Doctor Simon Tierney

Doctor Simon Tierney

Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Pollination Biology,
Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment


Simon is an Evolutionary Ecologist interested in animal behaviour and ecological interactions. Using field and genetic tool-kits he aims to understand the interplay between whole organisms, their environment and their genes, with a particular focus on social insect organisation, photic niche shifts and pollination. He has undertaken extensive fieldwork throughout Australia, the Americas, Africa and Asia - experiences that afford key insights into the evolution and function of the natural world.

His PhD investigated allodapine bees that can switch between solitary and social lifestyles (Flinders University, Adelaide), and he then undertook a series of postdocs exploring neotropical halictine bees that are similarly social, but unusual in their habit of nocturnal foraging (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama). This latter program developed a parallel interest in vision and led to projects exploring the molecular evolution of vision genes in nocturnal bees, blind water beetles (regressive evolution) and the development high-throughput sequencing technology and bioinformatics (University of Adelaide); skills that were subsequently applied to bee projects on differential gene expression between queen vs worker castes and social parasites vs their hosts.

Simon joined the HIE in 2017 and is currently involved in a multi-disciplinary project aimed at understanding and safeguarding the pollination services provided by Australian bees.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Tierney.


  • PhD Flinders University of South Australia
  • BA (Hons) Class II Flinders University of South Australia
  • BA Flinders University of South Australia

Professional Memberships

  • Australian Entomological Society - South Australian Regional Representative (2015-17) (2014)
  • International Union for the Study of Social Insects - Secretary Australasian Section (2014-) (2013)
  • Royal Entomological Society (2008)
  • Society of Australian Systematic Biologists - Treasurer (2013-) (2012)
  • The Linnean Society of London - Fellow (2014)


  • Behavioural Sciences
  • Ecology and Zoology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment


Phone: (02) 4570 1018
Location: R2.G.35

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Chapters in Books

  • Schwarz, M. and Tierney, S. (2020), 'Allodapine bees', Encyclopedia of Social Insects, Springer 9783319903064.
  • Wcislo, W. and Tierney, S. (2009), 'The evolution of communal behavior in bees and wasps : an alternative to eusociality', Organization of Insect Societies: From Genome to Sociocomplexity, Harvard University Press 9780674031258.
  • Schwarz, M., Tierney, S. and Chapman, T. (2006), 'Phylogenetic analyses of life history traits in allodapine bees and social evolution', Life Cycles in Social Insects: Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution, St. Petersburg University Press 9785288040085.

Journal Articles

  • Chapman, N., Colin, T., Cook, J., Da Silva, C., Gloag, R., Hogendoorn, K., Howard, S., Remnant, E., Roberts, J., Tierney, S., Wilson, R. and Mikheyev, A. (2023), 'The final frontier : ecological and evolutionary dynamics of a global parasite invasion', Biology Letters, vol 19, no 5 .
  • Tierney, S., Bernauer, O., King, L., Spooner-Hart, R. and Cook, J. (2023), 'Bee pollination services and the burden of biogeography', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 290, no 2000 .
  • Bousjein, N., Tierney, S., Gardner, M. and Schwarz, M. (2022), 'Does effective population size affect rates of molecular evolution : mitochondrial data for host/parasite species pairs in bees suggests not', Ecology and Evolution, vol 12, no 2 .
  • Bernauer, O., Cook, J. and Tierney, S. (2022), 'Division of foraging behaviour : assessments of pollinator traits when visiting a model plant species', Animal Behaviour, vol 188 , pp 169 - 179.
  • Langille, B., Tierney, S., Bertozzi, T., Beasley-Hall, P., Bradford, T., Fagan-Jeffries, E., Hyde, J., Leijs, R., Richardson, M., Saint, K., Stringer, D., Villastrigo, A., Humphreys, W., Austin, A. and Cooper, S. (2022), 'Parallel decay of vision genes in subterranean water beetles', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol 173 .
  • Beasley-Hall, P., Bertozzi, T., Bradford, T., Foster, C., Jones, K., Tierney, S., Humphreys, W., Austin, A. and Cooper, S. (2022), 'Differential transcriptomic responses to heat stress in surface and subterranean diving beetles', Scientific Reports, vol 12, no 1 .
  • Bernauer, O., Tierney, S. and Cook, J. (2022), 'Efficiency and effectiveness of native bees and honey bees as pollinators of apples in New South Wales orchards', Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment, vol 337 .
  • Langille, B., Hyde, J., Saint, K., Bradford, T., Stringer, D., Tierney, S., Humphreys, W., Austin, A. and Cooper, S. (2021), 'Evidence for speciation underground in diving beetles (Dytiscidae) from a subterranean archipelago', Evolution, vol 75, no 1 , pp 166 - 175.
  • Stringer, D., Bertozzi, T., Meusemann, K., Delean, S., Guzik, M., Tierney, S., Mayer, C., Cooper, S., Javidkar, M., Zwick, A. and Austin, A. (2021), 'Development and evaluation of a custom bait design based on 469 single-copy protein-coding genes for exon capture of isopods (Philosciidae: Haloniscus)', PLoS One, vol 16, no 9 .
  • Freelance, C., Tierney, S., Rodriguez, J., Stuart-Fox, D., Wong, B. and Elgar, M. (2021), 'The eyes have it : dim-light activity is associated with the morphology of eyes but not antennae across insect orders', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 134, no 2 , pp 303 - 315.
  • Bernauer, O., Cook, J. and Tierney, S. (2021), 'Nesting biology and social organisation of the allodapine bee Exoneura angophorae (Hymenoptera: Apidae) : montane environmental constraints yield biased sex allocation yet phenology is unhindered', Insectes Sociaux, vol 68, no 4 , pp 337 - 349.
  • Langille, B., Tierney, S., Austin, A., Humphreys, W. and Cooper, S. (2019), 'How blind are they? : phototactic responses in stygobiont diving beetles (Coleoptera: Dytiscidae) from calcrete aquifers of Western Australia', Austral Entomology, vol 58, no 2 , pp 425 - 431.
  • Freelance, C., Majoe, M., Tierney, S. and Elgar, M. (2019), 'Antennal asymmetry is not associated with social behaviour in Australian Hymenoptera', Austral Entomology, vol 58, no 3 , pp 589 - 594.
  • Dew, R., Tierney, S. and Schwarz, M. (2018), 'Lack of ovarian skew in an allodapine bee and the evolution of casteless social behaviour', Ethology Ecology and Evolution, vol 30, no 1 , pp 51 - 69.
  • Dew, R., Tierney, S., Gardner, M. and Schwarz, M. (2018), 'Casteless behaviour in social groups of the bee Exoneurella eremophila', Apidologie, vol 49, no 2 , pp 265 - 275.
  • Beasley-Hall, P., Tierney, S., Weinstein, P. and Austin, A. (2018), 'A revised phylogeny of macropathine cave crickets (Orthoptera: Rhaphidophoridae) uncovers a paraphyletic Australian fauna', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol 126 , pp 153 - 161.
  • Klopfstein, S., Van Der Schyff, G., Tierney, S. and Austin, A. (2018), 'Wolbachia infections in Australian ichneumonid parasitoid wasps (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) : evidence for adherence to the global equilibrium hypothesis', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 123, no 3 , pp 518 - 534.
  • Tierney, S., Langille, B., Humphreys, W., Austin, A. and Cooper, S. (2018), 'Massive parallel regression : a precis of genetic mechanisms for vision loss in diving beetles', Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol 58, no 3 , pp 465 - 479.
  • Tierney, S., Friedrich, M., Humphreys, W., Jones, T., Warrant, E. and Wcislo, W. (2017), 'Consequences of evolutionary transitions in changing photic environments', Austral Entomology, vol 56, no 1 , pp 23 - 46.
  • Dew, R., Tierney, S. and Schwarz, M. (2016), 'Social evolution and casteless societies : needs for new terminology and a new evolutionary focus', Insectes Sociaux, vol 63, no 1 , pp 5 - 14.
  • Tierney, S., Cooper, S., Saint, K., Bertozzi, T., Hyde, J., Humphreys, W. and Austin, A. (2015), 'Opsin transcripts of predatory diving beetles : a comparison of surface and subterranean photic niches', Royal Society Open Science, vol 2, no 1 .
  • Rehan, S., Tierney, S. and Wcislo, W. (2015), 'Evidence for social nesting in neotropical ceratinine bees', Insectes Sociaux, vol 62, no 4 , pp 465 - 469.
  • Smith, J., Chenoweth, L., Tierney, S. and Schwarz, M. (2013), 'Repeated origins of social parasitism in allodapine bees indicate that the weak form of Emery's rule is widespread, yet sympatric speciation remains highly problematic', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 109, no 2 , pp 320 - 331.
  • Tierney, S., Fischer, C., Rehan, S., Kapheim, K. and Wcislo, W. (2013), 'Frequency of social nesting in the sweat bee Megalopta genalis (Halictidae) does not vary across a rainfall gradient, despite disparity in brood production and body size', Insectes Sociaux, vol 60, no 2 , pp 163 - 172.
  • Dew, R., Rehan, S., Tierney, S., Chenoweth, L. and Schwarz, M. (2012), 'A single origin of large colony size in allodapine bees suggests a threshold event among 50 million years of evolutionary tinkering', Insectes Sociaux, vol 59, no 2 , pp 207 - 214.
  • Tierney, S., Sanjur, O., Grajales, G., Santos, L., Bermingham, E. and Wcislo, W. (2012), 'Photic niche invasions : phylogenetic history of the dim-light foraging augochlorine bees (Halictidae)', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol 279, no 1729 , pp 794 - 803.
  • Schwarz, M., Tierney, S., Rehan, S., Chenoweth, L. and Cooper, S. (2011), 'The evolution of eusociality in allodapine bees : workers began by waiting', Biology Letters, vol 7, no 2 , pp 277 - 280.
  • Santos, L., Tierney, S. and Wcislo, W. (2010), 'Nest descriptions of Megalopta aegis (Vachal) and M. guimaraesi Santos & Silveira (Hymenoptera, Halictidae) from the Brazilian Cerrado', Revista Brasileira de Entomologia, vol 54, no 2 , pp 332 - 334.
  • Wcislo, W. and Tierney, S. (2009), 'Behavioural environments and niche construction : the evolution of dim-light foraging in bees', Biological Reviews, vol 84, no 1 , pp 19 - 37.
  • Tierney, S. and Schwarz, M. (2009), 'Reproductive hierarchies in the African allodapine bee Allodapula dichroa (Apidae: Xylocopinae) and ancestral forms of sociality', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 97, no 3 , pp 520 - 530.
  • Tierney, S., Gonzales-Ojeda, T. and Wcislo, W. (2008), 'Biology of a nocturnal bee, Megalopta atra (Hymenoptera: Halictidae; Augochlorini), from the Panamanian highlands', Journal of Natural History, vol 42, no 27-28 , pp 1841 - 1847.
  • Tierney, S., Gonzales-Ojeda, T. and Wcislo, W. (2008), 'Nesting biology and social behavior of two Xenochlora bees (Hymenoptera: Halictidae: Augochlorini) from Peru', Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society, vol 81, no 1 , pp 61 - 72.
  • Tierney, S., Smith, J., Chenoweth, L. and Schwarz, M. (2008), 'Phylogenetics of allodapine bees : a review of social evolution, parasitism and biogeography', Apidologie, vol 39, no 1 , pp 3 - 15.
  • Chenoweth, L., Fuller, S., Tierney, S., Park, Y. and Schwarz, M. (2008), 'Hasinamelissa : a new genus of allodapine bee from Madagascar revealed by larval morphology and DNA sequence data', Systematic Entomology, vol 33, no 4 , pp 700 - 710.
  • Smith, J., Tierney, S., Park, Y., Fuller, S. and Schwarz, M. (2007), 'Origins of social parasitism: the importance of divergence ages in phylogenetic studies', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol 43, no 3 , pp 1131 - 1137.
  • Chenoweth, L., Tierney, S., Smith, J., Cooper, S. and Schwarz, M. (2007), 'Social complexity in bees is not sufficient to explain lack of reversions to solitary living over long time scales', BMC Evolutionary Biology, vol 7, no suppl. 2 .
  • Schwarz, M., Fuller, S., Tierney, S. and Cooper, S. (2006), 'Molecular phylogenetics of the exoneurine allodapine bees reveal an ancient and puzzling dispersal from Africa to Australia', Systematic Biology, vol 55, no 1 , pp 31 - 45.
  • Aenmey, T., Tierney, S., Pillay, N. and Schwarz, M. (2006), 'Nesting biology of an African allodapine bee Braunsapis vitrea : female biased sex allocation in the absence of worker-like behavioural castes', Ethology Ecology & Evolution, vol 18, no 3 , pp 205 - 220.
  • Fuller, S., Schwarz, M. and Tierney, S. (2005), 'Phylogenetics of the allodapine bee genus Braunsapis : historical biogeography and long-range dispersal over water', Journal of Biogeography, vol 32, no 12 , pp 2135 - 2144.
  • Schwarz, M., Tierney, S., Zammit, J., Schwarz, P. and Fuller, S. (2005), 'Brood provisioning and colony composition of a Malagasy species of Halterapis : implications for social evolution in the allodapine bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Xylocopinae)', Annals of the Entomological Society of America, vol 98, no 1 , pp 126 - 133.
  • Schwarz, M., Tierney, S., Cooper, S. and Bull, N. (2004), 'Molecular phylogenetics of the allodapine bee genus Braunsapis : A-T bias and heterogeneous substitution parameters', Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, vol 32, no 1 , pp 110 - 122.
  • Tierney, S. and Schwarz, M. (2003), 'Taxonomic description of allodapine bees from the Zanzibar archipelago genus Macrogalea (Hymenoptera: Apidae)', African Entomology, vol 11, no 2 , pp 199 - 203.
  • Tierney, S., Schwarz, M., Neville, T. and Schwarz, P. (2002), 'Sociality in the phylogenetically basal allodapine bee genus Macrogalea (Apidae, Xylocopinae) : implications for social evolution in the tribe Allodapini', Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, vol 76, no 2 , pp 211 - 224.
  • Tierney, S., Cronin, A., Loussert, N. and Schwarz, M. (2000), 'The biology of Brevineura froggatti and phylogenetic conservatism in Australian allodapine bees (Apidae, Allodapini)', Insectes Sociaux, vol 47, no 1 , pp 96 - 97.
  • Neville, T., Schwarz, M. and Tierney, S. (1998), 'Biology of a weakly social bee, Exoneura (Exoneurella) setosa (Hymenoptera: Apidae) and implications for social evolution in Australian allodapine bees', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol 46, no 3 , pp 221 - 234.
  • Tierney, S., Schwarz, M. and Adams, M. (1997), 'Social behaviour in an Australian allodapine bee Exoneura (Brevineura) xanthoclypeata (Hymenoptera : Apidae)', Australian Journal of Zoology, vol 45, no 4 , pp 385 - 398.

Conference Papers

  • Schwarz, M., Bull, N., Tierney, S., Cronin, A. and Reyes, S. (1997), 'Social evolution in Hymenoptera : insights from Australian allodapine bees', International Colloquia on Social Insects, St Petersberg, Russia.

Current Projects

Title: Evolutionary history and phylogenomics of South West Pacific nocturnal bees
  • The Australia and Pacific Science Foundation (ACRG)
Western Researchers: Simon Tierney
Years: 2023-06-26 - 2026-06-26
ID: P00028549
Title: Development of Blue-banded bees as managed buzz pollinators
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (ACRG)
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (ACRG)
  • University of Western Sydney
  • University of Western Sydney
  • The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (ACRG)
Western Researchers: James Cook, Ben Moore, Markus Riegler, Michelle Mak, Simon Tierney and Robert Spooner-Hart
Years: 2021-06-28 - 2026-12-15
ID: P00027356

Previous Projects

Title: Understanding native orchard pollinators: foraging behaviour, pollination efficiency, phylogenetic diversity, and the natural history of an allodapine bee - Olivia Bernauer
  • University of Western Sydney Hawkesbury Foundation Limited
Western Researchers: James Cook and Simon Tierney
Years: 2019-07-01 - 2021-10-31
ID: P00025948
Title: Loss of horticultural pollination services from wild insects following bushfires
  • Horticulture Innovation Australia (ACRG)
Western Researchers: James Cook, Sally Power, Simon Tierney and Amy-Marie Gilpin
Years: 2021-06-15 - 2023-11-04
ID: P00027349

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