Dr Stephen Keable


Collection Manager, Marine Invertebrates

Australian Museum

Dr Stephen Keable started his career at the Australian Museum in 1983, after working as a Technical Officer on various projects dealing with marine invertebrate research and collection management he was appointed to the permanent staff in 1998. During this time he also completed his MSc and PhD and was able to undertake fieldwork throughout much of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Thailand. Stephen’s MSc examined the role of invertebrate scavengers in the marine food web of the Great Barrier Reef. Scavengers feed on the remains of other animals, helping to recycle nutrients and are commercially important because they can damage catches or baits of some fisheries. His PhD study revised identifications and relationships of marine slaters (isopods) which are important scavengers and included descriptions of 15 new species. In 2006 he became the Collection Manager responsible for development and maintenance of the Marine Invertebrate Collection, and the contact point for gaining access to material and data from this collection.

What do you hope to achieve on this expedition to the Kermadecs?

Provide a benchmark of marine invertebrate diversity that can be used to relate the Kermadecs to other regions.

What skills are you bringing to this expedition?

My experience in collection, preservation and documentation of marine invertebrates.

When you’re not on an expedition what does a “day at work” look like for you?

I spend a lot of time at the computer corresponding by email, particularly with people who have studied or want to study specimens in the Australian Museum collection. I provide them with information about the specimens and also receive information which I need to make sure is transferred both to the database, used to manage the collection, and to the labels that are with the specimens. I have a number of staff and volunteers who assist me so I have to co-ordinate their work. I also have responsibility for maintaining and buying equipment, for loaning specimens from the collection, for making sure the specimens are maintained in good condition, returning specimens borrowed from elsewhere by scientists at our museum and helping visiting scientists. There is a lot of paperwork involved! Part of my job is also to improve and develop the collection and occasionally I get to do fieldwork which I enjoy.