• Joe Miller

State of Origin - Wattles

As it is State of Origin time, I thought it would be good to stoke botanical rivalries. For the non-Australian, State of Origin is a mid-season Rugby League All Star game between players who originated form Queensland against the New South Wales born. The rest of the players are out of luck. It is a three game series and is a serious rivalry.


I study Wattles (Acacia) and with collaborators developed Phylolink, a collection of tools through which biodiversity can be explored from a phylogenetic perspective. It is part of the Atlas of Living Australia and with it we can do many fun things, including stoke state rivalries.


Using these tools I counted the number of Wattle species in each state and used my phylogenetic tree (the evolutionary relationships of the all Wattle species). In later blogs I will demonstrate how I do this, it is easy.


What is your guess?



Which state, Queensland or New South Wales, Maroons or Blues, has more Wattle species, which contains more evolutionary history (or phylogenetic diversity (PD)), how many species and how much phylogenetic diversity is shared?


Here are the results (for those in the know, I am using only the species that are in the phylogeny).


Species comparison:




By raw species counts there are:

141 species shared between NSW & QLD

81 unique to QLD

73 unique to NSW









By percentage:

48% of the species are shared between NSW & QLD

27% unique to QLD

25% unique to NSW










By phylogenetic diversity there is:

52% species shared between NSW & QLD

26% unique to QLD

22% unique to NSW





Queensland wins! Maybe? By both species counts and PD there is more diversity in Queensland. The big result is that half the Wattle diversity is shared between Queensland and New South Wales.


I'll dissect the differences between the species and PD results in a later post. Think about it.


In the meantime, any other States of Origin to compare?

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© 2018 by Joe Miller.