I was born in the Gippsland country town of Bairnsdale in the state of Victoria, close to my mother’s hometown. Growing up, my siblings and I spent every school holiday on my grandparent’s farm, playing in the garden, helping with the animals, picnicking in the local countryside. I do remember that one of Christmas gift requests at the age of eight was for a microscope, which I received. A prediction of things to come?
While neither of my parents were particularly interested in nature, my favourite theme on Walt Disney’s weekly show, Disneyland, was Adventureland which was all about nature. I loved it. Then as I went from primary school to high school, my favourite subject was biology. I went onto a tertiary education, at Monash University with the plan to become a psychologist or a teacher. After one year of Psychology, I chose Botany in my second year, though I almost stuck with Psychology because in 3rd year Botany you were required to go camping in the bush – something I had never done and did not particularly want to start in 3rd Year university. No showers, no toilets? Come on! However, the thought of another 2 years of Psychology was enough to cement my decision to take Botany as a subject, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I completed an Honours year, with a project on the biology of two Hypnodendron moss species which grew in the Dandenong Ranges, where I compared their ecology in the forest as well as their morphologies back in the lab. My supervisor was Dr George A.M. Scott, who at the end of my undergraduate degree, offered me a technical position in his lab to back fill his technician who was going on sick leave for an extended period. George asked me to work on the liverwort genus Fossombronia – herbarium specimens only – of which I was not particularly enamoured. After working on a large, beautiful, dendroid moss species, a small simple thalloid liverwort that looked like an elongated lettuce was not all that inspiring. But spores were important in its taxonomy, so I began a lifelong love of the Scanning Electron Microscope as a magical instrument revealing the beautiful patterns produced by the many Fossombronia species. Over my career I have taken thousands of images of spores of both liverworts and hornworts. They never fail to excite me in their perfection. Also seeing these plants alive and in the field was completely different to working on dried herbarium specimens, and so I began my career as a hepaticologist. And I also grew to love camping and doing fieldwork – particularly with George Scott and natural history photographer Bruce Fuhrer. They were great in the field and I have never laughed so much as when I was out with them both.
In 1992 I was lucky to be given a 3 year grant to work on the hornworts of Australia (the study of which continues to this day) and in 1997, I travelled to the USA to complete my PhD with Drs Ray Stotler and Barbara Crandall-Stotler working on a revision of the Fossombroniinae for Africa, Southwest Asia and the sub-continent of India. It was here that I received a fabulous grounding in taxonomy and systematics, worked with wonderful fellow students and met many bryologist idols.
On the completion of my doctorate in 2001, I came back to Australia to take up the position of curator of the cryptogam collections at the Australian National Herbarium (CANB). Since then, I have continued to work on Fossombronia, Asterella and the hornworts, but more recently I obtained a grant to revise the genus Riccia for Australia, another liverwort with beautiful spores.
I have been very fortunate to work with many fabulous people throughout my career, too many to list here. And I cannot imagine studying anything other than liverworts and hornworts – such wonderful and mysterious plants.
Cargill, D. C. (2021) Fossombronia pseudointestinalis (Fossombroniaceae, Marchantiophyta), a new species from southern Australia. Arctoa. 30: 175-186
Cargill, D. C., Palsson, R. (2021) Hornworts of Australia: three new Anthoceros L. (Anthocerotaceae) species from New South Wales. Telopea. 24: 325-343.
Cargill, D. C., Beckmann, K., Seppelt, R. (2021) Taxonomic revision of Riccia L. (Ricciaceae, Marchantiophyta) in the monsoon tropics of the Northern Territory, Australia, Australian Systematic Botany. 34: 336-430.
Cargill, D.C., Beckmann, K. 2020. Typification and identity of Riccia macrospora Stephani (Ricciaceae) Swainsona. 33: 113-124.
Cargill, D.C., Callaghan, D.A., Forrest, L.L. and Reeb, C. (2020) Fossombronia isaloensis Cargill & D.A.Callaghan, a new liverwort from sandstone massifs in southern Madagascar. Journal of Bryology. 42: 213-222.
Cargill, D.C., Manju C. N., Deepa K. M., Chandini V. K. and Rajesh K. P. (2019) A new Indian species of Riccia L. with connections to northern Australia, Journal of Bryology. 41(3): 236-242. https://doi.org/10.1080/03736687.2019.1611249
Cargill, D.C., Milne, J., Forrest, L. L. and Gueidan, C. (2017) Disjunct populations of Monocarpus sphaerocarpus (Monocarpaceae, Marchantiopsida) within Australia show no sequence variation. Muelleria. 35: 35-42. (June 2017)
Cargill, D.C., Neal, W.C., Sharma, I., and Gueidan, C. (2016) A preliminary molecular phylogeny of the genus Riccia L. (Ricciaceae) in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 29: 197-217.
Cargill, D.C. (2016) Rare and peculiar hornworts: Notothylas orbicularis and N. javanica (Notothyladaceae), new genus and species records for Australia. Phytotaxa. 275(1): 1-13.
Cargill, D. C, N. G. F. Vella, I. Sharma and J. T. Miller (2013) Cryptic speciation and species diversity among Australian and New Zealand hornwort taxa of Megaceros Campb. (Dendrocerotaceae). Australian Systematic Botany. 26(5): 356-377
Cargill, D. C. and J. Milne (2013) A new terrestrial genus and species within the aquatic liverwort family Riellaceae (Sphaerocarpales) from Australia. Polish Botanical Journal 58(1): 71-80.
Cargill, D. C. and B. A. Fuhrer. (2008) Taxonomic studies of the Australian Anthocerotophyta II: The genus Phaeoceros. Fieldiana. Botany N.S., No. 47: 239-253.
Cargill, D. C., K. S. Renzaglia, J. C. Villarreal and R. J. Duff. (2005) Generic concepts within hornworts: historical review, contemporary insights and future directions. Australian Systematic Botany. 18: 1-10.
Cargill, D.C. & G.A.M. Scott. (1997) Taxonomic Studies of the Australian Anthocerotales I. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory. 82: 47-60.