I am Professor of Environmental Management at The University of Queensland, as well as Deputy Director of the Threatened Species Recovery Hub. My fellowship research focusses on conservation policy, such as exploring the long-term biodiversity consequences (both intended and unintended) of biodiversity offset approaches in order to test how they influence the long-term persistence of biodiversity, as well as examining the risks and consequences of the introduction of offsetting into the conservation policy mix at national and international levels. I also work on interspecific competition and woodland bird ecology, with a focus on how the aggressive noisy miner can be managed to restore woodland bird assemblages. With lab members and other collaborators, I work on drivers of landscape-level species richness, resource distribution and persistence of bird species in patchy landscapes, and how climate change will influence the persistence of species through its influence on resources.
Jeremy Simmonds (Postdoctoral Fellow):
My major research focus is on policy that regulates environmental impact assessments. A key theme of this research is biodiversity offsetting – particularly, ways in which this tool can be harnessed to deliver better outcomes for people and biodiversity. I am also interested in landscape-level conservation actions in human-modified systems. Topics that I have examined include the use of thresholds of habitat loss to guide decision making, the implications of habitat loss for multi-species assemblages including the oft-neglected majority (‘common’ species), and regulatory mechanisms by which to conserve threatened fauna communities.
Helen Mayfield (Postdoctoral Fellow): A framework for eliciting conceptual models and estimating a species response to management
Helen’s research interests span environmental conservation and human health, and the overlap between the two. Her goal is to facilitate evidence based decisions in these fields by making data modelling and decisions science more accessible to decision makers. Her current work focuses on eco-epidemiology of infectious diseases, and the use of expert elicitation for guiding threatened species management in data poor situations. She draws on a range of data modelling and machine learning techniques, with a focus on spatial modelling.
Michelle Gibson (Postdoctoral Researcher):
Michelle is interested in species persistence in human-altered landscapes and effectively monitoring disturbed ecological communities to better inform conservation management. She has a background in invasion biology, plant-animal interactions, and arid ecology, and over the past 10 years has monitored terrestrial plant and animal communities in arid, Mediterranean and tropical regions across four different countries. Michelle has collaborated with various stakeholders with diverse conservation approaches to execute conservation-related projects and facilitate large-scale ecological monitoring projects. Her current research focuses on Australia’s temperate woodland birds and will bring together information from existing government and NGO monitoring programs to explore the effectiveness of management actions that benefit the entire ecological community.
Pablo Jose Negret Torres (Postdoctoral Fellow): Natural and anthropogenic factors associated with changes in diversity patterns across landscapes.
I’m particularly interested in how different factors affect bird species diversity patterns in neotropical regions. I’m also interested in looking for conservation approaches in areas of high armed conflict risk, with the aim to achieve national and international conservation targets.
Tida Nou (Research Assistant):
Prior to moving to Brisbane in 2018, Tida lived in the Northern Territory. She worked for a range of government and non-government organisations and was privileged to spend time working closely with Indigenous ranger groups across northern Australia. Her work included fauna surveys in remote areas, part of the extensive research documenting the steep and significant decline in small and medium sized native mammals across northern Australia. During this time, she developed an interest in improving the integration of scientific research into environmental planning and management. Tida is working on a project with the Maron Ecology and Conservation Policy Lab on developing better offsets for threatened species. She is also working on a project synthesising the current research on cat impacts and management and developing appropriate ways to better communicate this information according to different needs and audiences.
David Poulton (PhD candidate):
I have a long-standing interest in the formulation and implementation of environmental policy, with a special interest in biodiversity offsetting. Taking a highly inter-disciplinary approach, my PhD research focuses on the attitudes and practices of natural resource regulators respecting the mitigation hierarchy (i.e., first avoid adverse environmental impacts, then minimize and restore, and only use offsetting as a last resort) and how theory, policy and practice might be brought into better alignment.
Georgina Hockings (PhD candidate): The ecology of black-backed jackals in the south Namib Desert, Namibia
Black-backed jackals are considered a ‘problem animal’ throughout Africa due to their role in livestock depredation. My project is investigating their ecology and conflict situation in southern Namibia with three main aims; to investigate their density using spatially explicit capture-recapture methods, investigate their diet on a privately protected area study site and engage local farmers and landholders to assess the conflict situation and their attitudes and values towards black-backed jackals.
Divya Narain (PhD candidate): Biodiversity safeguards for global infrastructure finance
I am looking at the entire landscape of financial institutions investing in infrastructure globally, with a view to assess the gaps in coverage of biodiversity safeguards. I hope to answer why institutional investors do not have safeguards despite the material investment risks that biodiversity impacts can pose. I also hope to assess how much leverage FIs such as Multi-lateral Development Banks that do have biodiversity safeguards wield on project impact mitigation decisions as a function of their relative contribution to an infrastructure project. In addition, I am trying to assess the effectiveness of existing biodiversity safeguards in terms of both their scientific robustness and the rigour with which they are applied. Finally, I hope to take the case of an actual infrastructure project to understand how it would fare in terms of biodiversity impact mitigation under various investment scenarios.
Courtney Melton (PhD candidate): Decline and Options for the Recovery of a Threatened Avifaunal Community
Temperate woodland vegetation communities are one of the most degraded ecological systems worldwide. In Australia, temperate woodlands have been significantly cleared with less than 20% of their former range remaining. This has caused broad scale degradation of the classic Australian woodland bird community, which has recently been nominated for listing as endangered with over 40 bird species endemic to Australia threatened with extinction. My project seeks to evaluate current management approaches to protect and restore woodland bird communities to further account for key threatening processes, and ultimately develop an ecosystem-level, integrative management plan.
Ma Deqiang (PhD Candidate): Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Offsets in Coastal Areas
Deqiang’s project focusses on the following issues: 1) How can we design ecosystem services offsets? 2) How does accounting for the supply of ecosystem services change the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions? And 3) How does accounting for social equity in access to ecosystem services change the spatial location of biodiversity offsetting solutions?
Miranda Rew-Duffy (PhD Candidate): The effects of fire, landform and land use on small vertebrates in Central Queensland.
The Brigalow Belt in Central Queensland, once comprised of large, continuous fertile woodlands, has been subject to extensive land clearing since the 1960s. Carnarvon Station Reserve, owned by Bush Heritage Australia, is a 59 000 ha property that acts as a refuge area for many wildlife species and ecosystems that were once widespread across Central Queensland. However, very little is known about the abundance and diversity of terrestrial vertebrate species in the reserve, and the greater Carnarvon region of Central Queensland. My project aims to determine how small mammals and reptiles in the Carnarvon region are affected by vegetation type, grazing pressure, and fire regimes, in order to better protect them into the future.
COLLABORATORS AND ALUMNI
Kaline de Mello:
In collaboration with Professor Martine Maron, I am currently working on an offsetting project regarding the Brazilian Forest Act. The objective of the research is to find the best solutions for native vegetation compensation required by the Law based on ecological and socio-economic aspects.
Felipe Suarez Castro:
I am developing a predictive model to quantify the effects of landscape structure on the relationship between species diversity and functional diversity. This model will improve our ability to make wise management decisions to achieve biodiversity conservation objectives when ecosystem functions are explicitly incorporated. (Primary Supervisor: Jonathan Rhodes)
Daniella Teixeira: Bioacoustics for conservation: new technology for black-cockatoo monitoring.
My research investigates how bioacoustic technology can improve the monitoring of red-tailed black-cockatoos and glossy black-cockatoos. Existing monitoring efforts by human observers are limited by the birds’ nomadic and often cryptic behaviours. Bioacoustic technology may offer a cost-effective alternative for monitoring these species over vast areas and for long time periods. I’m primarily interested in improving estimates of breeding success, and how this relates to patterns of habitat use and human disturbances. Co-supervised by Dr. Berndt van Rensburg (UQ), Prof. Paul Roe (QUT) and Richard Hill (Victorian Government).
Nicole Shumway: Biodiversity offsets in the marine environment
Biodiversity offsets are increasingly being used as a mechanism to mitigate impacts from economic expansion and development on species and ecosystems. Marine offset development has lagged behind terrestrial offsets, despite a global increase in marine development and exploitation. The aim of my thesis is to advance both the theoretical and practical basis for marine biodiversity offsets, and to investigate how offsets can be used to minimize impacts on the marine environment and more effectively achieve no net loss of biodiversity.
Alex Braczkowski: Costs and efficacy of conservation interventions for large carnivores in Africa
My project examines two central questions in the current carnivore conservation debate, 1) how and from where do we source the additional funds required for on the ground carnivore conservation in Africa and 2) how do we better monitor low density populations of large carnivores to judge the efficacy of conservation actions. My work is supported by the SATIB Conservation Trust, and key collaborators include Arjun Gopalaswamy, Sam Ferreira, Duan Biggs and Brian Courtenay.
April Reside (Postdoctoral Fellow):
April Reside’s research focusses on vertebrate ecology to inform conservation. Her current postdoc at the University of Queensland investigates the condition of subtropical woodland bird communities. Previously, April focussed on the role of refuges for conserving threatened species, the impact of climate change on biodiversity, and strategies for climate change adaptation. This work has been used to inform spatial conservation planning that accounts for climatic refugia. April’s other work focusses on threatened species recovery, which has led her to a greater focus on conservation policy to improve outcomes for imperilled species. April is a scientific advisor for the Black-throated Finch Recovery Team, Birdlife Australia’s Research and Conservation Committee and Threatened Species Committee. Read more on her website: https://aprilreside.wixsite.com/conservation
Jessica Walsh: Lecturer, Head of Conservation Outcomes and Decisions Group, School of Biological Sciences, Monash University
Jessica’s research focuses on evaluating the effectiveness of conservation management and policy for threatened species and ecosystems, developing prioritisation and decision-support tools, and understanding how to implement evidence-based conservation.
Read more on her website: https://jessicawalshconservation.com/
Micha V Jackson (Postdoctoral Researcher): Conserving migratory birds in human-dominated landscapes
This project looks at how migratory shorebirds, an increasingly threatened group (particularly in the East Asian-Australasian Flyway), are responding to changes in habitat availability resulting from human activity. I am particularly interested in stopover ecology and the human coastal land use patterns driving availability of artificial habitats that can provide resources for migrating birds, and whether these habitats may be better managed to foster species recovery (primary supervisor Assoc Prof Richard Fuller).
My research falls broadly within environmental policy, governance and economics, with a particular focus on biodiversity conservation and natural resource management. I am an interdisciplinary researcher, and draw on both quantitative and qualitative methods used in the natural and social sciences. The overarching goal of my research is to get better outcomes for the environment and society through an understanding of the policy process: design, implementation and evaluation. I am currently working as part of the National Environmental Science Programme – Threatened Species Recovery Hub (NESP TSR), where I am investigating cost effective and innovative biodiversity offsetting approaches for Australian threatened species.
Zoe Stone (Postdoctoral Fellow): Recovering the Northern bristlebird using genetic management, reintroductions and prescribed burning
The northern population of the eastern bristlebird is critically endangered with only 38 known birds left in the wild. I am working with the Northern Bristlebird Working Group to prepare and coordinate an emergency response that includes captive breeding, genetic management, reintroduction and habitat management. I am also interested in understanding how to best manage threatened species, and am working towards identifying effective offset management actions for a range of data limited species in Australia through expert elicitation. This research aims to guide the recovery of some of Australia’s most at risk species.
Laura Sonter (ARC DECRA Fellow):
My research seeks to understand where, when and how to manage and conserve landscapes, so as to beneift both nature and people. I use land use change models, coupled with remote sensing and GIS datasets, to predict how future development projects (e.g. mines, hydropower dams, transportation infrastructure) will impact biodiversity and ecosystem services. This information allows us to compare the costs and benefits of alternative management interventions and, ultimately, provides the knowledge needed to make more informed decisions. My research benefits from collaborating across disciplines (ecology, economics, engineering) and working alongside government and non-government organizations. I am currently conducting projects in Australia, Brazil and the USA.