with collar.jpg

I am an ecologist specialising in animal movement and spatial ecology. I am primarily a movement ecologist with a very broad range of interests covering many areas of conservation and ecology and I have worked on a range of taxa including plants, fish, invertebrates, mammals and birds in many countries around the world.

I am currently an impact analyst at Bush Heritage Australia and a research associate at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

LATEST RESEARCH

Swift Parrot Nestling 3.JPG

Swift parrots (Lathamus discolor) are critically endangered and one of the few migratory parrot species in the world. They breed in Tasmania and migrate across the sea to Australia every year. They feed on ephemeral blooms of eucalyptus trees which are highly variable in time and space. When possible, swift parrots try to nest close to food, but sometimes they take risks by breeding when conditions aren’t great.They have to weigh up the costs and benefits of raising chicks against their survival.  During bad times, mobile animals may be able to compensate for local food shortages by travelling further to provision their offspring.

We studied parental investment and breeding success in the swift parrots over two successive years at the same site where food abundance went from locally low to high.

In the bad year fewer parrots bred, they raised fewer and skinnier chicks and had to work a lot harder to feed them than in the good year. One of the parrot dads tracked here had to fly 9km, across the water to the Tasmanian mainland to find flowering trees in one trip. Stopping the deforestation of their breeding areas will help cushion the impact of locally bad years by giving the parrots other choices when it comes to nesting and raising chicks

Capybara - Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris.JPG

Capybara are the biggest rodent in the world and live in savannahs and forests, always close to water. They are very social and are commonly found in groups of 20 or more. In this study we looked at the home range size and daily movement patterns of capybaras in natural landscapes and compared them to those in landscapes impacted by agriculture, roads and human settlements. The results show that home ranges were a striking 2.43 times greater in natural landscapes than in human-modified landscapes and indicate differences in ranging patterns between the two types of landscape. Capybaras tended to be more nocturnal and move shorter distances when in human-modified landscapes.

The aggregation of capybaras in very small home ranges might imply greater risk of diseases spread by tick infestations such as Brazilian spotted fever. In addition, capybara–vehicle collision may be increased during capybaras’ nocturnal activity. Not only do capybaras restrict their movements, they also show preference for forested areas where humans are usually not present.