People: meet our group

Jump to:  Postdocs  |  PhD candidates  |  honours students  |  former students |  prospective students |  volunteers

Tom Newsome — Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellow

Predator management in Australia: Lessons from interactions between wolves and cougars in north-east Washington USA.

Michael Wysong — PhD candidate

MichaelWysong400x600My research interest is in top-down ecology and the role predators play in maintaining and protecting biodiversity. I am also interested in the application of top-order predator conservation in the broader social and political landscape within which society operates.

I am based at the University of Western Australia with the Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology Research Group. My research will develop and test methods to reliably census feral cat and dingo populations and evaluate the influence of dingo control on feral cat abundance and activity. I will also explore a decision framework for the management of dingoes in the Gascoyne-Murchison region based on the dual goals of pastoralism and biodiversity conservation.

I am based at the University of Western Australia and jointly supervised by Dr Euan Ritchie, Prof Richard Hobbs, Assoc Prof Yvonne Buckley, Dr Neil Burrows, and Dr Leonie Valentine.

Blake Allan — PhD candidate

BlakeAllan400x600The ability of species to withstand significant environmental change, and the resulting extinctions, will depend largely on their ecological and behavioural flexibility, and hence, their capacity to adapt to change.

Specialists, by their very natures, are thought to be less capable of adapting to changing environments than generalists, however, few studies have ever clearly examined the links between ecological, energetic (physiological) and behavioural limitations of species, and how these combine to affect species’ growth, reproduction and survival rates.

My research constitutes utilising technology to investigate the links between species’ habitat preferences, population biology, spatial movement patterns, and their behavioural energetics.

Sarah Maclagan — PhD candidate

SarahMacLagan400x600My PhD investigates the ecology of the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot in peri-urban Melbourne, specifically where these animals occur within linear habitat corridors along roads, drains and railway lines.

By gathering data on how bandicoots are currently surviving within these highly modified habitats (population demographics, home range and movements, health factors, diet and interactions with pest animals), as well as how they respond to direct disturbance of habitat in linear corridors, I hope to shed light on how we can retain this and other native species within the landscape as urban expansion continues.

Bronwyn Hradsky — PhD candidate

BronwynHradsky400x600My PhD looks at how introduced predators respond to fire. In particular, I’m investigating the ways fire affects habitat use by red foxes and feral cats, and the potential implications for native mammal populations.

My project involves both a landscape-scale study of predators, native mammals and vegetation across the Otway Ranges (south-western Victoria), and fine-scale monitoring of fox and cat habitat use and predation around planned burns (using GPS collars and scat analysis).

I’m also using individual-based modelling to simulate post-fire changes in habitat and to investigate the mechanisms that shape native mammal population responses to fire.

I am based at the University of Melbourne with Dr Julian Di Stefano and Associate Professor Alan York, and is co-supervised by Dr Euan Ritchie.

Connie Warren — PhD candidate

ConnieWarren100x150My 2013 honours project  looked at what drives the distribution of herbivores in the mallee of south-eastern Australia, with a particular focus on fire.

This project built upon data gathered during the Mallee Fire and Biodiversity Project, a collaboration between Deakin and La Trobe Universities. I collected data through camera trapping, scat surveys and vegetation surveys.

Shannon Braun — PhD candidate

Based at La Trobe University.

Lily Van Eeden — PhD candidate

LilyVanEeden400x600pxAustralia invests never-ending resources into lethal control of dingoes, with little understanding of the benefits for livestock production or impacts on biodiversity.

Changing this system is difficult, so alongside ecological and agricultural research, investigation into the social and political contexts preventing progress in dingo management is essential.

Australia is lagging behind other countries in human-carnivore conflict resolution, so I draw dingo management into an international context for comparison, while identifying public and producer perspectives on dingoes and their management through social surveys.

My research seeks to understand how coexistence can be possible, changing the way we conduct wildlife management to the benefit of biodiversity and rural communities.

I am based at the University of Sydney.

Jared Wilson-Aggarwal — PhD candidate


Emerging infectious diseases often originate from animals and pose a significant threat to welfare, economics and conservation efforts.

There is an increasing awareness that the dynamics of animal social groups, particularly variation in contact rates, is an important consideration if we are to successfully predict and prevent disease epidemics . To date, there has been no social network constructed for free-roaming domestic dogs.

My research will use radio tracking technology and social network theory to characterize the movements and contact rates of free-roaming domestic dogs. These networks will identify individuals that disproportionately contribute to the transmission of disease, help to better predict the spread of disease and inform management decisions.

My project is based at the University of Exeter (UK) and I am jointly supervised by Prof Robbie McDonald and  Prof Darren Croft (University of Exeter), Dr Sarah Perkins (University of Cardiff) and Dr Euan Ritchie (Deakin University).

Leanne Greenwood  — honours student

Monitoring effort to effectively assess occupancy changes in terrestrial mammal species in Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Evie Jones — honours student

Factors influencing feral cat density and distribution in a mallee ecosystem. 

Gavin Trewella — honours student

Do dingoes (Canis dingo) facilitate behaviourally-mediated trophic cascades in mallee ecosystems?

Former students

Tim Doherty (Postdoc 2016) Fire, predator and prey relationships in semi-arid Victoria.

Evelyn Chia (PhD 2016) Wildfire, landscape heterogeneity and fauna in fire-prone forests.

Michelle Bassett (PhD 2016) Wildfire, mammals and their habitats in a fire-prone forest ecosystem.

Hayley Geyle (honours 2015) Survey design for detecting declines in the threatened brush-tailed rabbit-rat Conilurus penicillatus on the Tiwi Islands of the Northern Territory.

Harry Moore (honours 2015) Spatial and temporal interactions between predators and small mammals in semi-arid Australia.

Dr Leila Brook (PhD 2015) Predator guild interactions in northern Australia: behaviour and ecology of an apex predator, the dingo Canis lupus dingo, and an introduced mesopredator, the feral cat Felis catus.

Cassandra Holt (honours 2015) The distribution of mammals in relation to habitat at Wilsons Promontory.

Thomas Healey (honours 2014) Fire and the distribution of a herbivore in semi-arid Australia.

Jess Lawton (honours 2014) What drives the distribution of a small mammal (Notomys mitchellii) in a fire prone landscape?

Ray Alexander (honours 2014) Habitat selection of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the Otway Ranges.

Billy Geary (honours 2014) Predators and prey in flames: Mammalian trophic relationships in fire-prone, semi-arid Victoria.

Hayley Davis (honours 2014) Does fire influence termites? Examining the pyrodiversity begets biodiversity hypothesis.

Amber Fordyce (honours 2013) The impact of planned fire on microhabitat use in the bush rat.

Rebecca Nightingale (honours 2013) Understanding social behaviour of Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) in captivity: implications for conservation and management.

Shannon Braun (honours 2013) The influence of fire and microhabitat on predation pressure in semi-arid Australia: an experimental case-study using lizards.

Catherine Payne (honours 2012) Understanding the drivers of red fox (Vulpes vulpes) distribution and activity in semi-arid Australia.

Lucy Gow (honours 2012) Habitat associations and daily activity patterns of Wilsons Promontory’s mammals.

Kathlean Kean (honours 2011) Human dimensions of dingo and wild dog management in Victoria.

Tanya Rosewarne (honours 2011) Understating animal behaviours in captive insurance populations: the Tasmanian devil as a case study.

Prospective students

Looking to join our group?

I am always interested in speaking to high-achieving, energetic and self-motivated students about potential honours or PhD projects.

Our group’s work is always focused on applied ecology that seeks solutions to issues of genuine conservation concern. Our work tends to occur at the landscape-scale and be focused largely on mammals, but we are always open to developing projects that address a broad range of topics.

Students who have extensive field experience surveying wildlife, and have strong communication and quantitative skills will be particularly favoured. I also place a strong emphasis on students feeling well-supported by our group and therefore expect regular interaction and attendance at lab meetings and social events.

If you are interested in joining our group, please email me specifically addressing the following:

  • Why do you want to undertake further study?
  • What are your short- and long-term goals?
  • What expertise and experience will you bring to our group?
  • What area of research interests you most and why?
  • What are your relevant qualifications (undergraduate units taken and marks, field- and lab-based experience, other relevant qualifications, skills and experience)?

Please also include details of three referees.
For more information and submission deadlines for applications, refer to the following:


From time-to-time we need help out in the field. Volunteer field work is valuable, rewarding, and can be great fun.

Opportunities will be posted on the Deakin University Ecology Volunteer Register on Facebook.