People: meet our group

Jump to:  PhD candidates  |  honours students  |  past lab members |  prospective students |  volunteers

Grant Linley — PhD candidate

My PhD will determine how the recent 2019-2020 bushfires in north-eastern Victoria impacted ecosystems and measure how they respond and recover through time. This will deliverer vital information on the status of native wildlife in fire-affected areas which can feed into national and state prioritisations aimed at alleviating fire impacts and hastening recovery.

To undertake this, I will assess how native mammals and birds were affected by recent bushfires by examining the role of refuges in enhancing survival and promoting post-fire recovery, as well as exploring whether feral predators are drawn to burnt areas.

Luke Emerson  — PhD candidate

My PhD research examines the foraging ecology of pumas across their geographic range. Using GPS collar data, kill site images and genetic information, from multiple study sites across North and South America, we will advance understanding of the factors that influence puma prey selection, kill rates and habitat use. We will also shed light on sociality and resource sharing among pumas relative to their spatial ecology, and the importance of non-native prey species. This research will provide insight into the ecology and impact of an apex predator, and will have implications for conservation and management initiatives in other systems where large carnivores occur.

My supervisory dream team consists of A/Prof. Euan Ritchie and Dr Desley Whisson (Deakin University), A/Prof Heiko Wittmer (Victoria University of Wellington) and Dr Mark Elbroch (Panthera).

Anne Eichholtzer — PhD candidate

My PhD research is investigating the multiple values of citizen science. Our project, TechnEcology, is testing a novel and non-invasive way to monitor reptiles and amphibians. The method combines a new video camera technology with artificial intelligence.

The study is conducted with the help of members of the community – called citizen scientists – who are directly helping with data collection and analysis.

On top of the benefits of citizen science for ecological research, we are evaluating the potential outcomes for the participants themselves: do they value biodiversity more? Has their well-being been impacted? Evaluating participants’ outcomes – especially around economics and health – can create new narratives to engage society in conservation matters; and reach beyond audiences who already  have a special interest for biodiversity and nature in general.

Harry Moore — PhD candidate

Ecology of northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara, Western Australia.

Distance education student based at Charles Sturt University.


Shannon Braun — PhD candidate

Based at La Trobe University.

Billy Geary — PhD candidate

I am  investigating how knowledge of interactions between threats and ecological processes can be used to better manage ecosystems and conserve biodiversity.

To do this, I will use a combination of desktop analyses and field-based ecological studies from south-eastern Australia. I am co-supervised with Euan Ritchie, Dale Nimmo and Ayesha Tulloch.

Eilysh Thompson — PhD candidate

My PhD examines the role of dingoes as a trophic regulator within alpine and sub-alpine ecosystems, particularly in relation to large feral herbivores (deer/horses) and omnivores (pigs).

Specifically I aim to determine how dingoes affect feral herbivore distribution, abundance and behaviour and whether this in turn benefits threatened alpine and sub-alpine plant and animal species. I will assess this interaction using a variety of observational and experimental approaches including scat surveys, camera traps, acoustic recording devices and acoustic playback devices.

This knowledge will aid in guiding management decisions within Australian alpine parks particularly on the importance of conserving dingo populations.

Ange Pestell — PhD candidate

Using a mix of traditional survey and camera trap methods, my PhD will investigate faunal assemblages across a range of fire age-classes in two major vegetation types in the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera regions.

The data from my research will contribute to the development of machine learning processes that automate species identification from camera trap data for small vertebrates, and is part of a bigger project withpartners at La Trobe University, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, and the Departmenta of Environment, Land , Water and Planning (DELWP), which aims to increase the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of wildlife surveys in remote landscapes.

My research will also be used by DELWP to improve fire management outcomes for biodiversity in the Victorian Mallee and Wimmera regions.

Rachel Mason — PhD candidate

My PhD will focus on the management of dingoes in semi-arid north western Victoria, and aim to quantify how changes to dingo presence in baited areas can alter cat, fox, large herbivore, small mammal, and reptile presence, abundance and/or behaviour, and plant cover.

To achieve this, I will use a variety of experimental methods, including conducting widespread camera trapping surveys, scat surveys and vegetation complexity analyses in protected areas in Victoria’s mallee region, as well as collating relevant data from other related projects.

The data and outcomes from my project will contribute to our understanding of dingo management practises and their ecosystem-wide effects in both semi-arid environments as well as in broader Victoria, and allow decision makers to better integrate management actions (e.g. herbivore, fox and dingo control) for more cost- and ecologically-effective outcomes and resilient ecosystems.

Mark Simpson — PhD candidate

I am based at Queensland University of Technology (QUT).

I am investigating the role of law in managing and regulating human-wongari (dingo) conflict on K’Gari (Fraser Island).

Louise Buckley — PhD candidate

I am based in regional Victoria on Wadawurrung Country. I would like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of this land, the elder’s past, present and emerging.

I am a natural resource planning and conservation specialist. I work with the private and public sector developing management tools for the conservation of species and habitat. My PhD is a social science, applied ecology project. It will be centered on planning for the strategic management of culturally significant values in a changing climate. Using place-based community-centered case studies, the work will focus on caring for Country, land management and biodiversity conservation programs and projects in Victoria.

My supervisory team consists of Dr Tim Neale (Alfred Deakin Institute), Dr Euan Ritchie (Centre for Integrated Ecology) and Dr Will Smith (Alfred Deakin Institute).

Dylan Westaway — PhD candidate

I am based at Charles Sturt University and my PhD research broadly focuses on reptile conservation in the fire-prone Victorian mallee. We will investigate the influence of agriculture and habitat fragmentation on reptile species assemblages and will trial wild-to-wild translocations as a method of restoring locally extinct populations to reduce the extinction risk of dispersal-limited species.

Te Ao Marama Eketone — honours student

My project will be looking at the changes in the population ecology and behaviour of eastern barred bandicoots and long-nosed potoroos on French Island after a feral cat eradication program.

Georgia Kielbaska — honours student

My research will investigate factors affecting the potential translocation of Mitchell’s hopping mouse (Notomys mitchellii). This will include constructing a species distribution model for the Wimmera-Mallee region and potentially fine scale habitat assessments such as locating active burrows and determining an association with specific vegetation components.

Kristy Williams — honours student

I am extremely passionate about threatened species conservation.

My research will focus on habitat preferences of the long-nosed potoroo Potorous tridactylus on French Island, Victoria Australia.

Claire Tingate — honours student

My research project will be assessing the value of linear roadside vegetation for the threatened Greater Glider and other arboreal mammals in North Eastern Victoria (Strathbogie Ranges).

I will be conducting spotlight transect surveys and habitat assessments to determine the distribution and abundance of arboreal mammals in this area and examine what environmental factors influence this.

This project will provide new information about the abundance of arboreal mammals in the Strathbogie Ranges roadside vegetation, and give insight into features that make these vegetation patches highly valuable ecological refuges in a modified landscape.

Nathan Waddell — honours student

My Honours research will monitor the occupancy rates of arboreal species in chainsaw hollows in Gippsland, Victoria.

This project will help further understand species specific preferences related with this form of habitat supplementation, and how site- and landscape-scale factors, including fire, affect species occupancy and community composition.’

Past lab members

Robin Sinclair (donors 2020) Red fox diet in Gariwerd (Grampians) National Park.

Emily Reynolds (honours 2020) Backyard bandicoots: What factors determine habitat suitability?

Tahlia Townsend (honours 2020) Population ecology of the eastern barred bandicoot

Sarah Maclagan (PhD 2020) Ecology of the endangered Southern Brown Bandicoot in peri-urban Melbourne.

Lily Van Eeden (PhD 2020) Wildlife management of dingoes, Canis dingo.

Rachel Lee (honours 2020) Invertebrate translocations globally.  

Mary Thorpe (honours 2020) Predator and herbivore occupancy and habitat use in response to fox baiting in the Little Desert, Victoria.

Meg Farmer (honours 2019) distribution, abundance and behaviour of long-nosed potoroos (Potorous tridactylus) on French Island.

Ella Loeffler (honours 2019) The foraging ecology of eastern barred bandicoots in
newly established island populations.

Vivianna Miritis (honours 2019) Understanding island cat ecology for pest management and threatened species recovery.

Tom Newsome (postdoc 2017) Predator management in Australia: Lessons from interactions between wolves and cougars in north-east Washington USA.

Rebecca Cherubin (honours 2018) Evaluating the ecological impacts of feral horses in the Alps.

Matt Sleeth (honours 2017) Home range ecology and microhabitat use of the invasive wolf snake (Lycodon capucinus) of Christmas Island.

Lauren Halstead (honours 2017) The ecological role of eastern barred bandicoots in a newly established island population.

Bronwyn Hradsky (PhD 2016) Interactions between invasive predators, native mammals and fire in a forest ecosystem.

Blake Allan (PhD 2016) Specialist versus generalist species: a comparative ecological study of common and mountain brushtail possums.

Michael Wysong (PhD 2016) Predator ecologt in the arid rangelands of Western Australia: spatial interactions and resource competition etween an apex predator, the dingo Canis dingo, and an introduced mesopredator, the feral cat Felis catus.

Leanne Greenwood (honours 2016) Monitoring effort to effectively assess occupancy changes in terrestrial mammal species in Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Evie Jones (honours 2016) Factors influencing feral cat density and distribution in a mallee ecosystem.

Gavin Trewella (honours 2016) Do dingoes (Canis dingo) facilitate behaviourally-mediated trophic cascades in mallee ecosystems?

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.