My research as part of the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group at the University of Melbourne used existing bird occurrence datasets to model the suitability of floodplain habitats under different rainfall scenarios. This research aims to identify floodplains that serve as refuges for threatened and non-threatened birds during drought as well as those that are optimal habitat when there isn’t a drought. This will inform the prioritisation of management actions so that conservation outcomes can be achieved with the highest efficiency.
Previously, I was a post-doc in the Clarke Ornithology Lab at Monash University. My role used high precision GPS tracking data and stable isotope analysis to disentangle the movements and foraging ecology of seabirds in the eastern Indian Ocean. These projects extended the work I completed during my PhD, and saw me develop habitat suitability models for boobies (Sula spp.) and frigatebirds (Fregata spp.). If you are interested in the inner-workings of my research, you can take look via the Open Science Framework. Keep an eye out as some of the outputs of this work reach publication.
I completed my PhD at Monash University under the supervision of Rohan Clarke and Anne Peters (thesis here). I thoroughly enjoyed the project, which investigated the movement and foraging ecology of Great Frigatebirds (Fregata minor) and Lesser Frigatebirds (F. ariel) breeding on islands off the northwest coast of Australia. I identified mechanisms that limit competition for prey resources between the two species breeding at the same location as well as between two populations of Lesser Frigatebirds breeding at nearby islands. I also tracked these species into the non-breeding period and these data highlighted the importance of habitat in close proximity to small islands of Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, for non-breeding frigatebirds.
PhD side projects
While completing my PhD, I was also involved with research at the forefront of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in environmental research. We were able to demonstrate that UAVs are able to collect data of a higher quality than traditional data collection, paving the way for further uptake of UAVs in research projects around the globe.
This collaboration continued and we took the testing of UAV data collection to the next level with rigorous experimental work. You can see this research on Twitter with the hashtag #EpicDuckChallenge and find the paper in Methods in Ecology and Evolution (here).
During my PhD, I also spent time volunteering with the Australian Wader Studies Group conducting cannon-netting work near Broome as well as participating in the Monitoring Yellow Sea Migrants in Australia (MYSMA) counts. Each year, in the space of just four days, these counts can see upwards of a quarter of a million waders counted by the small, highly skilled team.
Prior to commencing my PhD, I worked at Deakin University, and La Trobe University on projects across much of northern Victoria. These investigated the role of fire in structuring bird communities and habitats, as well as establishing a monitoring program to document the responses of woodland bird assemblages to landscape-scale revegetation works. These projects involved active collaboration with stakeholders including catchment management authorities, and the Department of Sustainability and Environment (now DELWP) in addition to many private landholders and local Landcare groups.
In the media
Scientific American do '60 Second Science' on our work Listen here
CNN put the spotlight on #EpicDuckChallenge Read here
Audubon ran a piece on my research Read here
Mongabay write an article on our drone research Read here
New Scientist covers our work Read here
Playgroup Victoria wants me to inspire the next generation Read here
The time NASA emailed to say they liked my work Read here
My paper was selected as an Editor's Pick at The Auk Read here
The ABC featured our work in the national media Read here
Seabird research I was involved with is featured by ScienceDaily Read here
Our research hits the front page of the Nature website!!! Read here