Students

Amelia Saul

Amelia

Position: PhD Candidate
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9351 3189
Location: Room 104, A10 Science Road Cottage, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: How density and time shape the net impacts of alien species – finding the good in the bad
Many alien species have caused major ecological and economic damage worldwide however, not all aliens have negative impacts. Density and time since introduction are two parameters likely to affect the magnitude of alien impacts and influence management actions. I propose that there should be a density-benefit relationship whereby aliens (or any species) can perform beneficial ecosystem services, which contribute to their net ecosystem impact. Similarly, over time, their net negative impact may lessen as positive interactions develop with local species. I will investigate these concepts and test their predictions using a series of manipulative field experiments. This project will serve to improve conservation actions, as it will provide a theoretical basis for efficient, cost-effective management of alien species.


Kyla Johnstone

Kyla

Position: PhD Candidate
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9351 3189
Location: Room 104, A10 Science Road Cottage, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Identifying the underlying behavioural mechanisms that determine how personality types interact with wildlife trapping devices
My project will address the potential bias in wildlife monitoring arising from differing animal personalities within a population. Theory predicts that the ‘shy’ proportion of populations may be under-represented, while the ‘bold’ proportion is overrepresented in management programs. If true, then significant proportions of the animal’s population may be overlooked, leading to bias results from survey projects. I will be focusing on the behavioural mechanisms that determine how different types of animal personalities across a number of species interact with various trapping devices in order to improve the efficacy of sampling devices and the reliability of sampling regimes.


Cassie Thompson

Cassie

Position: Masters Candidate
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9351 3189
Location: Room 104, A10 Science Road Cottage, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Reducing fragmentation and barrier effects for Eastern Pygmy Possums and other small mammals in the peri-urban environment
Urbanisation has been identified as a new selective force that is changing the composition of animal communities. Native generalists and introduced species tend to dominate in the urban matrix as they can move through and live within these areas. While urban-sensitive species, generally habitat and dietary specialists, are unable to persist or are restricted to isolated, remnant native vegetation that occurs. This results in fragmented populations that are at a higher risk of local extinction.
It is important to understand the factors affecting presence and persistence of species within a patch to manage biodiversity values. It is also important to improve connectivity of fragments to enhance the long-term viability of urban-sensitive species in fragmented landscapes.
My research aims to investigate predictions around the persistence and movement of urban-sensitive small mammals in peri-urban bushland fragments, focusing on the threatened Eastern Pygmy Possum. Occupancy modelling will determine factors contributing to presence or absence in fragments, while behavioural testing and mark-recapture methods will determine the willingness to move between habitat areas, identify barriers to movement and test the use of purpose-built structures. The project aims to identify best practice management to increase the permeability of the landscape for urban-sensitive small mammals in a fragmented peri-urban environment.


Rebecca O'rourke

Bec

Position: Honours Candidate
Email:
Location: Room 109, A10 Science Road Cottage, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Reintroducing native's into an alien’s domain: investigating the spatial ecology and interspecific Interactions of reintroduced native's
Re-introductions of native mammals is an ecological tool used in restoration practices. However, the success of such projects can be confounded by habitat suitability and interspecific competition from alien species. Can a native hold its own as a restoration tool in an alien’s domain? My study explores the mechanisms driving habitat selection of re-introduced Eastern Pygmy-Possums (Cercartetus nanus), Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) and Bush rats (Rattus fuscipes) in a landscape with spatial variability in resources and an entrenched alien competitor, the black rat, (Rattus rattus) which now fills similar ecological roles as lost natives. These results will help inform the likelihood of successfully returning native mammals to Sydney’s peri-urban areas, which is dependent on the degree of resource competition, and the ability to reinstate lost niches within the ecosystem.


Katie Wat

Katie

Position: PhD Candidate (Primary supervisor A/Prof. Clare McArthur)
Email:
Location: Room 409, A08 Heydon-Laurence Building, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Interactive effects of food quality, predation risks and personality on the foraging movements of mammalian herbivores
Every day herbivores navigate throughout the landscape of food and fear. They must forage in places that maximize nutrients intake while minimizing predation risks to maintain fitness. Personality may influence how animals perceive their environment, thus different spatial and temporal use of habitats. Little is known about the fine-scale movements of Australian marsupial herbivores, and how they relate to personality. Therefore, I aim to examine the effects of vegetation structure on patch selection of free-ranging herbivores, assess the ecological factors that influence foraging movements, and investigate the link between personality and movement patterns, using common brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) as a model.


Henry Lydecker

Henry

Position: PhD Candidate (Primary supervisor A/Prof. Dieter Hochuli, Co-supervisor A/Prof. Nathan Lo)
Email:
Location: A08 Heydon-Laurence Building, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Ticks, hosts, and urbanization: an ecological and social system perspective
Ticks (Ixodida), an order of arthropods that parasitize many animals including humans, are a significant concern for human populations as they can vector pathogens between reservoir hosts and humans, as well as cause nuisance and health problems through bite irritation and side effects. The impact of urbanization upon ticks and their complex patterns of host usage are poorly understood. My project will explore how urbanization impacts ticks, their relationships with hosts and their relationships with humans.


Anushika P.H.M. Herath

Anushika

Position: PhD Candidate (Primary supervisor A/Prof. Clare McArthur)
Email:
Location: Room 409, A08 Heydon-Laurence Building, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

Research: Personality and its influence on diet and parasitic load of mammalian herbivores
Determining diet is a key step in understanding herbivore foraging behaviour. Moreover animal personality may influence foraging behaviour. Little is known about the consequences of personality on fine scale dietary variation of Australian marsupial herbivores in natural settings. My project aims to determine a mammalian herbivores diet using DNA meta-barcoding and to investigate the link between animal personality and an individual’s diet, using wild common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) as a model.


Megan Callander

Megan

Position: PhD Candidate, UWS (Primary supervisor Dr. Ricky Spencer)
Email:
Location: University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury Campus

Research: Social dynamics and population structure of the bush rat (Rattus fuscipes)
Translocation of a native species is a potential conservation technique. Knowledge of social dynamics within a species could be critical in assessing translocation possibilities and population establishment. This research will identify the behavioural mechanisms which maintain the social organisation of bush rat populations and the role the social organisation plays in the translocation process.