Position: Post-Doctoral Fellow
Phone: 02 9351 5608
Fax: 02 9351 5609
Location: Room 207, A08 - Heydon-Laurence Building, University of Sydney, NSW 2006 Australia
Since being awestruck by the sight of Blue-tongued lizards cruising around in the back-yard of my suburban Sydney home as a (younger) kid, I’ve been keenly interested by anything and everything to do with natural history of reptiles in particular and Australian fauna in general. Since then I’ve grown to appreciate and develop an interest in the study of ecology and evolution, which is a perfect excuse for learning about the animals! I feel fortunate then in having been able to hang around in the Shine lab and associated top-end field station for a few years now, which has culminated in me almost having completed my PhD.
I completed honours in 2005 under the co-supervision of Professor Shine, Dr Jonno Webb and Dr Greg Brown. My project involved an investigation into some aspects of foraging and competition by the introduced cane toad on a tropical floodplain. Due to their well-documented toxicity when ingested, most previous studies on interactions between toads and native fauna have tended to focus on those with potential predators of toads. Few studies however have attempted to investigate how toads interact as predators or competitors.
By constructing natural field enclosures I was able to quantify the impact of toads on native invertebrate communities and then compare this to the impact of some native frogs (the giant burrowing frog, Cyclorana australis and Dahl’s frog, Litoria dahlii). Using the same enclosures I was able to experimentally investigate competition between toads and giant burrowing frogs, determining the effect of intra and interspecific competition on foraging success and behaviour of both species. To round off my project I conducted field surveys in areas with and without toads to predict how my experimental findings would possibly extrapolate to the field.
Following honours I was employed as a research assistant based at Fogg Dam on the Adelaide River floodplain in the Northern Territory, where I conducted the field work and experiments for my honours project. My job entailed continuing research into the impacts toads have on invertebrate communities and investigating potential interactions between toads and everything from fish to small mammals to reptiles.
Again supervised by Professor Shine and Dr Greg Brown, over the past three and a half years I have been researching interactions between cane toads and native frogs in northern Australia for my PhD. Given their ecological similarity to toads, frogs were obvious candidates to explore how cane toads, as an invasive species, might interact with and affect native species. Adding to the benefits of working on frogs, they are super-abundant, making the science part easier, and almost as cool as reptiles.
My research can be very broadly characterized into two areas. The first being habitat use by frogs compared to toads where I have collected data on microhabitat used by both frogs and toads, at different types of water bodies, during different seasons. By having collected this data, I can also look at more general patterns of invasion by toads with respect to native diversity and abundance.
The second, and by far more detailed part of my work looks at how frogs as predators interact with toads as potential prey. Despite toads being notoriously toxic, studies of impacts on predators have mostly been limited to reptiles or mammals. However, my work has determined that certain species of frogs are also vulnerable. With this knowledge, I have expanded on this theme to look at how vulnerability of the species of frogs that are susceptible to poisoning might have changed – both in the short term and over much longer time-scales. I have also looked at some of the factors that might influence vulnerability within species, as well as learned aversion behaviour. Aside from this I have also been involved in a number of other projects examining the impact of cane toads on native Australian fauna and have won the Thursday night pool comp at Corroboree Park Tavern on a number of occasions.
|1.||Greenlees, M., J. K. Webb, and R. Shine. 2005. Led by the blind: bandy bandy snakes Vermicella annulata (Elapidae) follow blindsnake chemical trails. Copeia 2005:184-187.|
|2.||Greenlees, M. J., G. P. Brown, J. K. Webb, B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2006. Effects of an invasive anuran (the cane toad, Bufo marinus) on the invertebrate fauna of a tropical Australian floodplain. Animal Conservation 9:431-438.|
|3.||Phillips, B. L., G. P. Brown, M. Greenlees, J. K. Webb, and R. Shine. 2007. Rapid expansion of the cane toad (Bufo marinus) invasion front in tropical Australia. Austral Ecology 32:169-176.|
|4.||Greenlees, M. J., G. P. Brown, J. K. Webb, B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2007. Do invasive cane toads (Chaunus marinus) compete with Australian frogs (Cyclorana australis)? Austral Ecology 32:900-907.|
|5.||Webb, J. K., G. P. Brown, T. Child, M. J. Greenlees, B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2008. A native dasyurid predator (common planigale, Planigale maculata) rapidly learns to avoid toxic cane toads. Austral Ecology 33:821-829.|
|6.||Shine, R., M. Greenlees, M. R. Crossland, and D. Nelson. 2009. The myth of the toad-eating frog. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 7:359-361.|
|7.||Ward-Fear, G., G. P. Brown, M. Greenlees, and R. Shine. 2009. Maladaptive traits in invasive species: in Australia, cane toads are more vulnerable to predatory ants than are native frogs. Functional Ecology 23:559-568.|
|8.||Phillips, B. L., M. J. Greenlees, G. P. Brown, and R. Shine. 2009. Predator behaviour and morphology mediate the impact of an invasive species: cane toads and death adders in Australia. Animal Conservation 13:53-59.|
|9.||Pearson, D., M. Greenlees, G. Ward-Fear, and R. Shine. 2009. Predicting the impact of cane toads (Bufo marinus) on camaenid land snails in north-western Australia. Wildlife Research 36:533-540.|
|10.||Greenlees, M. J., B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2010. An invasive species imposes selection on life-history traits of a native frog. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 100:329-336.|
|11.||Greenlees, M., B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2010. Adjusting to a toxic invader: native Australian frog learns not to prey on cane toads. Behavioral Ecology 21:966-971.|
|12.||Greenlees, M. J., and R. Shine. 2011. Impacts of eggs and tadpoles of the invasive cane toad (Bufo marinus) on aquatic predators in tropical Australia. Austral Ecology 36:53-58.|