Several projects are currently being researched by the Dickman Lab. There are two ARC funded research projects which are based in the Simpson Desert and several student projects in different regions of the country.

Current ARC - funded Research

Student Research

Post Doctoral Research

Current ARC - funded Research

The renaissance predator: complex predator-prey interactions and vertebrate diversity in arid Australia. Chris Dickman

Predators are often viewed simply as animals that hunt live prey, but emerging evidence suggests that the effects usually quite subtle, sometimes positive, and reach far beyond the organisms that they kill. Using an extensive database of observations of vertebrates in the Simpson Desert, western Queensland this project first identifies the red fox and the sand goanna as key regional predators and then outlines a novel program of observations and experiments to quantify their effects on the broader prey community. The results will probe and extend current theory about predator-prey interactions, providing the first mechanistic understanding of how predation influences prey diversity in arid Australia, and enhance our ability to conserve and manage the rich biotic resources that characterize the vast inland regions.

Dynamic networks in a  patchy landscape : will species interactions adjust to increased climatic extremes? Chris Dickman and Glenda Wardle

Extreme weather events are expected to become more frequent and more intense in the near future and, more than changes in climatic averages, are likely to have dramatic effects on species populations and on the suites of interactions that sustain them. In this project we first identify series of plant and animal assemblages that exhibit interaction networks, and then outline novel observations and experiments that quantify how they change among habitats during extreme events in the climatically unpredictable environment of the Simpson Desert, Queensland. The results will probe and extend current theory about how ecological systems respond to extreme events, and provide the first insights into the mechanisms that drive change. The results will also foreshadow the impacts of extreme events as they intensify in uncertain environments elsewhere, and thus enhance our ability to conserve and manage the rich biotic resources that characterize Australia’s vast inland regions.

Student Research

Chin Liang Beh Population dynamics of native rodent communities in the Simpson Desert.
Tony Buckmaster Ecology of the feral cat in forests in east Gippsland.
Alex Diment Fox reinvasion in response to lethal control.
Graeme Finlayson Reintroduction of bettongs, bilbies and bridled nailtail wallabies in western NSW.
Anke Frank Effect of grazing on small vertebrates in the Simpson Desert.
Tim Parratt The role of fire and rainfall on seed production in The Simpson Desert.
Louise Pastro Vertebrate responses to broadscale wildfire in the Simpson Desert.
Max Tischler Distribution and structure of bird communities in the Simpson Desert.
Alison Towerton Defining the fine-scale movements and habitat preferences of the red fox in forests.

Post Doctoral Research

Mike Letnic The role of dingoes in the arid zone ecosystem



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Sept 2012

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  • Sydney University student wins ... view here
  • Simpson Desert so hot right now view here
  • Changes predicted for the Simpson Desert's ... view here
  • PhD opportunity on arid zone ants... view here
  • Desert research on Catalyst... view here
  • Chris wins NSW Scientist of the year ... read more
  • Simpson Desert featured on Iconic Landscapes
  • September 2009 volunteer trip report ... read more
  • November 2009 volunteer trip report ... read more
  • 20 years of desert research showcased by ABC radio national ... read more
  • Video of November 2009 Desert trip
  • Desert flourishes after summer rains
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