Dr Georgia Ward-Fear

A08 - Heydon-Laurence Building
The University of Sydney

Research interests

My research interests are eclectic but could be summed up as the conservation and restoration of ecosystems using evolutionary insights. Broadly my work falls into three streams:

General wildlife ecology – Fundamental life history and ecological research to broaden our understanding of wildlife populations. In particular, I explore drivers of ecological functionality in native systems. Through this framework I aim to i) clarify functionality gaps as restoration targets ii) identify keystone species for conservation works; and ii) shift paradigms about invasive species in disrupted ecosystems.

Evolutionary basis of animal behaviour – Identifying behavioural traits in individuals and across populations, and exploring how this knowledge can be applied to conservation challenges. Previous work has focused on behavioural mismatches between invasive and native species, leading to control opportunities. Currently, I’m working on exploiting innate behavioural mechanisms in native predators to affect a widescale conservation strategy that should buffer the impact of invasive cane toads in Northern Australia. I am also interested in identifying behavioural syndromes in populations that influence susceptibility and resilience to environmental perturbations, such as invasion or habitat destruction. I am fascinated by animal behaviour but even more tickled when we can capitalise on it.

Conservation – I aim to develop novel and workable solutions to environmental problems, applying basic ecology and evolutionary theory and often working on landscape level interventions. Importantly, I understand that conservation is an interface between science and people. As such I collaborate widely with an amazing array of stakeholders, including Wildlife organisations, Governments, and NGOs. I also work closely with the indigenous ranger network across Northern Australia and in the course of this I aim to understand how academics can better engage with Indigenous Traditional Owners during research, to ensure that collaborations are meaningful for all parties. Other research interests include human-wildlife interactions, namely wildlife exploitation (on multiple scales). I help to develop sustainable harvesting strategies that maintain species health, socio-economic outcomes and cultural practices.

Current projects

My post-doc focuses on rolling out the first landscape-scale Cane toad mitigation strategy in Northern Australia. The conservation methodology targets multiple apex predator species and works with multiple stakeholders ahead of the Cane toad invasion front.

You can read more about the project at it's website:

www.canetoadcoalition.com

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Pearson, D., West, A., Rollins, L., Shine, R. (2018). The ecological and life history correlates of boldness in free-ranging lizards. Ecosphere, 9(3), 1-13. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Pearson, D., Shine, R. (2017). An invasive tree facilitates the persistence of native rodents on an over-grazed floodplain in tropical Australia. Austral Ecology, 42(4), 385-393. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Thomas, J., Webb, J., Pearson, D., Shine, R. (2017). Eliciting conditioned taste aversion in lizards: Live toxic prey are more effective than scent and taste cues alone. Integrative Zoology, 12, 112-120. [More Information]
  • Tingley, R., Ward-Fear, G., Schwarzkopf, L., Greenlees, M., Phillips, B., Brown, G., Clulow, S., Webb, J., Capon, R., Sheppard, A., Shine, R., et al (2017). New weapons in the toad toolkit: A review of methods to control and mitigate the biodiversity impacts of invasive cane toads (rhinella marina). The Quarterly Review of Biology, 92(2), 123-149. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Pearson, D., Brown, G., Rangers, B., Shine, R. (2016). Ecological immunization: In situ training of free-ranging predatory lizards reduces their vulnerability to invasive toxic prey. Biology Letters, 12(1), 1-4. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Greenlees, M., Shine, R. (2016). Toads on Lava: Spatial Ecology and Habitat Use of Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Hawai'i. PloS One, 11(3), 1-16. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Shine, R. (2010). Factors affecting the vulnerability of cane toads (Bufo marinus) to predation by ants. Linnean Society. Botanical Journal, 99, 738-751. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Shine, R. (2010). Using a native predator (the meat ant, Iridomyrmex reburrus) to reduce the abundance of an invasive species (the cane toad, Bufo marinus) in tropical Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47, 273-280. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Greenlees, M., Shine, R. (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. [More Information]
  • Wei, Y., Greenlees, M., Ward-Fear, G., Shine, R. (2009). Predicting the ecological impact of cane toads (Bufo marinus) on threatened camaenid land snails in north-western Australia. Wildlife Research, 36(6), 533-540. [More Information]

2018

  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Pearson, D., West, A., Rollins, L., Shine, R. (2018). The ecological and life history correlates of boldness in free-ranging lizards. Ecosphere, 9(3), 1-13. [More Information]

2017

  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Pearson, D., Shine, R. (2017). An invasive tree facilitates the persistence of native rodents on an over-grazed floodplain in tropical Australia. Austral Ecology, 42(4), 385-393. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Thomas, J., Webb, J., Pearson, D., Shine, R. (2017). Eliciting conditioned taste aversion in lizards: Live toxic prey are more effective than scent and taste cues alone. Integrative Zoology, 12, 112-120. [More Information]
  • Tingley, R., Ward-Fear, G., Schwarzkopf, L., Greenlees, M., Phillips, B., Brown, G., Clulow, S., Webb, J., Capon, R., Sheppard, A., Shine, R., et al (2017). New weapons in the toad toolkit: A review of methods to control and mitigate the biodiversity impacts of invasive cane toads (rhinella marina). The Quarterly Review of Biology, 92(2), 123-149. [More Information]

2016

  • Ward-Fear, G., Pearson, D., Brown, G., Rangers, B., Shine, R. (2016). Ecological immunization: In situ training of free-ranging predatory lizards reduces their vulnerability to invasive toxic prey. Biology Letters, 12(1), 1-4. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Greenlees, M., Shine, R. (2016). Toads on Lava: Spatial Ecology and Habitat Use of Invasive Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) in Hawai'i. PloS One, 11(3), 1-16. [More Information]

2010

  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Shine, R. (2010). Factors affecting the vulnerability of cane toads (Bufo marinus) to predation by ants. Linnean Society. Botanical Journal, 99, 738-751. [More Information]
  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Shine, R. (2010). Using a native predator (the meat ant, Iridomyrmex reburrus) to reduce the abundance of an invasive species (the cane toad, Bufo marinus) in tropical Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology, 47, 273-280. [More Information]

2009

  • Ward-Fear, G., Brown, G., Greenlees, M., Shine, R. (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. [More Information]
  • Wei, Y., Greenlees, M., Ward-Fear, G., Shine, R. (2009). Predicting the ecological impact of cane toads (Bufo marinus) on threatened camaenid land snails in north-western Australia. Wildlife Research, 36(6), 533-540. [More Information]

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