Lab News | March 2018

Centre for Invasive Species Solutions

It has been a great start to 2018 for the Invasion Science & Wildlife Ecology team. We have been busily writing grants, welcoming new students and preparing for the year's teaching and research activities!

Phill has also been busy with Associate Head of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology duties and we kicked off the start of the year with a welcome BBQ! It was a huge turn out and great opportunity to meet the new students joining the department this year.

We had a great night out for our annual lab group Fringe event, exploring the Parade of Lights on the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace campus, and attending the No Frills Cabaret show filled with circus, acrobatics, comedy and dangerous tricks!

Our new Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS) project on Understanding and intervening in illegal trade in non-native species has commenced and we are currently in the process of appointing a Research Associate to develop new methods for mining open source information from both the open and “dark” web, to identify social, temporal and geographic predictors of the distribution of exotic pet keeping, alien incursions, and illegal trade.

A very warm welcome to our new PhD students Aakash Lamba and Adam Toomes. Aakash will be exploring accessible, customisable and novel technological solutions for enhancing effectiveness of biodiversity conservation initiatives. Adam is partly funded through CISS and will be monitoring the dynamics of online illegal and legal reptile trade and determining the origins of confiscated wildlife using network analyses.

Our new honours students Aurelie Kanishka & Katie Hill did a great job of presenting their initial honours research seminars this month. Aurelie will be researching evidence for trait dominance in dingo-domestic dog hybrid skeletons, and Katie is investigating isotope ratios in invasive species provenance, using galahs and red-eared slider turtles as case study species. We are looking forward to seeing their results later this year!

Katie Hill & Kristine Nielson have been busy putting together a poster for the 14th Australasian Environmental Isotope Conference (AEIC) in Wellington, New Zealand later this month. They will be presenting preliminary isotopic results from our Environment Institute funded biosecurity provenancing project on red-eared slider turtles.

Busy times are also ahead, Phill will be presenting on Wildlife Trade at the WWF supported Earth Hour event at the University of Adelaide on March 24th, and Phill will also be presenting at the Australian Institute of Criminology’s annual meeting on Organised Crime Research in May this year.

As a group aimed at combatting wildlife crime, we have been assisting Wildlife Alliance to raise enough money to fund five Wildlife Trade signs to be displayed on Tuk Tuk’s in Cambodia, in the hope of raising further awareness on the negative impacts of wildlife crime. In February, we were very excited to see our first (of five) Tuk Tuk signs on the streets of Phnom Penh, commissioned from our morning tea fundraising. Wildlife Alliance, in Cambodia, are one group developing campaigns for greater public awareness regarding the harm illegal wildlife trade has on individual animal welfare and species survival, and ultimately helping to reduce the demand for wildlife products.

Lab News | December 2017

What a great year 2017 has been!

What a great year 2017 has been! Our Honours students Jacob, Adam, Mark and Ellen all successfully completed their honours candidature and Pablo and Toni submitted their PhD’s! It has been a pleasure to have had them all as part of the team and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Our continuing PhD students have been busy with field work, data analyses, presenting at and attending conferences. We welcomed a new member to the team with the arrival of Amy’s baby girl Naomi, and next year Adam will be continuing in the lab and commencing a PhD. Adam will be monitoring the dynamics of online illegal and legal reptile trade. In 2018 we will also welcome two new Honours students, Katie Hill and Aurelie Kanishka. Our new Centre for Invasive Species Solutions project on Understanding and intervening in illegal trade in non-native species will be kicking off early next year!

The lab has been very busy in the last few months. Adam, Sarah and Phill had a great time at the 9th Illicit Networks & Policy Flows Workshops at Flinders University where they gained some great insight into transnational trafficking and network analyses. We have also had several visitors, including Craig White and Pieter Arnold from Monash University, Alex Pigot from University College London, and Rebecca Johnson from the Australian Museum.

It has been very exciting to be working with Rebecca Johnson on our Environment Institute funded biosecurity provenancing of illegal incursions of alien wildlife project. Thanks to Rebecca we now have some more red-eared slider turtle samples and hope to have some exciting results to share in the New Year!

2017 has been a great year for research publications with over 20 papers coming out of the lab this year. Check out our new paper on how to incorporate information on propagule pressure in the analysis of alien establishment success. Phill and Pablo’s new piece on broad conservation practice and protecting the unknowns, has been published along with Sarah’s analysis with TRAFFIC on the global pangolin trafficking routes between 2010 and 2015. Sarah’s research identified that at least 67 countries were involved in pangolin trafficking, highlighting the global nature of this illegal trade. 159 unique international trade routes were identified, with an average of 27 new trade routes emerging every year!

As the end of 2017 approaches, we have had some great Christmas celebrations, including cricket and a BBQ for our departmental Christmas party and this year's lab group Christmas party had it all! Pub drinks, a Thai banquet dinner, weird party golf, and a night club dance off. Sarah proved to be the best golfer in the lab, taking home the crown!

We look forward to sharing more of our research outputs with you in the New Year and wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a safe and relaxing summer period!

Lab News | October 2017

It is an exciting time of the year in the lab!

It is an exciting time of the year in the lab. A huge congratulations to Toni Dalziel for not only successfully submitting her PhD this month, but for also commencing her new position with CSIRO at the Animal Heath Laboratories in Geelong, Victoria. We wish Toni all the best on this new adventure and look forward to many more collaborations in the future!

Jack and Sarah have returned from their holidays in Africa and Germany. Jack encountered some amazing wildlife, in particular he witnessed the wildebeest migration through the Serengeti, Tanzania. Needless to say we were all a bit jealous back in the lab. Talia also recently returned from a holiday to tropical north Queensland where she greatly enjoyed the sunshine, rainforests, waterfalls and snorkelling with turtles on the Great Barrier Reef!

Photo credit: Jack Tatler

Jack also spent time in Germany where he attended the International AniMove Workshop and continued to develop his advanced skills in animal movement statistics.

We would particularly like to congratulate Amy on the safe arrival of her beautiful daughter Naomi. We wish Amy all the best and we hope to meet Naomi soon☺.

We had a great night out to celebrate Toni’s PhD submission, and both Pablo and Jacob's graduations. It was particularly rewarding that so many of our industry colleagues and collaborators could also attend this event, thank you to John Virtue, Andrew Woolnough, Richard Duncan, and Lindell Andrews.

Phill, Thomas Prowse and Pablo Garcia-Diaz attended the NZPF50 gene drive modelling workshop in New Zealand where they presented their work on CRISPR gene drive for pest control. Phill has also been busy with his teaching activities, presenting at the UofA open day, and at the SA Science Teachers Association workshops, where he presented to South Australia’s year 12 science teachers on ‘Maintaining Biodiversity’.

The lab group attended the annual BSSA Quiz Night with our superstar team ‘the magical glow sticks’. It was a great night out helping to raise money for field research grants to assist conservation research in South Australia.

Photo credit:@MarcEHJones (bottom left image); BSSA (bottom right image)

Our new Environment Institute funded biosecurity provenancing project is in full swing with our first red-eared slider turtle samples currently in preparation for isotopic analysis. Using novel biogeochemical analyses this project will develop a set of best-practice methods for determining the provenance of alien wildlife specimens in Australia; either captured at-large or confiscated from illegal-keeping.

Photo credit: Kristine Nielson

Phill attended a Crime Stoppers meeting in Melbourne in September. Crime Stoppers Victoria have launched a new wildlife crime reporting campaign ‘Trafficked, Traded and Traumatised’. Check out Crime Stoppers new video on the risk of red-eared slider turtle introduction in Victoria here. For more information or to report illegal wildlife trade visit the Crime Stoppers website.

Congratulations to our lab affiliate Dr Rebecca Boulton and @nrsamdb @SADEWNR for being awarded the Threatened Species Recovery Fund for the reintroduction of the mallee emu-wren (Stipiturus mallee) to Ngarkat Conservation Park.

It was also a great pleasure to be a part of the @BirdlifeOz kids campout that Rebecca recently ran at Gluepot Reserve. The kids had a great time learning about ecological research techniques such as bird banding and pitfall traps.

Current Opportunities

Honours Projects & Job Opportunity

A number of honours projects are available in global change biology; invasive species pest management; illegal wildlife trade; and the prioritisation of evidence-based biosecurity decision making. Examples of some of these are listed below:

  • Distribution and habitat preferences of overabundant vertebrate pests
  • Overgrazing and biodiversity loss in the Mount Lofty Ranges
  • Social acceptance and risk analyses for next generation vertebrate pest control
  • Alien species provenance and validation using novel isogeochemical tools

Further information on honours projects here >>

We also currently have an exciting new post-doc job vacancy to work with an interdisciplinary team on mathematical modelling of gene drives for pests. Apply now! Applications close 9th November 2017.

Lab News | July 2017

Ever wondered what you need to know about exotic pets in Australia?

Ever wondered what you need to know about exotic pets in Australia? Check out Pablo, Miquel and Phill's new article in The Conversation!

The Advanced DNA, Identification and Forensic Facility (ADIFF) at The University of Adelaide is now a member of the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators neTwork (AELERT). Phill is the primary institutional contact for the University, and we greatly look forward to engaging broadly with the other Australasian members.

Phill and Sarah have just returned from the 'Deep Water, Deep Jungle' study tour to Singapore and Cambodia. The students were immersed in a 13 night experience researching tropical conservation ecology and environmental crime in South Eastern Asia.

Sarah, who is a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Pangolin Specialist Group, attended the Sunda Pangolin Regional Conservation Planning Workshop in Singapore last month. The aim of the workshop was to create the first ever conservation strategy for the species, with priorities including combatting trafficking, strengthening legal policies, and building capacity for effective enforcement. View the full workshop press release here.

Photo credit: Wildlife Reserves Singapore and David Tan

Jack’s dingo trapping at Kalamurina Sanctuary has recently concluded and Jack has caught more than 65 individuals across four field trips. GPS data is now coming in thick and fast! Jack also recently attended the 12th International Mammalogical Congress in Perth where he presented his research on 'Using accelerometers to determine the behaviour of wild dingoes'. We would also like to congratulate Jack on being awarded several grants in recent months. Jack was awarded grants from the Australian Wildlife Society, the Mark Mitchell Foundation, two grants from the Nature Conservancy of South Australia and a travel grant from the Australian Mammal Society.

A huge congratulations to our honours student Ellen Freeman for recently being awarded the Nature Conservation Society of SA’s conservation biology grant to study the 'Diet of wild deer in South Australia'. We would also like to congratulate Jacob for recently completing his honours project and handing in his thesis. Jacob has been an invaluable member of the team, and we wish him all the best in the future!

Our former PhD student (Dr) Pablo was recently awarded a Certificate of Achievement in Research Leadership and Management as part of the IA CRC Balanced Researcher Program, and a Dean's Commendation for Doctoral Thesis Excellence. Well done Pablo!

As part of Phill’s first year advanced Principles and Practice of Research course, we hosted a very special Q&A style event on the hot-topic of ‘Energy security solutions to climate change’. The event was a huge success and we would like to sincerely thank all of the panellists for participating. Panellists included Professor Gus Nathan, Professor Tom Wigley, Professor John Kaldi from UofA, Dr Caroline Croser-Barlow from DEWNR, and Mr Richard Turner from ZEN Energy.

In the last couple of months Phill presented at New Zealand’s Biological Heritage Crazy & Ambitious’ Conference, and at the Australasian Academy of Sciences’ Science at the Shine Dome, annual meeting: ‘Life on the loose: Species invasion and control’. If you missed out, you can catch up on both of his presentations here:

It is going to be quiet in the Lab with Jack and Sarah on holidays in Africa and Germany, and Amy away on Maternity leave. We wish them all the very best, and we (particularly Phill!) look forward to their safe and speedy return to work.

Lab News | May 2017

The lab has been buzzing with activity

In the past couple of months the lab has been buzzing with activity with new students commencing, several field trips, conferences and visitors.

It was great to have our collaborator Chris Shepherd in town last month for a fleeting visit. The Wildlife Trade Working Group (WTWG) hosted a fantastic morning tea event which was a great networking opportunity for the wider University of Adelaide research groups to meet and greet Chris.

Amy is attending the 17th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference in Canberra this week where she will be presenting her research on ‘Fly traps as a tool for monitoring RHDV’. She has also recently co-authored a short communication on RHDV2 overcoming RHDV immunity in wild rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculus) in Australia.

Later this month, Phill is attending New Zealand’s Biological Heritage ‘Crazy & Ambitious’ Conference in Wellington where he will be speaking about ‘pets to pests: threat of invasion from the trade in new alien species’. Phill is also heading to the Australasian Academy of Sciences’ Science at the Shine Dome, annual meeting: ‘Life on the loose: Species invasion and control’ where he is an invited speaker on ‘The ecological and conservation implications of biological invasions’.

Speaking of being out and about, Jack is currently out trapping and tracking dingoes again in Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary, and as usual we are anticipating some great stories when he’s back.

The honours students gave their initial research talks, and for Adam, Ellen and Mark the field work has started. Adam is researching the distribution of Cunningham’s skink in the Mount Lofty Ranges, and Ellen is studying the diet and impact of Mount Lofty Range alien deer. Mark is examining fox bait delivery methods at Gluepot Reserve, and Yorke Peninsula. We are looking forward to seeing what they discover over the next few months.

Congratulations to our former PhD student Pieter Arnold who has recently published another significant output from his PhD research ‘Investigating movement in the laboratory: dispersal apparatus designs and the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum.

Phill has been busy teaching in his advanced science course ‘Principles & Practice of Research’ and has just returned from a productive field trip to Calperum Station, South Australia with his third year ‘Concepts in Ecology’ students. Phill was also recently a guest speaker on Wendy Harmer’s ABC radio Sydney Morning show, talking about illegal wildlife trade and invasive species in Australia. Check it out here!

Lab News | March 2017

Happy new year

It has been a very busy start to the New Year for the IEG team! Phill has just returned from two overseas trips. Firstly in the US, Phill attended the National Science Foundation National Socio-Economic Synthesis Center (SESYNC) working group on “Linking Trade, Biology, and Pet Owner Decisions to the Risk of Vertebrate Invasions in the US”, and secondly, Phill attended the ‘Asian Songbird Crisis Summit’ in Singapore where he met with lab colleague Chris Shepherd from TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. Whilst in the US, Phill also got to catch up with a great friend of the lab, Mark Hauber.

The lab has some great new research papers out. Former lab member Miquel Vall-llosera Camps has three new papers out on bird trade:

Ellie Dyer has a fantastic new paper out on the ‘The Global Distribution and Drivers of Alien Bird Species Richness’, and Sarah, Sally and Phill in collaboration with Tim Blackburn have just published their work on ‘Patterns of selectivity in introductions of mammal species worldwide’.

A huge congratulations to Pablo Garcia-Diaz for not only successfully completing his PhD with us this year, but for also landing a Postdoctoral position with Landcare Research in New Zealand. We wish him all the best on this new adventure and look forward to many more collaborations with him in the future!

We are pleased to welcome to the lab three new honours students, Adam Toomes, Mark Laws, and Ellen Freeman, and two new master’s students, Chandran Pfitzner and Rachel Su Yi McLean. Take a peek at what they will be working on here.

Lab News | December 2016

Merry Xmas

The lab has been busy with several new papers out! Check out Pablo’s paper ‘The illegal wildlife trade is a likely source of alien species’ and his related article in The Conversation. Sarah’s first PhD publication ‘Where did all the pangolins go? International CITES trade in pangolin species’ comes with a great app for visualising CITES pangolin trade networks, check it out here! Miquel also recently published his work on ‘Improved surveillance for early detection of a potential invasive species: the alien Rose-ringed parakeet Psittacula krameri in Australia’, and Nina’s paper on ‘High adaptive variability and virus-driven selection on major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes in invasive wild rabbits in Australia’ is out now! A big congratulations to Ellie Dyer on the acceptance of a key paper from her alien bird thesis, the ‘Global Avian Invasions Atlas - A database of alien bird distributions worldwide’.

Sarah has just returned from a productive trip to Malaysia (No Phill, it wasn’t a holiday!), where she met with her co-supervisor Chris Shepherd and our colleagues at TRAFFIC Southeast Asia. Sarah worked in the TRAFFIC office in Petaling Jaya during her visit and also got to explore both Belum Temengor and Taman Negara. Taman Negara is a National Park in Malaysia, where Sarah saw monitor lizards, siamangs, leopard cats, civets, owls, various frog species, snakes and skinks, birds of prey (e.g. white bellied sea eagle and the crested serpent eagle), five different species of hornbills and many colourful songbirds.

Left: Infographic from The Conversation Article; Right: Clouded Monitor (Varanus nebulosus, image source Sarah Heinrich)

Phill, Tom and Toni had a productive trip to Melbourne for the One Health EcoHealth Conference, where Toni presented her work on ‘Persistence of low pathogenic influenza A virus in water: A systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis’, and Phill and Tom got to catch up with our colleagues Craig White, Steve Portugal, and Dugald McGlashan.

Jack presented his research 'spying on dingoes in the desert' at the ESA annual conference in Fremantle WA, and shot to stardom featuring on channel 10’s SCOPE season 3, episode 137, watch it here!

We are excited to announce that Sarah and Freyja have just launched a new Wildlife Trade Working Group (WTWG). Watch this space next year as the group launches a new blog and releases the meeting schedule for the year!

We would like to officially welcome our newest member to the lab, Raissa Sepulvida who will be joining us over the next few months as part of the UofA Summer Research Scholarships. Thanks to our recent visitors, Tim Blackburn from the UK, Nina Schwensow from Germany, Dave Ramsey from the Arthur Rylah Institute and Richard Duncan from the University of Canberra.

We look forward to introducing you to our new honours and PhD students next year, and welcoming many more visitors throughout 2017.

MERRY XMAS and HAPPY NEW YEAR from the Invasion Ecology team!

Lab News | October 2016

Some great new lab papers out this month

A huge congratulations to Amy for making it to the UofA 3MT finals. Amy came second runner up at the UofA faculty finals and won the people’s choice award.

We would like to officially welcome our newest member to the lab, Masters student Annie Robinson (University of Edinburgh) who will be conducting her thesis project on wildlife cyber-crime with us.

Phill has recently accepted a position on the International Science Advisory Panel for New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge. He will also be speaking at the Australian Academy of Science Annual Symposium in Canberra in May 2017 on the topic of ‘ecological and conservation implications of biological invasions’. In December, Toni, Phill and Tom will be attending the 2016 OneHealth Conference in Melbourne.

Jack has returned safely from his latest field trip to Kalamurina where he retrieved two of his collars that had dropped off. He also trapped six young adult dingoes but was unable to collar them due to size constraints. Sarah is jetting off to Malaysia next month to meet with her co-supervisor Chris Shepherd (regional director of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia).

Thank you to Andrew Woolnough and Craig White for taking the time to visit and collaborate with the lab again last month, and we are excited to welcome back Nina who will be visiting the lab again later this month from Germany, and Tim Blackburn from the UK.

We have several new papers out this month. Toni’s meta-analysis ‘Persistence of Low Pathogenic Influenza A Virus in Water’ and Su Shans paper on ‘Geographic range expansion of alien birds and environmental matching’. Miquel has also published his work on ‘Physical attractiveness, constraints to the trade and handling requirements drive the variation in species availability in the Australian cagebird trade’, and Pieter Arnold published his second PhD paper on ‘Movement ability of an invasive beetle is related to leg length but not body size nor metabolic rate’. Pablo and Phill have also co-authored a great paper on the ‘need for invasion science’. Sarah’s first PhD publication has just been accepted, so watch this space for her publication on international CITES pangolin trade!

Lab News | August 2016

Spying on Dingoes in the Desert

We are very excited to officially welcome two new students. Honours student Jacob Maher will be studying the conservation value of zoos, and PhD student Freyja Watters will be researching the illegal wildlife trade of Indonesian reptiles.

We have two new papers accepted for publication this week! Pablo’s paper in the Journal of Applied Ecology has shown that Australian border biosecurity measures are effective at reducing the risk of introducing new diseases (such as ranaviruses) being transported alongside alien amphibians. Ellie’s new paper in Global Ecology and Biogeography presents a global analysis of the determinants of alien geographical range size in birds, helping to identify which alien bird species are more likely to spread.

Jack has been busy conducting behavioural studies on captive dingoes at Cleland Wildlife Park, and he is heading back up to Kalamurina in September to deploy 6 more collars and collect camera data. Check out The Advertiser news article featuring Jack’s research, “Spying on Dingoes in the Desert”!

We are also pleased to announce that the Invasion Ecology Group has been successful in securing two Interdisciplinary Research Grants from the University of Adelaide. These funds will provide great support for our research into combatting wildlife crime and management of the Mount Lofty Ranges biodiversity hotspot.

Lab News | June 2016

Welcome to our new PhD student Shannon!

Congratulations to Tom Prowse for his recent paper on the global proliferation of cephalopods, co-authored with the team from the Gillanders Aquatic Ecology Lab. Congratulations also to Adam Cardilini for his outstanding effort, having successfully completed his PhD candidature. We wish Adam all the best in this new adventure!

Phill will be heading off to Singapore and Cambodia next month on the Water, Tropical Ecology and Animal Trafficking Study Abroad Tour.

In other news, Amy has started her industry placement with the Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF), and Jack recently attended a workshop on refuges for threatened species as part of the National Environmental Science Program (NESP). Jack will also be heading back to Kalamurina in early July to install some cameras and track the progress of his dingo collars.

We welcome Shannon Lauchlan to the Invasion Ecology team, co-supervised by Ivan Nagelkerken in the Southern Seas Ecology Laboratories. Shannon is working on human vs climate change effects on estuarine fish and shellfish communities and productivity.

We are particularly pleased to be supporting the FREE family nature campout event in October this year!

Lab News | April 2016

The NRM conference was a huge success!

The lab has been buzzing with activity this last couple of months! The NRM conference was a huge success with many of our lab members presenting their research findings throughout the three day event. Pablo, Amy, Freyja, Phill, and Tom all presented talks and showcased the diverse range of research output from our lab!

The NRM conference also hosted the launch of the University of Adelaide’s new Centre for Conservation Science & Technology (CCoST) of which Phill is the Deputy Director. For more information on CCoST and the research objectives please download the brochure here!

Jack has been busy running the field component of his PhD research at Kalamurina Sanctuary, located between Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre and the Simpson Desert. Jack has been trapping and collaring dingoes with GPS and accelerometer sensors to determine their behaviour, resource selection and aspects of their physiology, including daily energy expenditure and behavioural thermoregulation. Jack has continued to be successful with his grant applications so far this year. We would like to congratulate him on being awarded two grants to help fund his project, the Joyce W. Vickery Scientific Research Fund from the Linnean Society of NSW and the Nature Foundation of SA’s ‘Scholarship Grant’.

We are very excited to officially welcome Sarah Heinrich as our newest PhD student, and congratulate her on recently being awarded an international PhD scholarship for her project titled ‘Quantitative assessment of the illegal global trade of pangolin species from Southeast Asia and Africa’.

We would like to congratulate Tom Prowse on his new role as a statistical modeller in the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence, in the School of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide. We would also like to congratulate Robert Cope for his new role, also in the School of Mathematical Sciences where he will be working as a postdoctoral research fellow on a Data to Decisions CRC project to predict disease outbreaks and spread using data assimilation and open data.

We are very grateful that Craig White from Monash University took the time to visit the lab again this year. Craig gave a fantastic seminar to the School of Biological Science’s on the causes and consequences of metabolic variation in animals, and he also opened our student awards night ceremony with an inspiring talk for our students looking to build a career in biological sciences.

Phill and Pablo have been busy running the third year field trip in Calperum over the university holidays, and Phill is off again to Sydney this week with several meetings with our collaborators at TRAFFIC, ZAA, and the Australian Museum.

We have three new papers accepted for publication this week. Toni’s paper on the proposed surveillance for influenza A in feral pigs with be available in EcoHealth very soon! Phill’s new paper has been accepted for publication in Oryx and will be available this week ‘Taking a stand against illegal wildlife trade: the Zimbabwean approach to pangolin conservation’. Ellie’s PhD paper ‘A global analysis of the determinants of alien geographic range size in birds’ has also been accepted in Global Ecology & Biogeography. Keep an eye on our twitter feed for updates on these papers and more!

Lab News | February 2016

Farewell to two of our valuable team members, Sally Scrivens and Dr Nina Schwensow

We hope everyone has had a great start to the New Year!

The IEG have hit the ground running and we have two new publications out this week!

Our publication in PLoS ONE ‘Integrative analysis of the physical transport network into Australia’ comes with a novel interactive web tool! Be sure to test it out here. We have also had a great response to our paper in Biology Letters on alien species as drivers of recent extinctions!

We would like to congratulate Sarah Heinrich on her new position in the lab, working on ‘transnational illicit wildlife trade in pangolin species’.

A big congratulations also goes to our colleague, Dr Joshua Ross, for being awarded the 2016 JH Michell Medal!

Pablo has launched a new blog, so be sure to check out his latest tips on modelling and analysing ecological data!

Sadly this month we have to farewell two valuable team members, Sally Scrivens and Dr Nina Schwensow. We wish them both well on their travels and hope to see them back in the IEG soon!

The NRM Science Conference is fast approaching, don’t forget to register your attendance now!

A new strain of RHDV (the rabbit calicivirus) is on the move in South Australia right now and we're very keen to find out more about what it is doing and how different it is to the usual strain. We'd really appreciate any reports of mysteriously dead rabbits - they usually look more or less like they've just fallen asleep on the ground, with no obvious wounds unless a scavenger has got to them. Rabbits that have died from myxomatosis on the other hand tend to have puffy sores around the face. If you find a mysteriously dead rabbit like this please give David Peacock a call on 08 83039504 or 0417355498. If you're happy to put the rabbit in the freezer or at least some place protected from scavenging foxes then we can organise to get hold of it for samples, so that we can verify whether the cause of death was this new RHDV strain.

Lab News | December 2015

What a year 2015 has been!

What a year 2015 has been! Our honours students have been awarded with First Class results after successfully completing their theses, while our new and continuing PhD students have been busy with field work and presenting at conferences. We would like to congratulate Dr Su Shan and Dr Ellie Dyer on their outstanding efforts, having successfully completed their PhD candidatures this month. It has been a pleasure to have had them both as part of the Invasion Ecology Group and we wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

The ARC Discovery Project 'Transport risk pathways for emerging invasive species' is progressing well, our paper on the ‘Integrative analysis of the physical transport network into Australia’ is currently in review and comes with an interactive web tool that we are excited to share with the broader research community.

November was a busy month with ESA in town, with many of our lab members both attending and presenting at the conference. The lab has also been buzzing with visitors. We would like to thank Tim Blackburn for visiting throughout November, and presenting the EES department with a great talk on ‘Following alien birds along the pathway to impact’. We would also like to thank Richard Duncan from the Institute for Applied Ecology for his recent visit to the lab, and we look forward to collaborating on some exciting projects in the near future.

Jack recently attended the Eco-Stats conference in Sydney and Robert is off to Sydney in the New Year for the Marine Bioinvasions conference.

We would also like to congratulate Emma Matthews for being awarded a summer scholarship to work with the Invasion Ecology Group and thank her for all of her great work towards our current wildlife trade projects.

IEG look forward to welcoming more visitors throughout 2016 and sharing more of our research output. We wish you all a safe and relaxing Xmas and summer period!

Lab News | October 2015

A red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) was recently spotted in Salisbury East, South Australia.

We would like to congratulate Freyja and Melanie for recently completing their honours projects and handing in their theses; both have worked extremely hard throughout the year and we wish them well in their future endeavours. Check out next year’s Honours Projects if you are interested in joining the IEG team!

Pablo and Phill recently travelled to Melbourne for the IA CRC Incursions Theme Meeting, and Phill has also been on an exciting trip to Singapore for the Songbird crisis summit.

A red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) was recently spotted in Salisbury East, South Australia. Red-eared Slider Turtles are in the top 100 worst pests worldwide, and it is illegal to import, keep, trade or release Red-eared Sliders in Australia. Please help to keep Australia pest free!

Red-eared Slider Turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans) © Pablo Garcia Diaz

We would like to congratulate Nina for securing more funding from Rabbit Free Australia to support a de novo genome assembly of the RHD virus isolated from flies. This project aims to discover more about the transmission of RHDV between rabbit populations.

Our PhD students have been very busy. Su Shan recently published a new paper in Biological Invasions on The wildlife pet trade as a driver of introduction and establishment in alien birds in Taiwan. Toni is off to Innamincka again in November to add another year of data to her PhD project "The persistence of avian influenza in the South Australian environment and the potential role of invasive mammals for additional surveillance". Jack is also off on some exciting fieldwork in November, where he will be helping out with some fox trapping at Scotia Sanctuary.

We would like to thank Associate Professor Craig White and PhD Candidate Pieter Arnold for recently visiting the lab and presenting us with an informative update on their recent research on the evolution of physiological and behavioural traits benefiting dispersal at the invasion front.

The ESA 2015 Annual Conference is just around the corner. Steve, Tom, Pablo and Robert from the IEG team will all be presenting on their research so don’t forget to register now!

Lab News | August 2015

Don’t forget to register for the ESA 2015 Annual Conference

Don’t forget to register for the upcoming ESA 2015 Annual Conference to be held in Adelaide this November! Check out the exciting list of keynote speakers online now. Early bird registrations close Friday 18th September so don’t miss out!

Robert has an exciting trip ahead! He is jetting off to Rome in September to present his work on climate matching at the European Ecological Federation Conference. Toni will be attending the national avian influenza working group meeting in Melbourne this September and Jack has been busy wrangling wombats and yellow-footed rock wallabies. Jack travelled to Aroona Sanctuary and trapped yellow-footed rock wallabies as part of a long term mark-recapture study and also caught southern hairy-nosed wombats at Brookfield Conservation Park as part of a study investigating the relationship between wombat and vegetation condition.

We would like to thank Dave Ramsey for his recent visit to the lab in July and we are excited to welcome more visitors over the coming months.

Lab News | June 2015

A sad farewell to one of our valuable team members Miquel

The invasion ecology group has been very busy this month! PhD student Jack Tatler has been awarded the BSSA Field Research Grant, the Nature Conservation Society of South Australia’s Conservation Biology grant, and the Australian Geographic Society grant! We would like to congratulate Jack on his outstanding effort. We are also very proud to announce that Pablo was awarded the student prize for his talk at the SEEM in New Zealand this month. Toni will be attending the Wildlife Disease Association International Conference at Maroochydore in Queensland in July, and Pablo and Miquel will be heading to Christmas Island for field work in July. The lab has also had lots of visitors and would like to thank Reid Tingley, Andrew Woolnough and Lee Ann Rollins for their informative seminars.

We would like to farewell one of our valuable team members Miquel this month. Miquel is finishing his post doc with the IEG and heading off to Birmingham. We would like to thank him for his invaluable input to the lab and wish him all the best in his new role. We also welcome a new member to our team, Sarah Heinrich who has joined us from Germany on an internship.

Phill is jetting off in July on the Water, Tropical Ecology and Animal Trafficking Study Tour with 15 students from the School of Biological Sciences to visit Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam. Students will be immersed in a 13 night experience observing ecology and animal trafficking in South Eastern Asia. Visits to live animal markets, conservation parks and a guided nature walk will also be included. This immersive cultural experience will enable students to gain knowledge and understanding of the South East Asian animal trafficking trade and their conservation efforts.

We are also excited to announce that Phill will be opening the 2015 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition on Friday July 31st at the South Australian Museum. The exhibition will run from 1 August – 30 August 2015 so be sure to get along and check it out!

Lab News | April 2015

Duckwatch & Pint of Science

It is an exciting time for the lab in the coming months! Duckwatch lead by Dr Toni Dalziel is in full swing and if you are keen to volunteer jump on the Duckwatch website now! The international Pint of Science festival is coming to Adelaide in May! Some of the world’s best scientific researchers will be sharing their latest findings in pubs across Australia. The festival runs from the 18th to the 20th May 2015 in 40 cities across 8 different countries. Phill will be one of the panellists at the Tuxedo Cat on Tuesday May 19th from 7pm. Come along and meet the IEG team!

Congratulations to Pablo, Miquel, and Amy who successfully completed their IA CRC Research Reviews held in Canberra in March! Robert recently attended the fourth Australia New Zealand Applied Probability Workshop held in the Barossa and Roberts’s latest paper ‘Temporal modelling of ballast water discharge and ship-mediated invasion risk to Australia' is online now!

Pablo will be heading to New Zealand in June for the Statistics in Ecology and Environmental Monitoring conference. Pablo will be presenting a talk on ‘Australia’s border (bio-)security: cancelling the invasive frog-driven apocalypse?’. Pablo will also be attending the pre-conference workshop on advanced spatially-explicit capture-recapture in Dunedin.

We look forward to welcoming more visitors to the lab in the coming months. Dr. Reid Tingley from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) at the University of Melbourne will be presenting a talk to the lab on ‘Managing the spread of invasive amphibians under uncertainty’ on Tuesday May 26th at 12pm. Lee Ann Rollins from the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at Deakin University will also be visiting the lab in May. Lee Ann will be discussing ‘Invasive species as a model for the study of rapid evolution’. Please come along on Tuesday May 19th at 2pm. We hope to see you there!

Over the next 18 months, we need your support for research investigating the exposure of ducks and other water birds on the River Torrens to avian influenza or bird flu.

Practical solutions to the biodiversity crisis.

Come along and meet the scientists who are making a difference to the planet we live on!

  • Prof. Andy Lowe: Illegal logging and forensic timber tracking technologies
  • Assoc. Prof. Lian Pin Koh: Innovative drone technology for conservation
  • Assoc. Prof. Phill Cassey: Mitigating human-induced biological invasions

Lab News | February 2015

Follow us on our new twitter page!

We are very pleased to welcome our commencing students Jack Tatler (PhD Candidate) and Melanie Crossley (Honours Candidate). Jack’s research will focus on the impacts of current dingo management techniques on biodiversity, ecosystem resilience, and livestock. Melanie’s honours project will focus on the efficacy of wild-dog control in the South Australian pastoral arid lands.

In collaboration with the Pastoral Board of South Australia, our summer research scholarship student Grace Porter-Dabrowski has been very busy over the past 10 weeks digitising the archive database on the holding and turnover of sheep and cattle across South Australian pastoral properties.

Sally Scrivens is embarking on a new role in the lab, where she will be working on developing knowledge and tools to inform integrated management of Spencer Gulf: case study on shipping and ports.

Toni recently visited Marcel Klaassen’s lab at Deakin University in Geelong to learn how to run a diagnostic test for her research, and process samples taken from two field trips last year. Whilst there she also gave a short talk to Marcel’s lab group outlining her research and discussed some possibilities for collaboration in the future.

Thank you to Reuben Keller all the way from Loyola University of Chicago, and Dave Ramsay from the Arthur Rylah Institute for their recent visits to the lab. We would also like to thank Konstans Wells for presenting a summary of his research to our group this month.

The annual Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) conference will be held in Adelaide this year from November 29th - December 3rd. Phill is the Chair of the scientific committee, and expressions of interest for symposia are open now, jump online now to find out more!

The Invasion Ecology Group has launched a new Twitter page this year! We will be tweeting all things invasive, please follow the link to start following us now!

Lab News | December 2014

Merry Xmas and happy New Year!

2014 has been jam packed with numerous visitors to the lab, new staff joining the team and the commencement of our ARC Discovery Grant ‘Transport risk pathways for emerging invasive species’.

Phill, Miquel, and Ellie recently attended the New Zealand Ecological Society conference in Palmerston North. Phill delivered the keynote plenary ‘Biological invasions of vertebrate species: pets, pests and people’. In addition, Miquel and Ellie presented their work on ‘Indian Ringnecks: from pets to pests - Assessment of the status, potential distribution and impacts of exotic Psittacula krameri in Australia’, and ‘The Global Avian Invasions Atlas (GAVIA): Using a global-scale spatial database of alien bird species to answer key questions in invasion ecology’, respectively. Congratulations to Ellie for winning the student prize for best presentation under the theme of the meeting!

Congratulations to Pablo García Díaz who has recently been awarded the 2014 IA CRC Student Grant for his work on vertebrate risk-assessment and pet-trade pathway models. Read more on the Invasive Animals CRC website: ‘Champions in pest animal research and management awarded’.

L-R: Helen Cathles – IA CRC Chair, Prof Stephen Sarre, Pablo García-Díaz and Andreas Glanznig, CEO – IA CRC (Image source: Invasive Animals CRC)

Welcome back to Toni and Sally from their successful field trip to Innamincka, collecting samples from feral pigs as part of Toni’s PhD: ‘The persistence of avian influenza in the South Australian environment and the potential role of invasive mammals for additional surveillance’.

Feral pig on the shore of Coongie Lake, Innamincka SA (Image source: Sally Scrivens)

We look forward to welcoming more visitors throughout 2015, and wish you all a very merry Xmas and happy New Year!

Lab News | July 2014

Transport risk pathways for emerging invasive species

We extend a warm welcome to Dr Robert Cope and Talia Wittmann who join us as a Research Associate and Research Assistant, respectively. Robert and Talia will be working on the ARC Discovery Project 'Transport risk pathways for emerging invasive species’. We are also very pleased to welcome our new 2014 Honours student Freyja Watters.

At the 16th Australasian Vertebrate Pest Conference in Brisbane, Phill delivered his keynote speech ‘Incursion and containment: Pests and pets, the future of vertebrate Biosecurity’. Phill was joined by fellow lab members Toni, Sally, Nina and Amy. In addition, Miquel and Pablo presented their work on ‘Predicting bird incursions: the role of abundance, market value and species traits as drivers of the private bird trade’, and ‘Understanding the transport and introduction of vertebrates to manage invasions: reptiles in Australia’, respectively. Tom and Phill also recently attended the AMSA conference in Canberra, to present their work on ‘Integrating species distribution models with transport networks to inform biosecurity risk assessment’.

Congratulations to Amy who has recently been awarded a grant from the Foundation for Rabbit Free Australia which will fund part of her PhD research ‘Investigating rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) resistance to rabbit haemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV) variants in Australia’. This funding will contribute to the development of an extensive rabbit pedigree, which will be used to determine how much influence genetic resistance to the calicivirus has on the rabbit's overall ability to survive and breed in the field. Miquel has also been awarded a post-doctoral travel grant by the Environment Institute to attend the 2014 NZ Ecological Society meeting, this November in Palmerston North.

Thank you to Erin Grey and Andy Suarez all the way from Notre Dame in the US and the University of Illinois, for their recent visits to the lab. We look forward to welcoming more visitors throughout the year. In particular, Ellie and Su Shan will be back in the lab in October. Please find a link to Ellie’s blog here.

In other news, the calicivirus "outbreak season" is arriving, and we're on the lookout for any dead rabbits (that don't appear to be road kill or eaten by foxes!) that we can take samples from. If anyone notices the outbreak in their area we'd love to be notified via the BIOSECURITY SA website.