CIE Seminar Series 2015 – Paradise lost: what can Nemo and co tell us about climate change and the connectivity of marine systems?

David BoothSPEAKER: Professor David Booth, Professor of Marine Ecology, Director, Centre for Environmental Sustainability, School of Life Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney
DATE: Friday, 12th June 2015
LOCATION: Melbourne-Burwood Campus, Room LT5 (B3.07)
TIME: 12:00 noon
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka5.303; and Warrnambool Campus, Room B3.03

ABSTRACT: One of the most anticipated climate-change impacts on our oceans has been poleward range shifts of marine species. However, evidence of range shifts has been sparse, partly due to the lack of long term scientific monitoring needed to detect latitudinal shifts.

Here I describe an ongoing 15-year dataset on coral-reef fish assemblages from the southern Great Barrier Reef to southern New South Wales (Merimbula: 370S). We have recorded over 85 coral-reef fish species at sites in Sydney (330S) and 45 species from Merimbula, mostly damselfishes, butterflyfishes, wrasses and surgeon fishes.

Recruitment of these species into temperate waters is sporadic, and partly related to East Australian Current characteristics and partly due to population dynamics at source and sink locations. Source locations are unclear, but related genetics, otolith and temporal settlement concordance data provide some information. However, despite variable arrivals, a key bottleneck to population establishment is overwinter survival, which is related to water temperature.

I will outline what the dataset has revealed, and the linked experimental work on how physical and biological factors affect establishment of coral-reef species on temperate reefs.

BIO: David Booth is Professor of Marine Ecology and Director of the Centre for Environmental Sustainability at UTS, and President of the Australian Coral Reef Society.

He has published over 100 papers in reef-fish ecology, climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on fishes and fisheries, in the Caribbean, Hawaii, Great Barrier Reef, and studies how tropical fish travel down the East Australian Current past Sydney.

He researches fishes in estuaries around Sydney, the ecology and behavior of threatened fishes such as sea-dragons, black cod and white sharks and the ecology of the deep sea. He is also a strong advocate of sustainable fisheries and marine parks.

Appointments with guest speaker may be made via Peter Macreadie

CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Ecology of bovine tuberculosis control in wildlife and cattle

Robbie McDonaldSPEAKER: Professor Robbie McDonald, Environmental and Sustainability Institute, Chair in Natural Environment, University of Exeter, Cornwall UK
DATE: Friday, 5th December 2014
LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07)
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207 and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Bovine tuberculosis is among the greatest challenges for animal health in the UK. Because of the involvement of badgers as a wildlife reservoir, control of the disease has become technically and politically complex and is characterized by a deep-seated, social conflict around whether or not to control badger populations.

The social biology of badgers is central to the transmission of TB among badgers and onwards to cattle, leading to complex outcomes for interventions aimed at controlling the disease.

Culling badgers has been linked to a perturbation effect, whereby rates of contact among badgers and between badgers and cattle are thought to increase in response to a breakdown in social structures. However, the underlying features of badger behaviour that lead to these effects are not comprehensively characterized.

In this talk, I will provide a summary of the bovine TB problem and current approaches to control. I will then describe recent work detailing the significance of individual and social behaviour for the acquisition and transmission of TB and how this relates to options for control by biosecurity, vaccination and culling.

The technical and political complexity of this disease problem is such that current approaches to control are failing. I will conclude by highlighting that ecological complexity is only part of the problem in control of this disease and that innovative social solutions are likely to be required to address this and other wildlife disease challenges in future.

BIO: Robbie is a wildlife biologist and is Chair in Natural Environment at the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, based on the University’s Cornwall Campus.

Prior to this, Robbie was Head of Wildlife Science at the UK Food and Environment Research Agency, where he lead a large programme of work on wildlife management, including major projects on badgers and TB, invasive species management and sustainable control of wildlife damage.

His interests are in wildlife management and in human conflicts about wildlife. He teaches a Biology of Mammals course at the University, about half of which is about marsupials, so it is about time he made it to Australia!

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Euan Ritchie.

CIE Seminar Series 2014 – The future of marine turtles in the Great Barrier Reef: perceptions and reality

Mark HamannSPEAKER: A/Professor Mark Hamann, College of Marine & Environmental Sciences,Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook University, Townsville
DATE: Friday, 28th November 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07) and Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207

ABSTRACT: The Great Barrier Reef has been well documented in recent media because of concerns about its declining quality. The presence of marine turtles, dugong and dolphins was a key component in having the GBR listed as a world heritage site.

Now there are concerns for these species – for green turtles there has been catastrophic failure of reproduction for around 15 years. Since 2005 our JCU group have been working on a multi-disciplinary research project to understand the futures of green turtles in the GBR.

Our research has focused on three main themes (1) improving knowledge on species biology and habitat use, (2) quantifying risks from climate change and coastal development and (3) understanding the social, economical and governance aspects of turtles and their management. In my talk I will explore some of the options and discuss the perceptions and reality for green turtles in the GBR.

There is a future for green turtles in the GBR but it will take prolonged support from Government and patience.

BIO: I have a long standing interest in Australia’s marine environment. I did honours at Flinders University in Adelaide and then a PhD at University of Queensland.

My PhD research focused on understanding the environmental and physiological drivers of reproduction in green turtles. Since my PhD I have worked on turtle projects across most of northern Australia and SE Asia.

My current research interests are broad and I am involved in project spanning several disciplines – the general theme however is research to improve the knowledge base for decision makers.

Some examples of current projects include, understanding plastic pollution loads in the GBR, tracking turtles and dugong around ports to quantify risks, understanding the links between Indigenous and Western knowledge and how they can be combined to improve management.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Graeme Hays.

CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Eradication of invasive birds from tropical oceanic islands: lessons from Common Mynas Acridotheres tristis

Chris FeareSPEAKER: Professor Chris Feare, Wildwings Bird Management, Guildford, UK
DATE: Friday, 21st November 2014
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07) and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.20

ABSTRACT: While eradication of invasive mammals from islands is now almost routine, with well-established protocols, methodologies for the eradication of birds lags far behind.

The Common Myna has been introduced to oceanic islands throughout the tropics and studies on Indian and Atlantic Ocean islands are beginning to suggest promising tactics and highlighting problems, centred largely on human attitudes and resourcing.

BIO: Chris Feare has studied the management of birds that conflict with man’s interests or are exploited by man in many parts of the world but especially in the Indian Ocean.

Current work centres on the sustainable exploitation of Sooty Tern eggs in Seychelles and the problems caused by, and eradication of, various introduced birds that conflict with conservation of endangered endemic birds on those islands.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Kate Buchanan.

AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: Challenges for assessing status and trends in marine ecosystems: developing a Southern Ocean Observing System

Andrew J.ConstableSPEAKERDr Andrew J.Constable, Leader, Southern Ocean Ecosystem Change Program, Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, Tasmania & Co-leader, Ocean Carbon and Ecosystems Program, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, Hobart, Tasmania
DATE: Friday, 21st November 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.20
TIME: 3:30 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07) and Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207

ABSTRACT: Recent discussions in the IPCC and the Antarctic Treaty System have shown the great importance to policy makers for measuring change in Southern Ocean ecosystems but that there are many gaps in our current knowledge.

A capability is being developed to assess dynamics and trends in these ecosystems to understand what is likely to change as whales and seals recover from over-exploitation, along with the varying influences of ozone hole recovery, ocean acidification and future climate change.

This capability is being developed in two international programs: the Southern Ocean Observing System and in the Southern Ocean Sentinel, which is a signature project in the IMBER Program, Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics of the Southern Ocean.

These two programs complement each other in designing and implementing an observing system to measure change in Southern Ocean ecosystems and in developing statistical and mathematical methods for assessing status and trends in these systems based on the observation system.

This talk will describe the significant progress being made by the Southern Ocean ecological community in building this capability and discuss the future work program that will yield a co-ordinated interdisciplinary, multinational activity equivalent to those programs within SOOS that have been established for the physical sciences.

It will describe how the community is assembling a set of ecosystem Essential Ocean Variables, how it is developing a systematic field program for obtaining these measurements in a cost-effective manner and the innovations that are being sought to enhance this capability. The talk will conclude by presenting the timetable over the next 4 years to deliver a quantitative assessment of status and trends in Southern Ocean ecosystems by 2018.

BIO: Dr. Constable is a marine ecologist using science to assist in sustainably utilising and conserving marine ecosystems.

He has been active in the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) for nearly three decades.

He was a lead author in Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change synthesising knowledge of climate change impacts on Antarctic ecosystems.

His primary interests are (i) developing a scientific basis for the ecosystem approach to managing Antarctic fisheries, (ii) the conservation of Antarctic marine biodiversity, including marine protected areas, and (iii) estimating and assessing the future impacts of climate change on the Antarctic marine ecosystem.

He works closely with oceanographers, sea ice physicists, biologists, ecologists and modellers to help develop simulation models of marine ecosystems. Through the Southern Ocean Observing System (SOOS) and the Southern Ocean Sentinel of the international program Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics (ICED), he is helping facilitate work to build international collaboration in the Southern Ocean to measure rates of change of those ecosystems in response to climate change.

He has recently been appointed as ViceChair (Biology) in SOOS. He has over 40 refereed publications in the scientific literature, edited two special issues on marine ecosystems, and contributed over 160 scientific and policy papers to the work of CCAMLR and other forums. He was lecturer in marine ecology at Deakin University in 1994-1997 before moving to the Australian Antarctic Division.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Ty Matthews.

CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Range Expansion of an Introduced Songbird: Physiological and Behavioral Mechanisms

Andrea LieblSPEAKER: Dr Andrea Liebl, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Exeter, Cornwall
DATE: Friday, 14th November 2014
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07) and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Introduced species cause considerable ecological and economic damage every year, however, not much is known about how certain species are able to establish and spread beyond the site of introduction whereas others do not.

Here, I talk about studies I conducted in an ongoing range expansion of house sparrows (Passer domesticus).  Specifically, I discuss how individuals change throughout the range expansion in physiology (i.e. stress hormone release), behavior, genetic structure, and epigenetic structure.

BIO: Andrea is currently working at the University of Exeter (Falmouth, UK) as a postdoctoral researcher with Andrew Russell.

There, she is studying the maternal effects of cooperation in the chestnut crowned babbler.

For her PhD, she worked with Lynn Martin on the behavioral and physiological effects on range expansion a recently introduced population of house sparrows.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Lee rollins.

AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Game of Drones: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Conservation Research and Applications

Lian Pin KohSPEAKER: Associate Professor Lian Pin Koh, Chair of Applied Ecology and Conservation,The University of Adelaide, South Australia
DATE: Thursday, 13th November 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room B3.03
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT13 (Hc2.005) and Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207

ABSTRACT: Land use change continues to be a major driver of biodiversity loss worldwide. Remote sensing is increasingly being used to monitor changes in forest cover, species distributions and carbon stocks.

However, commercially available remote sensors and remotely sensed data can be prohibitively costly and inaccessible for researchers in many developing countries.

In 2012, I co-founded a non-profit — — to share my experience of using scratch-built, low-cost and autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles for monitoring orangutan populations in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.

Since then, my team and I have travelled to over a dozen countries around the world to introduce this technology to our colleagues in the conservation community. I will talk about the various applications of conservation drones for ecological and conservation research.

BIO: Lian Pin received his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University (2008).

He moved to Switzerland in 2008 and underwent post-doctoral training at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). In 2011, he was appointed a Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor. In 2014, he moved to Australia, and since then has been Associate Professor and Chair of Applied Ecology & Conservation at the University of Adelaide.

Lian Pin currently is also Indo-Pacific, Australasia Editor for Biological Conservation, the Regional Technical Advisor for the Asia-Pacific Field Division of Conservation International, a recent TED speaker, and a Founding Director of a non-profit,

In 2014, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship (Level II).

Lian Pin’s research focuses on addressing emerging environmental and socioeconomic challenges facing tropical developing nations including intensifying land-use conflicts, carbon emissions from land-use change and forestry, and threats to natural ecosystems and wildlife.

He employs a variety of scientific approaches including field surveys and experiments, and developing theoretical and computer simulation models. He also develops and implements innovative approaches to collect data, and disseminate science and science-based decision-support tools to land use decision-makers.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Euan Ritchie or Daniel Ierodiaconou.

CIE Seminar Series 2014 – The role of phylogeny and environment in dictating Drosophila species distributions

Vanessa KellermannSPEAKER: Dr Vanessa Kellermann, Research Fellow, Biological Sciences, Monash University
DATE: Friday, 7th November 2014
LOCATION: Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT5 (B3.07)
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207 and Warrnambool Campus, Room G.1.01 (Percy Baxter LT)

ABSTRACT: Since completing her PhD in 2008 Vanessa has been working towards understanding the processes that shape Drosophila species distributions.

Working with different species of Drosophila collected from all over the world her research has provided evidence for fundamental limits in ecologically important traits in restricted tropical Drosophila species; has tracked evolutionary changes of cold and desiccation resistance across the Drosophila phylogeny demonstrating different patterns of evolution in these traits; and has shown very little variation in heat resistance (critical thermal maxima) across 90+ Drosophila species suggesting most species of Drosophila may have reached a critical limit for heat resistance.

She is currently using a Drosophila comparative framework to examine the extent to which species can respond to changing environments via phenotypic plasticity.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Dale Nimmo.

AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – The adaptive value of melanin-based color: a role for pleiotropy

Alexandre RoulinSPEAKER: Assoc Professor Alexandre Roulin, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.
DATE: Thursday, 6th November 2014
LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207
TIME: 4:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Burwood, Room LT11 (B1.20) and Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13

ABSTRACT: Establishing the links between phenotype and genotype is of great importance for resolving key questions about the evolution, maintenance and adaptive function of phenotypic variation. Variation in melanin-based coloration is an appropriate model system in this context.

Evidence are accumulating that melanin-based coloration is associated with many other phenotypic traits. For examples, dark melanic individuals often invest differentially in immune defences, the regulation of glucocorticoids or energetic processes, associations that are found in organisms as diverse as fish, birds, reptiles or mammals.

A recent genetic model suggested that pleiotropy in the melanocortin system could account for covariations between pigmentation, behaviour, morphology, physiology and life history traits.

I will present the current state of research spanning from molecular evolution to the analysis at the phenotypic and genetic level including polymorphism and gene expression levels.

The study of melanin-based is a good model to study the evolutionary and ecological consequences of pleiotropy. Pleiotropy may indeed account for the covariation between phenotypic traits involved in social interactions (here pigmentation) and life history, morphology, behaviour and physiology.


  • University of Bern (1993); Master (1997); PhD (1999)
  • 3-years postdoc at Cambridge University, UK
  • Assistant Professor position (2004), University of Lausanne, Switerzland
  • Assoc Professor, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

During my entire career I worked on the barn owl on color polymorphism, sibling competition and parent-offspring interactions.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Natasha Kaukov.

AN ADDITIONAL CIE SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: CIE Seminar Series 2014 – Global indicators of biodiversity change: from species to ecosystems

Lucie BSPEAKER: Dr Lucie Bland, ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne.
DATE: Tuesday, 4th November 2014
LOCATION: Warrnambool Campus, Room C1.13
TIME: 2:00 pm
Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Waurn Ponds, Room ka4.207 and Melbourne Campus at Burwood, Room LT4 (B3.05)

ABSTRACT: Global indicators of biodiversity change are crucial to measuring progress towards international targets and prioritizing conservation actions. Such indicators may include the change in coverage of protected areas, the extent of forests and the risk of species extinction.

I will outline challenges and potential solutions for monitoring biodiversity globally, taking the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems as case studies.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the most widely used tool for assessing the risk of extinction to species, with more than 74,000 species assessed as of 2014. However, one is six species on the Red List are assessed as Data Deficient due to paucity of information on their geographic distribution, population status and ecology.Data Deficient species contribute to considerable uncertainty in estimates of extinction risk and may bias conservation priorities towards better-known areas.

My PhD focused on cost-effectively resolving the effects of Data Deficient species on the estimation of extinction risk in six groups (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, crayfish, freshwater crabs and dragonflies). I illustrated how natural history and museum data, combined with powerful computational tools (machine learning, optimization and sampling theory) could inform the monitoring of poorly-known species.

I also shed light on processes driving the availability of conservation information worldwide, and provided recommendations to IUCN for future conservation research efforts. My current work focuses on assessing the risk of collapse of ecosystems to inform the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. I will outline my plans to create models for Ecosystem Viability Analysis, the analogue of PVA for species. I will also explore challenges in linking biodiversity indicators to global conservation policy.

BIO: My research focuses on monitoring progress towards international biodiversity targets and global conservation policy.

I obtained a First Class BA (Hons) in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford in 2010. In 2014 I completed a PhD at the Zoological Society of London and Imperial College London. My thesis focused on the effects of data uncertainty on the estimation of extinction risk in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

In my current position at the University of Melbourne, I develop mechanistic models of ecosystem collapse to inform the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. I am particularly interested in computational statistics, macroecology and the interface between science and policy.

My current research projects include: understanding global biases in biological knowledge; prioritizing species and areas for conservation in the face of severe uncertainty; invertebrate macroecology and macroevolution.

In previous lives I have worked for international organisations (IUCN, CERN) and in natural disaster risk modelling for the insurance sector.

For enquiries and appointments with the guest speaker, please email Rebecca Lester.