Luke Emerson
CampusBurwood / Off-campus
SupervisorEuan Ritchie
 Desley Whisson
Heiko Wittmer (Victoria University of Wellington)
Mark Elbroch (Panthera)

PhD research

My current PhD research explores the foraging ecology of large carnivores, with a focus on pumas. This research seeks to understand the factors influencing kill rates by large carnivores, and habitat selection and foraging decisions by pumas in response to humans and dominant competitors.

The research will provide insight into various aspects of large carnivore ecology, within an ever-changing human dominated environment, and will have implications for the conservation and management of large carnivores more broadly.

Research interests

My research centres on understanding the mechanisms by which biological communities are structured in space and time, by investigating the factors influencing the distribution, abundance, and behaviour of wildlife, particularly mammals.

This research is important given the persistent and dramatic environmental changes across the globe, largely due to anthropogenic forces, which is resulting in loss of biodiversity and ecological functioning. To date my research has focused on the ecology of arboreal marsupials, macropods, and most recently carnivores.

I am also actively investigating or involved in the following research projects:

  1. Impact of fire and habitat attributes on the distribution of greater gliders and yellow-bellied gliders
  2. Methods for predicting the fine-scale distribution of greater gliders
  3. Novel habitat use and extension to the known range of Leadbeater’s possums
  4. Evaluating macropod habitat preferences using camera traps
  5. Influence of humans and habitat on the temporal activity of carnivores in Belize
  6. Competition and temporal niche separation of carnivores in Belize

Career and education

  • 2020-Present – PhD candidate, Deakin University
  • 2017-2020 – Ecologist and Research Assistant, Arthur Rylah Institute, DELWP, Victoria
  • 2013-2017 – Bachelor of Science (Honours 1st class), University of New England
  • 2006-2007 – Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary: Design and Technology), Charles Sturt University
  • 2003-2004 – Graduate Diploma of Industrial Design, Queensland University of Technology
  • 2001-2003 – Bachelor of Built Environment: Industrial Design, Queensland University of Technology

Selected scholarships, awards and grants

  • 2022 – Deakin, Centre for Integrative Ecology Innovations research grant $10,000
  • 2022 – Deakin SEBE HDR research support funding $2,600
  • 2021 – Deakin, Centre for Integrative Ecology research support grant $2,000
  • 2021 – Deakin School of Life & Environmental Sciences Project Enhancement Grant $500
  • 2021 – Deakin, Centre for Integrative Ecology Innovations research grant $7,000
  • 2021 – Deakin SEBE HDR research support funding $2,600
  • 2020-2024 – Australian Government RTP Fees Offset Scholarship $32,000 per year
  • 2020-2023 – Deakin PhD scholarship $28,600 per year
  • 2016 – UNE Honours research support funding $3000
  • 2016 – Australian Society for Parasitology Undergraduate Prize $400
  • 2015 – UNE Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar Engagement Award $4,000
  • 2015 – Tony Fletcher Prize for Conservation Biology $500
  • 2014 – UNE Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar: School of Science and Technology Special Project $2,000
  • 2014 – UNE Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar Engagement Award $4,000
  • 2014-2016 – UNE Vice-Chancellor’s Scholar for Outstanding Academic Achievement

Selected publications

Emerson, L.D., Ballard, G.A., & Vernes, K. (2019). Conventional distance sampling versus strip transects and abundance indices for estimating abundance of greater gliders (Petauroides volans) and eastern ringtail possums (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). Wildlife Research, 46(6), 518-532.

Professional Memberships

  • Wild Felid Research & Management Association
  • IUCN/SSC Cat Specialist Group

Social media