Understanding nature

How do species respond to environmental change, behaviourally, physiologically and evolutionarily?

  • Evolutionary responses to environmental change
  • Behavioral, developmental and physiological adaptations
  • Movement ecology in unpredictable or modified landscapes
  • Biodiversity drivers and constraints: natural and sexual selection
  • Native and threatened species ecology and behaviour

Find a CIE researcher in this theme (A to Z):

Abbey McDonald | Dr Alexandra McQueen | Dr Alizée Meillère | Amy Longmuir | Anaïs Pessato | Prof Andy Bennett | Ange Pestell | Anna Miltiadous | Anne Canelle Eichholtzer | Anthony Rendall | Dr Antoine Dujon | April Timmis | Batbayar Galtbalt | A/Prof Beata Ujvari | Biang La Nam Syiem | Billy Geary | Cassie Speakman | Prof Chris Austin | Dr Christa Beckmann | Clare Vernon | A/Prof Daniel Ierodiaconou | Darcy Watchorn | Dr Desley Whisson | Prof Don Driscoll | Eilysh Thompson | Dr Elodie Camprasse | Dr Eric Treml | Prof Euan Ritchie | Eve Udino | Fanny-Linn Kraft | Flora Lam Kim | Prof Graeme Hays | Hui Yu | Irin Sultana | Alfred Deakin Prof John Endler | A/Prof John White | Dr Kaori Yokochi | Prof Kate Buchanan | Kendrika Gaur | Kristal Sorby | Kristian Bell | Kristina Macdonald | Laura Medina Rivera | Lorenzo Galletta | Luke Emerson | Alfred Deakin Prof Marcel Klaassen | Dr Marina Telonis-Scott | Dr Martino E. Malerba | Dr Mary Young | Dr Mathew Berg | Matthew Lefoe | A/Prof Matthew Symonds | Mitchell Johnston | Dr Mylene Mariette | Nicolas De Almeida E Silva | Nynke Raven | Parvathi Krishna Prasad | Dr Paul Tixier | A/Prof Peter Biro | Rachel Mason | Dr Raoul Ribot | A/Prof Raylene Cooke | Reihaneh Bandari | Roberto M. Venegas | Dr Rohan Brooker | Dr Sanja Van Huet | Sara Balouch | Sara Ryding | Dr Scarlett Howard | Simone Stevenson | Stacey Harwood | Sundara Mawalagedera | Dr Susanna Venn | Tamara Camilleri | Thomas Burns | Thomas Cansse | Prof Thomas Madsen | Dr Tim Jessop | Tobias Ross | Vanessa SkrzypczykYakupjan (Yakup) Niyazi | Yonina H. Eizenberg |

Abbey McDonald

My research involves using Neogene aged fossil ostracod shells from various Victorian geological formations to investigate the palaeo-ecology of the various species. The effect changing oceanic conditions had on the ostracod fauna during this time period is also investigated.

Dr Alexandra McQueen

Birds use heat exchange through their bills to regulate body temperature. Our research investigates evolutionary changes in bill size in response to climate change across a wide range of bird species. We are further investigating how wild birds use their bills to dissipate heat during hot conditions.

Dr Alizée Meillère

My research aims to understand how birds respond to and cope with anthropogenic change (e.g., challenges associated with urbanization or with introduced man-made chemicals). My current work investigates the effects of early-life anthropogenic noise exposure (both pre- and post-natally) on avian development (physiology, morphology, cognition) and long-term fitness.

Amy Longmuir

Phytophthora cinnamomi is a eukaryote pathogen which threatens many native and ecologically importent plant species in Australia. My research uses a whole genome approach to understand to evolution of the pathogen and the specific genetic profiles which play a role in infection.

Anaïs Pessato

My research aim to investigate how much thermoregulation capacity in the heat varies amongst individuals and how much developmental plasticity may contribute to this variation. I addressed this question using captive and free-living zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), an arid adapted species.

Prof Andy Bennett

Animal behaviour and ecology, especially movement ecology and navigation of nomadic waterbirds, functions of avian coloration, and thermal responses of birds.

Ange Pestell

Using camera traps, I am investigating the presence of predators, small mammals, reptiles and amphibians in two similar vegetation types in the mallee of NW Victoria, with a particular focus on time since fire, to assist land managers with fire management planning.

Anna Miltiadous

I study avian maternal effects, particularly maternal corticosterone (the principal avian stress hormone) and its effect on reproductive outcomes including offspring epigenetics.

Anne Canelle Eichholtzer

With the help of citizen scientists, we are testing a new video monitoring technology aimed towards the survey of small vertebrates (mammals, reptiles, frogs). For these smaller animals, the current methods are usually expensive, time-consuming and disruptive; this technology will help to make surveying them more practical and accessible. Future steps will include the development of an algorithm to automatically recognize and classify them on the video camera trap.

Anthony Rendall

My research focus spans the fields of conservation biology, landscape ecology and coastal ecology with particular interests in threatened species recovery. My research aims to develop more holistic styles of management and to better utilise ecosystem resilience in conservation actions.

Dr Antoine Dujon

Obtain insight on the evolution of cancer in terrestrial and marine species and the implications for their conservation.

April Timmis

Evolutionary ecology of escape responses in birds.

Batbayar Galtbalt

My research mainly focuses on understanding the migratory behaviour of long-distance migrant birds in relation to environmental condition and climate change. Currently, I use the movement tracking data of cranes and shorebirds in association with environmental datasets in order to reveal how they cope with different atmospheric and on-ground conditions.

A/Prof Beata Ujvari

Being an evolutionary ecologist, my research focuses on the interactions between organisms and their biotic and abiotic environment and how the combination of these parameters affects organismal fitness. My research links evolution and ecology to molecular genetics to explore the significance of genetic and epigenetic organismal responses to both macro- and micro environmental challenges.

Biang La Nam Syiem

I work on the community ecology of birds in heterogeneous forest-agricultural landscapes. Through this work, I aim to understand the relative roles of different ecological processes in structuring biodiversity.

Billy Geary

My research aims to understand native and threatened species ecology, particularly species interactions, and look for ways to embed that in conservation decision-making.

Cassie Speakman

My research aims to use modelling techniques and animal-borne data loggers to understand the behaviour and movement ecology of marine predators. Of particular interest is how species respond to climate change and human-induced changes to the natural environment.

Prof Chris Austin

I use genomic techniques to investigate and understand evolutionary responses to environmental change over a range of time scales and I am interested in evaluating new tools for biodiversity assessment using environmental DNA. I have a special interests and expertise in inland and marine environments and crustacean and fish species.

Dr Christa Beckmann

I am a field-based ecologist with broad research interests centred on the theme of how animals respond to changes in their environment. I use an integrative approach to understand costs and benefits of attributes of animals in hypothesis-driven research, combining observations with experiments and comparative studies.

Clare Vernon

Native and ecosystem ecology; focus on alpine meadows ecology in Australia, and globally how we measure this ecosystem change (systemic review).

Dr Daniel Ierodiaconou

Applying innovative approaches in marine biodiversity assessments to understand patterns and processes to inform marine spatial planning.

Darcy Watchorn

I look at how native small mammal species respond to environmental change, such as fire, how they move through modified landscapes.

Dr Desley Whisson

I am interested in the behavioural response (e.g. shifts in activity periods, movement through the landscape) of vulnerable or threatened species to landscape modification due to urbanisation, or land use such as timber production.

Prof Don Driscoll

Wildlife movement is key theme of my research. Movement influences how reptiles, frogs and invertebrates use fragmented farming landscapes, how chytrid fungus is spread to susceptible frog hosts, and how reptiles and other groups respond to fire.

Eilysh Thompson

The invasion of large herbivores represents a serious threat to Australian native biodiversity. The aim of this project is to investigate the role that dingoes play in regards to this invasion, particularly how they influence feral herbivore distribution and behaviour.

Dr Elodie Camprasse

My PhD research focused on understanding individual specialisations in foraging behaviour in seabirds.

Dr Eric Treml

Our broad research interests are in marine ecology and conservation, specifically in understanding the causes and consequences of population connectivity, implications for biodiversity and assisting in local-to-global conservation planning.

Prof Euan Ritchie

Mammal Ecology and Conservation; Movement Ecology; Predator-Prey Interactions; Urban Ecology.

Eve Udino

My current research investigates how developmental plasticity shapes individuals’ coping mechanisms, especially to high temperatures, in the zebra finch, an Australian arid-zone bird. I am interested in the response occurring during heat-stress at the behavioural, hormonal and cellular levels.

Fanny-Linn Kraft

My research is focused on trans-generational effects of developmental stress on song learning in birds.

Flora Lam Kim

In my PhD, I am trying to understand how algae will react to changing conditions. I am studying defense responses of seaweeds, especially their antioxidant potential.

Prof Graeme Hays

We use satellite tags and data loggers to record the movement of free-living individuals and the environments they live in. This work includes satellite tracking sea turtles and other species and tagging and photo-id for long-term identification of individuals to assess survival rates. Tracking data help reveals operational sex ratios, links to the incidence of multiple paternity and threats. We monitor incubation conditions for sea turtles, particularly in light of the role of temperature in driving hatchling sex ratios and survival, which underpin concerns for sea turtle extinction in a warming world.

Hui Yu

The increasingly shrinking size and energy efficiency of current trackers helps researchers to better understand physiological, behavioural, and ecological mechanisms across a broad range of taxa. My research focuses on developing ways to study wild animal behaviours continuously through state-of-the-art trackers.

Irin Sultana

I am studying the population dynamics of migratory shorebirds to understand their peril condition along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway. Around 40 years of banding and re-sighting data of Victorian Wader Study Group and Australasian Wader Studies Group will be handled as a part of my study with the specific aim of extracting annual recruitment and annual survival data for a number of key species.

Jerónimo Vázquez-Ramírez

How do seeds and seedlings respond to extreme climatic events like heat waves, droughts or bushfires?

Alfred Deakin Prof John Endler

I am interested in predicting the direction of evolution given known environmental parameters, changing climate and habitats makes this more practical than ever.

I am a Fellow of the Royal Society, London (FRS) and was awarded the inaugural Suzanne Cory Medal for outstanding contributions to science by the Australian Academy of Science, 2021.

A/Prof John White

My research focuses mainly on the ecology of native small mammals in natural landscapes and powerful owls in natural and disturbed landscapes. We also utilize tracking technologies to better understand movement and habitat use.

Dr Kaori Yokochi

I have studied how roads impact the survival, movement and genetics of threatened native fauna. I’m also studying the impacts of artificial lighting on native microbats.

Prof Kate Buchanan

I am interested in how animal signalling systems evolve within the context of local environmental conditions. In particular I have focused on the evolution of signalling and communication behaviour in birds. Having conducted my PhD work on the evolution of bird song, my interests currently lie in testing the transgenerational impacts of early life conditions on song learning and cognition. For this I have developed experimental manipulations of condition and am testing the impact on physiological systems, behaviour and fitness. In conjunction with Dr Mylene Mariette I have developed an interest in prenatal acoustic sensitivity in birds and the relevance for vocal learning. Throughout my work I use a range of condition indices, including immune parameters and endocrine measures to assess individual and maternal effects.

Kendrika Gaur

My research focuses on the optimization of eDNA (Environmental DNA) sampling methods in aquatic and terrestrial systems. eDNA techniques use the DNA deposited by animals into the environment (soil, air,

sediment or water) to detect the present species. I am working on the following three projects:

  1. Conservation Ecology and Genetics of the Pink-tailed worm Lizard (Aprasia parapulchella) which is native and threatened in Australia.
  2. Is eDNA a better way to monitor Australia’s wildlife? This project uses a novel eDNA sampling arena to collect eDNA from terrestrial fauna in the Mallee region.
  3. eDNA monitoring of the threatened frog species in the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot of India.

Kristal Sorby

I am examining the developmental, physiological, behavioural, and evolutionary responses of vertebrates to changes in their glucocorticoid signalling system, and how this signal acts as a primary driver of broader whole-organism trait changes.

Kristian Bell

I am studying the impact of fragmentation, agriculture and changes to fire regimes on the ecology, function and distribution of a native, foundation species of grass; Triodia scariosa.

Kristina Macdonald

My research aims to understand how herpetofauna respond to both fire and predation in South West Victoria. This research is interesting in how native fauna is responding to key threats.

Laura Medina Rivera

Communities and biodiversity have to adapt to climate change, and the methodology of my research is a sustainable way out, Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI).

Lorenzo Galletta

My work focus on the incubation behaviour of an arid adapted bird (Zebra Finch), to unravel its future changes in relation to climate change and how those will affect the eggs and embryo development.

Luke Emerson

My PhD research seeks to understand the influence of differing factors on the behavioural, spatial and foraging ecology of pumas. This research will provide insight into the ecology and impact of an apex predator within an ever changing environment, and will have implications for conservation and management initiatives in other systems where large carnivores occur.

Alfred Deakin Prof Marcel Klaassen

I have developed broad ecological research interests including theoretical, experimental and observational studies on numerous animal, plant and microbe taxa. Throughout this, my focus has primarily been on increasing our understanding of bird migration, nutritional ecology and disease ecological issues.

Dr Marina Telonis-Scott

I focus on evolutionary responses to environmental change, specifically climatic adaptation at the behavioural, physiological, genetic and genomic levels.

Organisms faced with climate stress can either move away from stressful conditions, adapt via evolution, or in their own lifetimes express different phenotypes to environmental challenge a process known as phenotypic plasticity, mediated through shifts in gene expression.

I take an integrative approach to study plastic and evolutionary responses to key climate drivers on the Australian East coast, incorporating the impact of sex and sexual selection on climate adaptation.

Dr Martino E. Malerba

Artificial lakes in agricultural areas can influence the distribution of native and invasive species.

Dr Mary Young

Environmental drivers of biodiversity.

Dr Mathew Berg

Avian sensory ecology including coloration, olfaction and acoustic signalling (calls and song). Behavioural ecology, stress ecophysiology, and avian breeding biology.

Matthew Lefoe

I will be studying the the conservation of Yellow-bellied Gliders (Petaurus australis australis) in Victoria. This species has recently been federally listed as Vulnerable (EPBC act 1999).

A/Prof Matthew Symonds

I am interested in the evolution of diversity, and what has generated difference in behaviour, morphology and physiology between closely related species. I use comparative cross-species approaches to study this, with particular focus on the effects of climate on morphology and the evolution of communication (particularly chemical and visual).

Mitchell Johnston

My research focuses on the mycorrhizal symbiosis and how important biotic and abiotic drivers may impact belowground plant-fungal species interactions.

Dr Mylene Mariette

I study avian acoustic communication, including between parents and embryos, as a heat-adaptation strategy, in the arid-adapted zebra finch, and other species. I study the developmental, physiological, genetic and behavioural impact of that communication system. I also work on parental care, social network, and sexual selection.

Nicolas De Almeida E Silva

My project questions shearwaters responses to environmental changes. It involves niche segregation, how do short-tailed and wedge-tailed shearwaters affect one another in recently established sympatric colonies, but also how they adapt to climate change in terms of migration trajectories and foraging ecology.

Nynke Raven

Tasmanian devil immune profiles can alter due to local environmental variables, parasites and other internal factors. My research investigates how these factors and subsequent changing immunity, affects transmissible cancer infection and progression.

Parvathi Krishna Prasad

I am studying movement and social behaviour of elephants in a dynamic, human-modified landscape. My study also looks at the fine-scale behavioural responses of elephants to people in human–use areas.

Dr Paul Tixier

Behavioural innovations and prey switching by large marine predators (odontocetes) in response to fisheries and changes in prey availability.

A/Prof Peter Biro

My research is currently exploring linkages between animal physiology, behaviour, life-history, and natural and human-caused selection in fish and other organisms. In particular, I want to know what promotes the existence (& maintenance) of consistent individual differences in behavior, often termed ‘personality’ or ‘temperament’, and what this means for predator-prey interactions, and for practical issues such as sampling bias and the effects of human harvesting of animal populations.

Rachel Mason

My work is focused on understanding dingo ecology in semi-arid systems, and how lethal control of dingoes can alter ecosystem characteristics including herbivore abundance and invasive species behaviour. It covers native and threatened species ecology and movement ecology, as I will be mapping dingo and small threatened mammal occurrences over landscapes currently undergoing disturbance in the form of fire and lethal apex predator control.

Dr Raoul Ribot

My work is mainly focused around the theme ‘understanding nature’, e.g. evolutionary responses and adaptations of species (mostly birds) to environmental change, movement ecology of waterbirds in unpredictable landscapes and the ecology and behaviour of native Australian birds.

A/Prof Raylene Cooke

My research focus is on raptor movement ecology and how these birds are responding to different land use changes, particularly in relation to varying degrees of urbanization and landscape modification.

Reihaneh Bandari

The goal of 15 among SDGs related to life and land and some its targets and indicators related to the protected species of flora and fauna which I will research about in my case study.

Roberto M. Venegas

Ocean landscapes and climate change effects on species distribution.

Dr Rohan Brooker

I am a behavioural ecologist who works with tropical and temperate marine species. I am interested in predator-prey interactions, interspecies mutualisms, habitat specialisation, and recruitment, and how these processes are affected by anthropogenic disturbance.

Dr Sanja Van Huet

Changes in environment and species over the Quaternary Period.

Sara Balouch

The major focus of my research involves understanding the consequences of different agricultural practices on habitat quality and the response of reptiles towards these habitat changes. We are investigating the patterns of reptile distribution in different habitat conditions and land management practices to assess the response of reptiles towards habitat degradation.

Sara Ryding

Our research looks at how birds are changing morphologically in response to climatic warming. Birds partly thermoregulate with their beaks and legs, and some evidence suggests the size and shape of beaks and legs are becoming larger to better handle higher temperatures. We aim to explore where and why these patterns exist.

Dr Scarlett Howard

My research will examine how urbanisation and other human-influenced environments are impacting native and introduced bee species in terms of their foraging, pollination, biodiversity, distribution, physiology, and cognition. I will use the gathered information to investigate the evolutionary origins of behaviour and foraging strategies in Australian native bees.

Simone Stevenson

My PhD project focuses on measuring and understanding change to biodiversity on large scales (national to global) using biodiversity indicators.

Stacey Harwood

My PhD involves researching the behaviour and ecology of koalas within a temporally and spatially complex landscape.

Sundara Mawalagedera

My research investigates the evolutionary relationships among a native Australian medicinal plant clade which lacks scientific appraisal. It comprise several species of conservation priority.

Dr Susanna Venn

My research tackles how alpine plants and plant communities respond to environmental changes, disturbances and extreme events, in terms of their distribution, community composition and thermal tolerances.

Tamara Camilleri

My PhD project focuses on measuring and understanding change to biodiversity on large scales (national to global) using biodiversity indicators.

Thomas Burns

Amphibian ecology.

Thomas Cansse

During my PhD I’m studying the movement and foraging ecology of black-faced cormorants breeding on Notch Island, Bass strait.

Prof Thomas Madsen

No info….

Dr Tim Jessop

Much of my research studies the effects of environmental, ecological and anthropogenic disturbances on animal physiology, ecology and evolutionary biology.

Tobias Ross

I am studying the effects of increasing levels of pollution on migratory shorebirds to determine how these pollutant levels change over time and how they vary between species of the East Asian Australasian Flyway (EAAF).

Vanessa Skrzypczyk

My research looks at the differences in nutritional properties of seaweeds and how these properties change with location and species type.

Yakupjan (Yakup) Niyazi

Geological processes underwent on the seafloor, will lead the environmental and ecological changes, which ultimately can impact the biodiversity of the ocean.

Yonina H. Eizenberg

My research aims to focus on the habitat ecology requirements including the movement ecology of small seabirds during the breeding season.