Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology
School of Biological Sciences
I joined Flinders University in the School of Biological Sciences in January 2017 as the new Matthew Flinders Fellow in Global Ecology. I am also a Chief Investigator in the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.
From 2008-2015 I was at the University of Adelaide (Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change 2015-2016), and from 2004-2008 I was Senior then Principal Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University. I was an ARC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Tasmania from 1999-2004.
My research is mainly in the area of global-change ecology — how human endeavour and climate fluctuations have altered past, present and future ecosystems. My most important contributions have been in the area of applied ecology, biodiversity conservation, theoretical ecology, extinction dynamics, human demography, species responses to climate change, disease ecology, and applying ecological theory and modelling techniques to hindcast prehistoric ecosystems. My work has provided environmental policy advice around the world, and my papers are highly cited.
My most recent book (2015) with Professor Paul Ehrlich of Stanford University is entitled Killing the Koala and Poisoning the Prairie: Australia, America and the Environment (Chicago University Press). I am currently writing another book with Professor Ehrlich nominally entitled Jigsaw Utopia, as well as another solo effort entitled The Effective Scientist (under contract with Cambridge University Press).
My position is primarily research-focussed.
During my early research years I focussed primarily on the population dynamics and behavioural ecology of land-breeding marine fauna. Later, I moved to a more modelling-based focus examining the temporal and spatial patterns of ecological processes, including density-feedback mechanisms. As part of this work, I have established a strong profile in the determinants of extinction risk of modern flora and fauna, the degradation of ecosystem services from anthropogenic habitat change, and the spatial dynamics of marine biodiversity. I have developed applications in disease ecology, predator-prey dynamics, and climate change predictions.
Much of my work has focussed on providing evidence for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development pathways. I have devised new ways of projecting human population size, with implications for long-term climate change and biodiversity maintenance; I have developed models to predict the best times to apply mosquito control for the reduction of disease risk, promote fisheries sustainability, assess the determinants of effective protected areas, and define the optimal mix of low biodiversity-impact electricity generation. I examined carbon cycles and budgets, examined broad-scale ecological patterns in response to climate gradients, and experimentally manipulated climate for fine-scale experiments in community composition and resilience.
My modelling framework has revolutionised how palaeo-ecologists and palaeontologists treat uncertainty in the chronology of palaeo-ecological events. I have led the development of state-of-the-art quality assessment criteria for fossil dating to ensure that only high-quality dates are used in palaeo-ecological analyses, and established a novel protocol for using palaeo-ecological data to predict the locations of as-yet-undiscovered fossil sites. I have also shown the dominant, continental-scale effect of humans (cf. climate change) on the demise of the Australian megafauna, and the influence of climate change and humans on the extinction/transition dynamics of Holarctic and South American megafauna.
I have a deep commitment to and strong capacity for communicating the implications of my science to the broader public via traditional media (television, radio, newspaper, etc.). I am an avid proponent of public engagement via social media and blogging (ConservationBytes.com, Twitter, Facebook), and I give many public lectures each year. I also contribute regularly to The Conversation. I am an active Board Member of the environmental NGO Bright New World, a core member of the not-for-profit scientific organisation, Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers and Thinkers, and I am Node Liaison for the Millennium Allicance for Humanity and Biosphere.
I can also be reached at +61 (0)400 697 665.
|Phone:||+61 8 82012090|
|Postal address:||GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia|