Dr Frederik Saltre

Research Fellow (Palaeo-ecological Modelling)

College of Science and Engineering

place Biological Sciences (213)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

I joined Flinders University in the School of Biological Sciences in July 2017 as Research Fellow in Palaeo-ecological Modelling and I am the Coordinator of the Global Ecology Laboratory working with Professor Corey Bradshaw. I am also Associate Investigator in the new ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage.

From 2013 to 2017, I was an ARC Research Associate at the University of Adelaide. Previously, I held a joint one year appointment with the Centre for Bio-Archaeology and Ecology and the School of Advanced Studies (EPHE) as Lecturer at Montpellier (France), and was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Oregon State University (USA).

I am an ecologist interested in how ecosystems change through space and time. I combine modelling approaches with fossil data and genetic knowledge to inform how human pressure and climate changes modified ecosystem functioning such as distributions and interactions of plants, animals, humans, and environments, from a deep-time perspective. I write about ecology and climate change over time from the Late Pleistocene (~126,000 years ago) to the present day, and how our understanding of the past can help prepare us for the future.

  • PhD, Biology Geosciences Agro-resources and Environment, University Montpellier 2, France 2010
  • MSc, Biology Geosciences Agro-resources and Environment, University Montpellier 2, France 2006
  • BSc, Biology of Organisms, University Montpellier 2, 2004
Honours, awards and grants
  • Visiting Scholarship Award at Center for the Study of Origins, University of Colorado Boulder, CO, USA (Spring 2019)
  • Environment Institute’s International Conference Scheme grant, University of Adelaide, SA, Australia (2014)

  • Travel Grant International Biogeography Society Biennial Conference, Miami, FL, USA (2013)

  • 1-year appointment Assistant professor Fellowship, France (2010).

Key responsibilities

My position is primarily research-focussed.

Current/recent Research Associates:

Current/recent/past Research Assistants:

Scientific journal referee:

American Geophysical Union Books, Biology Letters, Canadian Journal of Forest Research, Ecography, Ecological Modelling, Ecology and Evolution, Ecology Letters, Global Ecology and Biogeography, Global and Planetary Changes, Journal of Biogeography, Method in Ecology and Evolution, Nature Communication, PLoS One,Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia and Tree.

Grant reviewer:

British Ecological Society (BES) Review College, European Research Council (ERC), United States of America National Science Foundation (NSF) and Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

Research expertise
Environmental science and management
Plant biology
Quantitative methods
Spatial characterisation of climate variables
Stochastic Modelling
Research interests

An important part of my research has been to develop new mathematical approaches to highlight mechanisms underlying the patterns of megafauna extinction across various (temporal and spatial) scales to provide relevant insights to reduce future biodiversity losses. I developed an innovative multimodel ensemble hindcasting approach to calculate more accurate estimates of first human colonisation and megafauna extinction from fossil records and provided the definitive demonstration of a lack of a continental climate signal in the megafauna extinction pulse in late-Pleistocene Australia. Because the spatial heterogeneity of climate change, and heterogeneous human pressure could have created regional variation in drivers of extinction, I pushed one step further the methodology for inferring extinction/arrival from fossil records by adapting these methods spatially. I aim to map dates of appearance/extinction of species (e.g. Homo sapiens or Woolly mammoth) from fossils and/or archaeological data only, by combining a population-dynamic model to geostatistical approaches.

I am also highly committed in exploring how ecological processes (e.g., migration, fitness, reproductive success...etc.) and/or paleoclimate stability (and instability) drove the ability of vegetation to track its climate optimum for either a few decades or even several millennia, across local areas or entire continents.I used spatial analyses and point process modelling approaches to build a new generation of species distribution models that simulate plant migration accounting for both dispersal processes and intra-specific competition. By using this new tool, I demonstrated that migration processes, vulnerability to drought and fruit set were key factors controlling the beech’s postglacial expansion and potentially responsible for many local extinctions under future climate change.

Teaching interests

Current student supervision

  • Emilie Roy-Dufresne: modelling the effect of climate change on invasive species (PhD University of Adelaide, 2015 -)
  • Antoine Champreux: palaeovegetation modelling (PhD Flinders University, 2018 -)
  • Fiona Laviano: human/megafauna interactions (PhD Flinders University, 2018 -)
  • Kathryn Venning: koala population dynamics (PhD Flinders University, starting soon)

Past student supervision

  • Kathryn Venning: feral cat population models (Honours Flinders University, 2018)
Topic lecturer
BIOD7710 Honours Critical Reading
BIOL3703 PalaeoEcological Modelling
Supervisory interests
Climate-change modelling
Palaeo-ecology and palaeo-climate
Spatial ecology
Species distribution modelling
Higher degree by research supervision
Associate supervisor: Ecology (4)
Higher degree by research student achievements
Mr Sebastián Block Munguía

MSc. in Applied Ecology, graduated with distinction - AUG 2015

Further information


General inquiries for student projects in paleoecology such as megafauna extinctions and/or climate change impacts on plant species paleorange shifts are welcome.

  • Project #1: Quantifying the relative effect of early modern human colonisation patterns on the evolution and diversification of human language
  • Project #2: Using mechanistic SDM to predict plant range shifts in response to large-scale paleoclimate change in Europe and/or northeastern America
  • Project #3: Developping a model-ensemble hindcasting approach to infer the timing of species extinction/occurence from fossil/archaeological records

Other links

The Conversation

Find an expert

Search for experts by name, research, topic or role.

Filter by: