Conservation and Wildlife Biology/Animal Behaviour and Evolution (Habitat use, behavioural ecology, social behaviour, hybridization, parthenogenetic organisms, evolutionary ecology)
I completed my undergraduate studies in Botany and Zoology at Monash University where I obtained a BSc(Honours) in 1998. I then obtained his PhD. in Zoology at the University of Sydney under the guidance of Prof. Richard Shine in 2004. This included a one year Fulbright fellowship the USA where I collaborated with Prof. Kellar Autumn at Lewis and Clark College in Portland Oregon, and Prof. Warren Porter at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. I then took up an Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research (CESAR) from 2004-2006. I joined the Zoology Department as a lecturer in 2007.
The impact of climate on animals
My research in this field is focused on understanding how climate impacts on the distribution and abundance of terrestrial animals. My approach combines laboratory and field investigations of ecophysiology and behaviour. A particular focus is on developing trait-based, mechanistic models that enable predictions of distributions under current and future climates with GIS data. I have been working with Prof. Warren Porter at The University of Wisconsin to develop computer programs that use energy balance equations and microclimate models to predict how traits (behaviour, morphology and physiology) of organisms interact with climatic conditions to affect key fitness components such as potential activity time, development and growth rates, water balance and food requirements. Importantly, this trait-based approach makes it possible to incorporate evolutionary change. Current and widely-used regression-based approaches to this problem are unable to incorporate evolution because they use the distribution points of the organism as a starting point rather than its traits. The trait-based models we are developing work for any kind of ectotherm or endotherm and hold great promise for enhancing our understandin