UTS PhD candidates paving way for compassionate conservation
The UTS Centre for Compassionate Conservation is hosting the 3rd International Compassionate Conservation Conference this November. Joining local and international speakers are some great young PhD candidates researching a diverse range of projects.
Gavin Bonsen - Surveying the ‘landscape of fear’ in the Middle East
In areas where humans are absent, wildlife populations are now flourishing. Gavin Bowne is investigating how human conflict zones in the Middle East (militarised areas, borders, and minefields) can inadvertently create areas of relative safety for wolves, driving trophic cascades. His research will determine the spatial and temporal use of the landscape for wolves and other species using non-invasive sampling methods such as camera-trapping and track surveys and behavioural experiments to assess fear in these species across a range of risk levels.
By assessing predator behaviour and their influence on other species in regions where human pressures differ, Gavin’s research reveals how human activity can hinder the functional roles of wolves and highlights the ecological importance of apex predators.
Erick Lundgren - Addressing the conservation paradox
Are all introduced species causing harm to their new environments? Erick Lundgren is looking into the evolution of distinct introduced populations and how they contribute to changing global biodiversity. His research reports on the previously ignored keystone behavior of wild donkeys in the Sonoran Desert. By digging wells that provide nearly every vertebrate species in the area with access to groundwater, they provide an important ecological contribution that has been overlooked in numerous studies documenting their perceived harms.
With more than 350 diverse species now undergoing evolution in their new communities and in many cases contributing ecological functions, Erick aims to shed light on the human-dominated yet still wild nature of the Anthroposcene.
Eamonn Wooster - Viewing predators through an ecological lens
Native to Israel and North America, red foxes in Australia have been studied under the paradigm of pest control. The past four decades of conservation efforts in Australia have focused on suppressing these non-native mesopredators in order to protect other endangered native species, which in recent years has been deemed unsuccessful.
Eamonn Wooster takes a different approach to conservation by investigating the functional role of the red fox from a behavioral perspective. The research compares the ecological context and behavioral responses of individual foxes using camera traps to observe the behavior of foxes and their prey both inside and outside of their native ranges.
Eamonn’s research presents a new perspective on the ecology of the red fox in Australia that destigmatises this heavily persecuted and oppressed species.
Esty Yanco - Coexistence in food production landscapes
Unsustainable farming practices cause harm to wildlife that cannot be repaired with “band-aid” solutions. Wildlife friendly farming, on the other hand, is a relatively new but rapidly growing practice that has the potential to improve not only the health of wildlife, but also the health of farmers, consumers, and agricultural landscapes.
Esty Yanco is studying the effects of wildlife friendly farming by comparing the population trajectories, demography and welfare of resident wildlife in pastoral lands under various management conditions. In particular, Esty is examining the contribution of kangaroos to the total stress on plant populations in Australia due to animal grazing.
The research will contribute to the science that supports this farming method as the way forward to protect our planet, our animals and provide for the needs of a growing human population.