I describe myself as an applied ecologist with an addiction to herpetology. I’ve been fascinated by reptiles and amphibians since I was a boy, and the obsession shows no signs of abating. More broadly, I’m interested in where species live and why, and what that can tell us about how to conserve them. Much of my research focuses on the spatial and temporal dynamics of populations in fragmented landscapes. It seeks insights into demographic processes, particularly for threatened taxa, to guide conservation planning. But I dabble in pure ecology and methodological projects, with some natural history thrown in for good measure.
- Environmental drivers of disease dynamics in frogs: Beginning with a paper in 2014, I continue to work on the effects of wetland microclimate and water chemistry on the impact of chytridiomycosis among threatened frogs (see here) and the potential of such relationships to inform manage options for the disease (see here). Current research in this area is focused on quantifying the effects of elevation and canopy cover on chytrid prevalence and frog persistence in the rainforests of North Queensland, in collaboration with Dr Sara Bell of the Australian Institute for Marine Sciences, and Drs Lee Skerratt and Lee Berger of James Cook University.
- Range, niche and demographic shifts in frogs afflicted by disease: Chytridiomycosis in amphibians provides a case study of the ability of biotic agents to alter the distribution, realised niche and demography of species. In collaboration with Dr Ben Scheele of the Australian National University, I am currently pursuing research on these processes among Australian frogs, using data on frog distributions and age structure before and after chytrid invaded Australia’s east coast.
- Metapopulation and metacommunity dynamics of frogs: In collaboration with Dr Michael Scroggie (ARI) and A/Prof Kirsten Parris and Prof Michael McCarthy (University of Melbourne), I continue research on the metapopulation and metacommunity dynamics of frogs in Victoria, using a long-term occupancy dataset amassed since 2001. Our particular focus has been the threatened Growling Grass Frog; however, current works seeks to use joint species distribution models to describe the occupancy dynamics of the entire frog community.