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Academics    Postdocs, Researchers & Staff   Students    Visitors    Past Members  




Professor Hugh Possingham

Hugh is a joint Professor between the Departments of Zoology & Entomology, and Mathematics at The University of Queensland. He is the Director of The Ecology Centre. From 2003-2007 Hugh is an ARC Professorial Research Fellow. In 2006 became director of AEDA. His research interests include:

conservation planning/reserve design
• population dynamics and ecological theory
• decision theory for conservation biology and monitoring
• bird ecology


Hugh Possingham

Postdocs & researchers

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Dr Maria Beger

Maria's research areas include coral reef conservation; species distribution modelling; marine conservation planning; conservation of rare species; coral reef monitoring; reef fish biodiversity (assessments, patterns, biogeography)



My research interests are in systematic conservation planning, decision support systems, and geographical information systems. More specifically, I am interested in developing novel ways of incorporating socioeconomic data along with biophysical data into systematic conservation planning and reserve design efforts. 

Carissa Klein

Eve McDonald-Madden

I am interested in the idea of integrating optimal monitoring strategies into a decision theory approach for wildlife management. In particular, I am interested in the use of this framework for evaluating the ecological and economic costs and benefits of pest animal control and harvesting.


Dr Robert (Bob) Sutherst

Synoptic modelling of biological responses to climate change

Climate change endangers endemic species with narrow climatic needs and helps pests with wide tolerances. The twin risk assessment tools - CLIMEX and DYMEX – define these risks on geographical and field scales.  They are rated as world leaders and underpin Biosecurity programs in many countries. I am currently focused on improving the Biodiversity community’s risk assessment methods for beneficial species.

Full Research Summary


Dr Eric Treml

World Wildlife Fund Fuller Fellow (2007 – 2009). Eric’s research is focused on the spatial ecology of coral reefs, testing hypotheses regarding marine population connectivity (dispersal corridors and barriers), and exploring the implications for marine reserve design and ecosystem-based management. This research integrates biophysical modeling, network/graph theory, and population genetic techniques. Additional details can be found at:


Support & research staff


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Melisa Lewins, Executive Assistant

Melisa is Hugh Possingham's Executive Assistant.  Please contact her directly to make an appointment with Hugh.

P: +61 7 3365 2527
F: +61 7 3365 1655


Heather Christensen, Office Manager

P: +61 7 3346 7541
F: +61 7 3365 1655



Matt Watts

My research interests are in systematic conservation planning, decision support systems, geographical information systems, systems analysis and design, and computer programming. I wrote the C-Plan decision support system, and am now modifying the Marxan software to incorporate multiple zoning and costs.


Matthew Watts

Postgraduate students



Madeleine Bottrill

I am interested in systematic conservation planning; conservation resource allocation; and the integration of socio-economic factors into decision-making. My current research focuses on evaluating effectiveness of conservation plans and strategies for facilitating implementation of plans. 
 Madeleine Bottrill

Chris J. Brown

I am working on integrating climate and marine ecosystem models to predict climate change impacts on marine ecosystems. I study jointly with the Spatial Ecology Lab and CSIRO's Climate Adaptation Flagship.


photo of Chris J. Brown


Adam Dinsdale

My current interest is testing genetic relatedness of invasive insect pest populations from Australia, over small and large scale geographic areas. In doing so I aim to model the factors influencing any genetic dispersal and predict population movement.

John Dwyer

My PhD focuses on the population ecology of regrowth brigalow (Acacia harpophylla), a long-lived, clonal Acacia from QLD and NSW which has been dramatically over-cleared for agricultural development during the past 60-100 years.


John Dwyer


Hedley Grantham

I am interested in adaptive and dynamic decision-frameworks  for conservation planning. This includes being adaptable in terms of where and how conservation is applied, the costs and benefits of investing in different data to reduce uncertainty and methods of planning that incorporate the spatial and temporal dynamics of biodiversity and humans.


Takuya Iwamura

My interests lie in global conservation planning, dynamic conservation planning, biodiversity cost-benefit analysis, and resource allocation under a changing climate. I am currently working on global conservation site privatization with consideration of climate change.



Ms Rocio Ponce-Reyes

I am interested in the integration of evolutionary process, primarily speciation, into systematic conservation planning. My PhD will combine genetic data with land use dynamics and climate change to set conservation priorities that efficiently conserve biological diversity in the highly fragmented tropical montane cloud forests of Mexico.


Lucy Robinson

My research is focused on modeling the impacts of future climate change on the distribution of a variety of marine fish species. I aim to quantifying some sources of uncertainty in model projections to see how this might influence industry and conservation management decisions.



Patricia Sutcliffe


Oscar Venter

I am broadly interested in conservation decision making, trading-off multiple conservation objectives, the conservation potential of ecosystem services, threats to endangered species and conservation effectiveness. Currently, I am working at the local and global scales to determine how initiatives to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation can be used to protect forest biodiversity.

Email: P: + 61 7 3365 1586

Jessie Wells

My research interests include: Plant ecological strategies and Inter-relations of leaf/stem/seed attributes; Secondary rainforest regeneration: diversity and representation of species and ecological attributes; Application of Likelihood and Bayesian statistical methods; Inference on plant interactions and processes of regeneration from spatio-temporal patterns.


Alice Yeates

My postgraduate research focuses on the response of plant communities to disturbance associated with invasive species management. I am currently working with three invasive species, Lantana camara (lantana), Phyla canescens (lippia) and Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife).



Past SEL members

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Vanessa Adams was a Fullbright Scholar and stayed with us for one (incredibly productive) year in 2004-2005, when she worked on ecosystem-based management, amongst other things.

Henrik Andren from Grimsö Wildlife Research Station at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, stayed with us for 6 months on sabbatical in 2002-2003, and again at the end of 2005.

Peter Baxter joined us via ARCUE and the School of Botany at the University of Melbourne as a Post Doctoral Fellow after completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. The overarching theme of his research is the use of mathematical models to confront issues in conservation.

Steve Beissinger, from the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management at the University of California at Berkeley, visited us for 5 months on sabbatical in 2006.

Gillian Benson honours project, completed with us in 2005, investigated the importance of landscape context and habitat quality on the occurence of nocturnal birds and arboreal mammals in southeast Brisbane.

Chad L. Buxton did honours with us in 2005. His project focused on using MARXAN to optimally rezone Moreton Bay using biological and social/economic data layers.

Ben Cairns completed his PhD with us and maths in 2005. His thesis was on probability theory with applications in the biological sciences, in particular continuous-time Markov chain models.he is now doing a post-doc at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol in the UK.

Josie Carwardine researched the integration of multiple objectives into a framework for making economically and environmentally sustainable management decisions in terrestrial and freshwater systems.

Iadine Chadès  is a computer scientist researcher in Artificial Intelligence at INRA Toulouse, and visited SEL for a year. Her interest is in the use of decision theory in ecological problems. In particular stochastic dynamic programming and Multiagent modelling. including the use of Markov Decision Processes to solve complex problems with spatial dependence or multiple actors 

Andres Etter finished his PhD in 2006, working on the pattern and process of tropical forest clearing in Colombia, using a variety of statistical and spatial models, applying GIS and remote sensing technology, to assess threats to biodiversity and prioritize conservation planning. He has now returned to the Universidad Javeriana, in Bogotá, Colombia.

Scott Field was a post-doc with us for several years, based in Adelaide, and remains a collaborator with several former and current lab members.

Jennifer Firns research involved unravelling the combination of mechanisms that explain the dominance of an invasive grass species Eragrostis curvula (African Lovegrass), including: disturbance, interspecies competition and responses to abiotic stress.

Cindy Hauser finished her PhD here in 2006 on the use of decision theory in wildlife management. She used this framework to develop optimal monitoring and harvest strategies for species such as red kangaroos and Canada geese. She has started a post-doc with Mick McCarthy at Melbourne Uni.

Liana Joseph researched the generation of guidelines to monitor threatened species optimally by simultaneously considering the power to detect declines and the cost of different sampling techniques.

Niclas Jonzen stayed with us for a year in 2003, and has now returned to the Department of Theoretical Ecology at University of Lund, Sweden.

Lindsay Kircher researched systematic conservation planning, decision support systems, and reserve design.  I am also interested in the process of communication between the academic world and natural resource managers.

Simon Linke has a background in limnology and environmental statistics, with a main interest is in systematic conservation planning in freshwater systems. Simon worked on adaptations of terrestrial and marine conservation planning techniques to a spatial framework suited for the connected nature of rivers.

Tara Martin completed her PhD in 2005 and is now working at UBC in Vancouver. Her PhD examined the power of predictive models to forecast impacts of livestock grazing on Australian woodland birds. Through this work she developed novel ways of eliciting and incorporating expert knowledge into ecological modes using Bayesian methods as well as methods to analyse zero-inflated datasets. Her current work involves examining the power of expert knowledge in ecological models, formulation of trade-offs in multi-objective conservation planning and assessment of critical habitat for species at risk.

Marissa McBride did her honours with us in 2005 working on conservation planning and conservation resource allocation. She has since commenced her PhD at the Environmental Science Research group at the University of Melbourne.

Hamish McCallum is a mathematical ecologist. He was a academic with the centre for some years. His interests lie in the ecology of interactions between pathogens, parasites and predators and their hosts or victims, and in conservation biology. He uses models to address these questions, and recently concentrated on the problem of parameter estimation, which is essential to connect models with the real world.

Norbert Menke developed spatially explicit kangaroo population models using longterm aerial survey data and vegetation greenness satellite data. He now works at the Dept. of Science, Information Technology, Innovation & the Arts (DSITIA).  He is working with the Queensland State Government, and his spatio-temporal population viability models are used to test the sustainability of water resource plans.

Aedina Merenlender, from UC Berkeley, was with us for a sabbatical year in 2004

E. J. Milner-Gulland visited us for a year on sabbatical in 2003, and has now returned to Imperial College, London. She works on he interactions between the population dynamics of exploited species of large mammals and the incentives of people who hunt them. She uses models to explore these interaction and to develop policy recommendations for the conservation and management of these species.

Kris Murray throughout his PhD, researched host-parasite interactions, disease ecology, and the management of wildlife diseases for conservation. Also addressing the ecology of chytridiomycosis, an infectious disease implicated with global amphibian declines and extinctions

Justine Murray studied conservation and management of threatened species in their current natural environment. Research included spatial scale dynamics and species distribution modelling, with the focal species being the brush-tailed rock-wallaby in the northern part of their diminishing range.

Emmanuel S. Natalio worked with us in 2005 on improved management of a functional group of unpalatable grass weeds through mathematical, ecological and management modelling.

Sam Nicols PhD focus was on solving optimal landscape reconstruction problems for metapopulation management. 

Emily Nicholson finished her PhD here in 2006, working on conservation planning for the persistence of multiple species. After a year as a post-doc at Princeton University, she is now at Imperial College London.

Karin Perhans My research interests include the trade-off between different kinds of information and the implementation of conservation actions, and the cost-effectiveness of small-scale conservation actions in managed boreal forests. I also work on conservation planning questions within a research initiative assessing the vulnerability and adaptation capacity of South East Queensland to the effects of climate change.

Tony Pople was a post-doc with us for several years, working on population ecology, in particualr wildlife management in Australia’s semi-arid zone, including kangaroo harvesting, control of vertebrate pests and the diagnosis and treatment of population declines. He is now working with the Department of Primary Industries.

Bob Pressey was a visiting scholar. His primary research area is systematic conservation planning. Over the past two decades he has developed many of the fundamental principles of the discipline. He is now at James Cook University.
Satu Ramula worked on plant population dynamics and demographic models, aswell as examining general management guidelines for invasive plant species and the role of density dependence in invasive plant populations.

Tracey Regan did a two-year post-doc here working on weed management, and is now working at at NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California with Barbara Taylor.

Jonathan Rhodes finished his PhD with us in 2005, and is now working at CSIRO Marine in Hobart, Tasmania. His thesis was on applying spatial population models to the design of management and monitoring strategies for threatened species using the koala as a case study; Modelling species’ movement and habitat selection processes; Incorporating uncertainty and observation error into ecological models and decision making processes.

Karen Richardson has recently returned to Canada to work at McGill university.

Elizabeth Richardson from the Coastal Resource Ecology And Management Group, at the University of Wales, Bangor, stayed with us from January to April 2005. Her research focuses on the biological, social and economic consequences of different inshore fishery management regimes in Wales.

Wayne A Rochesternow works for CSIRO marine research division.

Joshua Ross.  
My research is in the area of mathematical ecology, in particular the stochastic modelling of population dynamics. Current research interests include metapopulation dynamics and the management of controlled populations.

Tracy Rout did her honours with us in 2005, working on optimal captive breeding/release programmes. She is now doing her PhD with the Environmental Science Research group at the University of Melbourne focusing on the optimal monitoring and management of populations, including optimal adaptive management.

Dan Segan joined the ecology centre as a conservation planning research assistant in October of 2007. His research focused on spatial prioritization within the systematic conservation planning process.

Whendee Silver visited us on sabatical from UC Berkeley on 2006.

Nikki Sims main area of interest was invasive species ecology and management. Nikki worked on evaluating the biological control, which began about 40 years ago, of the Australian weed Groundsel Bush (Baccharis halimifolia).

Tom Sisk stayed with us for a year in 2002-2003, and has now gone back home to the Center for Environmental Sciences and Education at Northern Arizona University.

Danielle Shanahan completed her PhD with us, which focussed on population dynamics of forest bird species in fragmented and developing landscapes of South East Queensland. 

Regina Souter was a visiting Scholar with UQ.  Her research projects included; making coastal and marine conservation planning more effective at protecting biodiversity.  Also identifying and incorporating the ecological processes that drive biodiversity into conservation planning.  Regina was also involved in a review project that identified the key ecological processes driving biodiversity in an effort to provide a framework for their consideration in conservation management. With experiences working at universities and research centres/organisations (e.g. Coastal CRC, CSIRO), government (Qld EPA, local gov) and as a consultant (with Commonwealth Gov, Regional NRM Bodies).

Romola Stewart decision support system (DSS) for integrated natural resource management at the land-ocean interface. The project will develop and trial a systematic approach to decision-making for biodiversity conservation and sustainable natural resource management. Its focus will be on complex planning issues involving socio-economic and conservation trade-offs, and will help set on-ground priorities for improved management of coastal lands, estuaries and shallow (continental shelf) marine waters. Collaborators include: University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research

Judit Szabo completed her Master’s degree in Theoretical Ecology in 1999, a PhD in Environmental Toxicology in 2005, and a year of postdoctoral research at the University of Wollongong with the Plains wanderer, I joined the Spatial Ecology Lab. At present, my main research focus is optimal monitoring of birds. By analysing and comparing different bird data bases, I am looking for trends in species abundances and ways to correct for biased surveys.

Brigitte Tenhumberg is now at University of Nebraska Lincoln, USA.

Drew Tyre was a post-doc with us working on optimal monitoring, and is now at University of Nebraska Lincoln, USA.

Michael Ian Westphal completed his PhD with us in 2003, through UC Berkeley. His thesis was entitled "Metapopulation Modeling and Optimal Habitat Reconstruction for Birds in the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia". After a stint as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow in the Office of International Affairs in the US Environmental Protection Agency, Michael is in the Climate Change team of the World Bank, working on climate change vulnerability and adaptation issues (

Chris Wilcox recently left us to go to great job at CSIRO Marine in Hobart, Tasmania. He was a post doc at SEL for over 2 years, from late 2002 to January 2005. See his old UQ webpage for his research interests until he sets up a new one at CSIRO.

Severine Vuilleumier was with us for a year in 2004-2005 as a post-doc, and now has a job in Switzerland. Her research interests include: Spatially explicit metapopulation modelling, including species' dispersal abilities, behaviour and patterns; metapopulation genetics, gene flow, genetic distances and differentiation among populations; Ecological networks, fragmented landscape, conservation ecology; and individual-based model.

Hiroyuki Yokomizo is a theoretical biologist, who worked at CSIRO and at the Spatial Ecology Lab (SEL) until March 2010. I'm interested in the establishment of basic theory of optimal management strategies and application of theoretical studies to actual wild populations. I am working on optimal weed management, optimal design of reserves, and optimal monitoring strategy.

Flavio Zanini, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne -EPFL (Ecosystem Management Laboratory-GECOS) and affiliated to The Swiss Federal Research Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape (WSL), stayed with us for three months from November 2004 to January 2005. he was working on selecting suitable area for rehabilitation and biodiversity conservation in human dominated landscape using historical map and modelling focal species distribution. 

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