wee croc

Dr Ross Dwyer

Post-doctoral research fellow


    2010 Doctor of Philosophy, Ecology,  University of Exeter (UK)

    2005 Master of Research, Environmental Biology, University of St Andrews (UK)

    2004 Bachelor of Science (Hons), Zoology, University of Dundee (UK)



    Email: ross.dwyer@uq.edu.au

    Phone: +61 7 3365 1390

    School of Biological Sciences

    The University of Queensland

    St. Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia

Research interests

Understanding the way animals interact with their environment is vital for their conservation and management. My research focuses on both fundamental and applied aspects of ecology, including habitat use, foraging behaviour and human-wildlife spatial conflict.
Using survey and tracking methodologies, my research investigates the drivers of movements, space use and community structure in free-ranging animals. This has included conducting population surveys (by land, boat and aircraft) to provide spatial and temporal information on animal presence, densities and behaviour. My research has included fieldwork conducted in rainforests, grasslands, rivers, subtidal and intertidal habitats, coral reefs and on offshore islands. I work closely with local government, NGOs and industry partners to ensure the data gathered are used to achieve positive conservation outcomes and/or improve species management.

I have utilised a number of electronic tagging techniques (i.e. VHF radio, GPS and ARGOS satellite telemetry, light-based geolocators (GLS) and underwater acoustic transmitters) to track animals within their natural environment. These data are used to characterise patterns of animal movement across a broad range of taxa, to answer questions regarding the principle drivers of animal behaviour and species distributions. My study animals have included seals, whales, kangaroos, shorebirds, seabirds, cassowaries, turtles, crocodiles, sharks and bony fish.
I am currently overseeing an Australian Research Council Linkage Project investigating the movement patterns of large riverine predators (e.g. estuarine crocodiles, river sharks, sawfish, freshwater rays and barramundi) in Northern Queensland.

Software development

I am part of a team developing the online analysis toolbox ZoaTrack.org (formally OzTrack.org). This eResearch infrastructure aims to centralise the steps common when processing of wildlife location data (i.e. archiving, visualisation, analysis and dissemination), into a free and easy-to-use web platform. For more information about ZoaTrack or to keep up to date with newest improvements, visit our website or check out our blog.


I have also developed two open source packages in R to assist researchers with the analysis of their individual-based movement data: VTrack and Digiroo2.


V-Track is collaboration between researchers in the Eco-Lab and Applied Environmental Decision Analysis (AEDA) group to facilitate users in gaining insights into animal movements and diving behaviour gathered using underwater acoustic receivers.VTrack v1.11 is now available on the CRAN package repository. For more information, read our publication in Marine and Freshwater Research.


Digiroo2 was developed with researchers in the Behavioural Ecology Research Group (BERG) at the University of Queensland. This software was designed to be used in parallel with the SOCPROG 2.4 program by simulating association events based on an individual’s space-use to test hypotheses regarding animal social structure, whilst controlling for home range overlap. Digiroo2 v0.6 is also available on CRAN. Read our publication in Animal Behaviour which uses Digiroo2 to investigate the influence of space use on association patterns in a wild population of eastern grey kangaroos.


I also maintain the Crocodile Tracks website, which displays the most recent locations of our GPS-tagged estuarine crocodiles in Cape York, Queensland, Australia. The interactive maps were built in R using the Leaflet open source JavaScript library.


For more information on any of these software applications, email me at ross.dwyer@uq.edu.au.


Teaching materials


R for movement ecologists

This course was run as part of a movement ecology workshop at James Cook University (JCU) in 2016. Featured in this course is a basic introduction to the R programming language (using R Studio), advice on data management and how to utilise the spatial tools within the R environment. Using real tracking data from translocated southern cassowaries (sourced from ZoaTrack.org), the course materials will show how to plot and animate animal tracks in R and Google Earth, extract distances travelled and generate home ranges using the adehabitatHR R package..  


Introduction to R

This course was run at the School of Geography Planning and Environmental Management (GPEM) at the University of Queensland in 2016. This course was developed as an introduction to the R programming language and R Studio. Using data sourced from the Global Shark Attack File, the course materials will show how to do some basic data wrangling steps in R, run basic GIS operations in R and plot some deadly figures using ggplot2.  


V-Track, R and the Analysis and Visualisation of Animal Telemetry Data

This course was run at the Sydney Institute of Marine Sciences in 2014. The workshop focused on the steps involved in processing, analysing and plotting acousic tracking data from fish and sharks using the R programming language and the V-Track R package.  



Dwyer, R. G., Carpenter-Bundhoo, L.,  Franklin, C. E. & Campbell, H. A. (In Press). Using citizen-collected wildlife sightings to predict traffic strike hotspots for threatened species: A case study on the southern cassowary Casuarius c. johnsonii. Journal of Applied Ecology


Dwyer, R. G., Brooking, C., Brimblecombe, W., Campbell, H. A., Hunter, J., Watts, M. & Franklin, C. E. (2015). An open Web-based system for the analysis and sharing of animal tracking data. Animal Biotelemetry, 3(1), 1-11.


Campbell, H.A., Dwyer, R.G., Wilson, H., Irwin, T., & Franklin, C.E. (2015). Predicting the probability of large carnivore occurrence: a strategy to promote crocodile and human coexistence. Animal Conservation, 18(4), 387-395.


Campbell, H. A., Beyer, H. L., Dennis, T. E., Dwyer, R. G., Forester, J. D., Fukuda, Y. et al. (2015). Finding our way: On the sharing and reuse of animal telemetry data in Australasia. Science of the Total Environment, 534, 79-84.


Hanson, J. O., Salisbury, S. W., Campbell, H. A., Dwyer, R. G., Jardine, T. D. & Franklin, C. E. (2015). Feeding across the food web: The interaction between diet, movement and body size in estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). Austral Ecology, 40(3), 275-286.


Dwyer, R. G., Campbell, H. A., Irwin, T., & Franklin, C. E. (2014). Does the telemetry technology matter? Comparing estimates of aquatic animal space-use generated from GPS-based and passive acoustic tracking. Marine and Freshwater Research.


Best, E. C., Dwyer, R. G., Seddon, J. M., & Goldizen, A. W. (2014). Associations are more strongly correlated with space use than kinship in female eastern grey kangaroos. Animal Behaviour, 89, 1-10.


Campbell, H.A., Dwyer, R.G., Sullivan, S., Mead, D., & Lauridsen, G. (2014). Chemical immobilisation and satellite tagging of freeā€living southern cassowaries. Australian Veterinary Journal, 92(7), 240-245.


Dwyer, R. G., Bearhop, S., Campbell, H. A., & Bryant, D. M. (2013). Shedding light on light: benefits of anthropogenic illumination to a nocturnally foraging shorebird. Journal of Animal Ecology, 82(2), 478-485.


Wakefield, E. D., Bodey, T. W., Bearhop, S., Blackburn, J., Colhoun, K., Davies, R., Dwyer, R.G. et al. (2013). Space partitioning without territoriality in gannets. Science, 341(6141), 68-70.


Campbell, H. A., Dwyer, R. G., Irwin, T. R., & Franklin, C. E. (2013). Home range utilisation and long-range movement of estuarine crocodiles during the breeding and nesting season. PLoS ONE, 8(5), e62127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062127


Best, E. C., Seddon, J. M., Dwyer, R. G., & Goldizen, A. W. (2013). Social preference influences female community structure in a population of wild eastern grey kangaroos. Animal Behaviour, 86(5), 1031-1040.


Campbell, H. A., Sissa, O., Dwyer, R. G., & Franklin, C. E. (2013). Hatchling crocodiles maintain a plateau of thermal independence for activity, but at what cost? Journal of Herpetology, 47(1), 11-14. doi: 10.1670/11-160


Micheli-Campbell, M. A., Campbell, H. A., Connell, M., Dwyer, R. G., & Franklin, C. E. (2013). Integrating telemetry with a predictive model to assess habitat preferences and juvenile survival in an endangered freshwater turtle. Freshwater Biology, 58(11), 2253-2263. doi: 10.1111/Fwb.12206


Campbell, H. A., Watts, M. E., Dwyer, R. G., & Franklin, C. E. (2012). V-Track: software for analysing and visualising animal movement from acoustic telemetry detections. Marine and Freshwater Research, 63(9), 815-820. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12194


Campbell, H. A., Dwyer, R. G., Fitzgibbons, S., Klein, C. J., Lauridsen, G., McKeown, A.,  et al.(2012). Prioritising the protection of habitat utilised by southern cassowaries Casuarius casuarius johnsonii. Endangered Species Research, 17(1), 53-61.


Campbell, H. A., Dwyer, R. G., Gordos, M., & Franklin, C. E. (2010). Diving through the thermal window: implications for a warming world. Proceedings of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences, 277(1701), 3837-3844. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0902


Published Conference Proceedings

Hunter, J., Brooking, C., Brimblecombe, W., Dwyer, R. G., Campbell, H. A., Watts, M. E., & Franklin, C. E. (2013, 22-25 Oct. 2013). OzTrack -- e-Infrastructure to support the management, analysis and sharing of animal tracking data. Paper presented at the 9th IEEE International Conference on eScience Beijing.


S. M. Guru, Dwyer, R.G., Watts, M.E. Dinh, M.N., Abramson, D., Nguyen, H.N., Campbell, H.A., Franklin, C.E., Clancy, T., Possingham, H.P., (2015) A reusable scientific workflow for conservation planning. Proceedings of the 21st International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand.


Associated Articles


Beger, M., & Dwyer, R. G. (2015) Telemetry and better decision making. Decision Point. Research Briefs, 14.


Campbell, H.A. and Dwyer, R.G. (2013). Controlling crocs means knowing who’s boss. The Conversation


Night light helps shorebird. Research highlights. Nature 492, 11 (2010)  doi: 10.1038/492011d


All bright now: How waders benefit from light pollution. Discovery of the month. (February 2013). BBC Wildlife Magazine. Vol. 31 (2) 41.



Invited Guest Speaker (2016). Steve Irwin Memorial Lecture. World Science Festival, Brisbane.


Endeavour Research Award (2011). Australian Government Postgraduate Scholarship.


Best Student Presentation (2010). 'The importance to light to a nocturnally feeding common redshank'. International Wader Study Group Annual Conference. Lisbon Portugal.


Development Scholarship (2005). Scottish International Education Trust.



Dwyer, R.G. & Franklin, C.E. (2015). Scientific review of SEQ Water's passive acoustic data for Australian Bass, Sea Mullet and Freshwater Mullet in the Logan River System. Report for SEQ Water


Dwyer, R.G. & Franklin, C.E. (2014). Scientific review of SEQ Water's passive acoustic data for Australian Bass and Sea Mullet in the Logan River System. Report for SEQ Water


Campbell, H.A., Dwyer, R.G. & Franklin, C.E. (2013). Scientific review of SEQ Water's passive acoustic data for the Australian lungfish in Lake Samsonvale. Report for SEQ Water


Dwyer, R.G., Campbell H.A. & Franklin, C.E. (2012). Scientific review of the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection’s estuarine crocodile abundance and distribution data and methodology. Queensland Government Report