Current university-based (RMIT and/or Uni Melbourne) projects

Understanding supply chains to promote the biodiversity benefits of wildlife-friendly coffee
Collaborators: Sarah Bekessy, Matthew Selinske, Dale Wright, Georgia Garrard, Yoshihisa Kashima, Emily McLeod, Amanada Rodewald, Ruth Bennett, Kirstin Hill, Fiona Fidler

Coffee farm. Image: Frank_am_Main CC BY-SA 2.0

Coffee is grown in some of the world’s most biodiverse regions, and sustainable coffee production has the potential to provide positive outcomes for both conservation and livelihoods. However, rapidly increasing demand for coffee and climate-induced changes in the distribution of places where it can be grown is causing producers to shift from more wildlife-friendly heterogeneous shade-grown systems to full-sun monoculture. This project seeks to understand  and improve  interventions that are being implemented across the coffee supply chain, from the producers, to traders, to roasters, to retailers, and finally the coffee consumers themselves, to effectively promote wildlife-friendly shade grown coffee. This project is a partnership between researchers from across RMIT University, the University of Melbourne, and Cornell University, as well as industry partners Zoos Victoria, Genovese Coffee and the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly Coffee team.  


Mitigating tensions around new and established urban flying-fox roosts
Collaborators: Brendan Wintle, Kathryn Williams, Justin Welbergen, Dave Kendal, Rod van der Ree, David Westcott, Kylie Soanes

Grey-headed flying-foxes. Image: By Optimusprimetransformer CC BY-SA 4.0

This ARC Linkage project aims to address the issues surrounding flying-fox roosts in Australia’s towns and cities. Flying-foxes are nationally protected and highly mobile mammals that are pivotal to Australia’s forest ecosystems, and continue to be threatened by habitat loss, extreme weather, and persecution. They are now increasingly urban, and this causes community concern because they can be noisy, smelly, can damage vegetation and property, and are perceived to introduce risk of disease transmission. Management interventions to disperse roosts require sustained efforts, can cost millions of dollars, and typically either fail to move the bats along or force them into even more contentious areas. This project will draw together ecological and social analysis in a decision-theoretic framework to identify alternative management strategies to mitigate human-flying fox conflict.


Improving recognition and management of threatened species in urban areas 
Collaborators: Kylie Soanes, Caragh Threlfall, Karen Ikin, Georgia Garrard, Dave Kendal, Luis Mata, Leonie Valentine, Kirsten Parris, Sarah Bekessy

Koala and swift parrotThis project is jointly funded through the NESP Clean Air & Urban Landscapes, and Threatened Species Recovery Hubs. Previous work by our group has shown that approximately 30% of Australia’s threatened species occur in our cities and towns, but for the most part members of the public are not aware of this and interventions used to conserve these species in rural areas cannot be applied in urban settings. This project aims to improve our understanding of the distribution and ecology of these urban threatened species, as well as explore novel management options in recognition of the unique opportunities and challenges urban areas present to conservation.


Postgraduate students

  • Dale Wright, PhD current, Sustainable coffee agriculture for biodiversity conservation
  • Sandra Penman, PhD current, Future fire impacts on bat community diversity
  • Fiona Hoegh-Guldberg, PhD current, Better biodiversity outcomes from urban nature-based solutions
  • Arabella Eyre, MSc 2018, Surveys for Leadbeater’s Possum guided by species distribution models
  • Leo McComb, MSc 2018,  Thermal suitability of artificial hollows for Leadbeater’s Possum
  • Steve Griffiths, PhD 2018, Efficacy of substitute habitats for hollow-dependent fauna
  • Kaye Currey, MEnv 2017, Management approaches to urban flying-fox camps
  • Rebecca Sutherland, MEnv 2016, Remote estimation of bat box occupancy
  • Mauricio Mora, MEnv 2015, Population viability of South America’s most endangered deer
  • Tanja Straka, PhD 2015, Linking the needs of  bats and people at urban wetlands
  • Madeline Brenker, MSc 2014, Viability of mammals under different revegetation strategies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s