Bilbies and their burrows

Since 2014, our research group has been studying the greater bilby, a charismatic and population Australia marsupial. Bilbies excavate burrows in which they shelter during the day, before coming out at night to forage. These industrious animals dig multiple burrows, sometimes as many as 20, and use many of them at a time, swapping between…

A PhD in wildlife ecology – Part III: How to finish it

By Stuart Dawson The premiership quarter! Its not uncommon for people to feel that they wrote 80% of their thesis in the last 10% of the time. This is not a bad thing, often the penny only drops in these later stages, and you finally have the understanding to smash out the writing. But its…

A PhD in wildlife ecology – Part II: How to survive it

By Stuart Dawson You’ve got in the door, and the novelty has started to wear off. From the 6 months, to the 2-year mark, you can do a lot to set yourself up for success. Talk to people, they actually aren’t that scary Being familiar with the literature is fundamental to any scientific pursuit, but…

A PhD in wildlife ecology – Part I: Should I do it?

By Stuart Dawson A PhD in ecology can be a rewarding or regrettable experience. Enrolments in PhD programs are often more sought-after following downturns in the job market, and it seems likely that following COVID-19, lots of budding young wildlife biologists will use the times as an opportunity to return to uni to do a…

Tracking quokkas through fires

By Leticia Povh. Most Western Australians know quokkas from their travels to Rottnest Island.  Fewer of us are lucky enough to have been introduced to quokkas on the mainland, where quokkas are restricted to a small number of scattered populations. These populations face threats, including reduction of habitat, decreasing rainfall, competition with feral species, and…

Australian diggers – strong-arm excavators and aerators of Australian landscapes

By Meg Martin. Digging marsupials play an especially important ecological role in Australian ecosystems by helping with soil turnover, nutrient mixing, seed dispersal and increasing breakdown of organic materials. Many of these species are highly specialised diggers – with strong forlimbs and long claws. Historically, the interactions between bones and muscle during behaviour has been…

A Rubbish Diet

By Heather Crawford, Mike Calver and Trish Fleming.  Domestic cats (Felis catus) are one of the most widely distributed and successful carnivores globally. In cities, unowned cats (‘stray’) live in close association with human habitations and can roam across neighbourhoods, commercial areas, parks and bush reserves, hunting wildlife and scavenging food where they can find…

Give an Easter Bilby, because they give back!

By Stuart Dawson.  Easter is upon us, the holy grail of long weekends (especially when so close to ANZAC Day). Every year in Australia we celebrate this time with chocolate bunnies, inadvertently popularising an invasive and destructive species, the European Rabbit. The reason we use rabbits appears to be due to their famously fecund nature,…

Second-hand foraging: endangered red-tails feed research red-caps

Lauren Gilson.  For three months I have been measuring the evaporative water loss of Red-capped parrots and Western Rosellas.  Residents of the mesic (moist climate) habitats around Perth, these species are providing data for a larger exploration of water balance in Australian vertebrates. First I had to catch the birds, which was not easy in…

Can we save flatback turtle nests from foxes?

By John-Michael Stuart.  Murdoch University is part of a joint effort in the State’s north-west to save a population of vulnerable flatback turtles from predation by foxes (see story). Along with Curtin University and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA), we have been working with the pastoralist of the remote Mundabullangana Station.  Mundabullangana…

Procrastibaking – 2018 Bake your thesis competition

By John-Michael Stuart, Janine Kuehs and Natasha Tay. So we are not going to sugar-coat it, anyone who has done a PhD will tell you it is always an ongoing challenge to avoid the temptation to procrastinate and stay on track with your research. Especially this time of year when research fatigue sets in and…