PhD (University of Queensland)
Position: ARC Future Fellow

Room: 338 Goddard Building 8
Phone: +61 7 3346 9004


Research Interests

We study 1) Ecology and life history evolution of carnivorous marsupials and other mammals, especially in tropical Australia and Melanesia. 2) Causes and detectability of extinction and decline: mechanisms and biological predisposition to threats. 3) Conservation ecology of threatened and declining macropods, flying foxes and dasyurids. 4) Behavioural ecology of marsupials: sexual selection, mating systems, social organisation and maternal care strategies. Current field study organisms include the subtropical antechinus, kultarr, kaluta, northern quoll, bridled nailtail wallaby, New Georgia monkey-faced bat and other Solomons flying foxes, as well as dingoes and feral predators, little fire ants and Solomon Islands invertebrates, and invertebrate prey of Australian dasyurids.

Current projects:

  • Historical ecology of extinction in Australian mammals (Diana Fisher)

  • Causes of tropical Australian mammal decline (Diana Fisher)

  • Evolution of male semelparity in insectivorous marsupials (Diana Fisher)

  • Roles of life history and food supply in the extinction of carnivorous marsupials: conservation ecology of the northern quoll in the Pilbara (Diana Fisher and Lorna Hernandez, PhD student)

  • Ecology and life history evolution of the kaluta- a Pilbara endemic dasyurid with male semelparity, in relation to fire succession of spinifex (Genevieve Hayes, PhD student)

  • Spatial and phylogenetic components of extinction risk in mammals (Luis Verde, PhD student)

  • Ecological and agricultural impacts of invasive little fire ants in the Solomon Islands (John Fasi, PhD student)

  • Sex allocation and evolution of matrilineal family structure in subtropical antechinuses (Daniela Parra, PhD student and Rebecca West, honours student)

  • Conservation ecology of the bridled nailtail wallaby (an endangered macropod occurring in only one natural population): effects of habitat change caused by invasive buffel grass (Kristin Donaldson, MSc student)

  • Conservation and ecology of Solomon Islands forest mammals: effects of recent logging on the New Georgia monkey-faced bat (Tyrone Lavery, postdoctoral researcher)

Recent projects:

  • Rediscovery of species presumed to be extinct, detectability of extinction, and estimating extinction rates (Diana Fisher)

  • Conservation ecology of the kultarr (a declining and poorly known dasyurid of the arid and semi-arid zone) (Peter Brice, collaborator / casual research assistant)

  • Conservation ecology of the bridled nailtail wallaby: molecular population estimation and evaluation of monitoring methods (Susan Nuske, honours student)

  • Conservation ecology of the bridled nailtail wallaby: habitat and food supply change associated with buffel grass invasion at Taunton and Idalia National Parks (Sally Green, honours student).

  • Diet and prey selectivity of the crest-tailed mulgara at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Kalamurina Sanctuary, testing a new sampling method (Rachael Collett, honours student)

  • Conservation ecology of the bridled nailtail wallaby: population estimation of a reintroduced population at Avocet Nature Refuge (Lisa Kingsley, Conservation Masters student)

  • Interactions between dingoes, feral cats and foxes in National Parks where bridled nailtail wallabies occur (Yiwei Wang, co-supervised PhD student)

  • Susceptibility of vertebrates in subtropical rainforest to climate change (Valerie Hagger, co-supervised Conservation Masters student)

Potential PhD projects 2012 - 2015:

  • Ecology and life history adaptation in the kaluta Dasykaluta rosamondae in the semi-arid Pilbara of Western Australia

  • Links between, climate / climate change and prey seasonal predictability, and implications for conservation of insectivorous vertebrates

Selected Publications

Fisher, D.O., Johnson, C.N., Lawes, M.J., Fritz, S.A., McCallum, H., Blomberg, S.P., VanDerWal, J., Abbott, B., Frank, A., Legge, S., Letnic, M., Thomas, C.R., Fisher, A., Gordon, I.J., and Kutt, A. (2013). The decline of tropical marsupials in Australia: is history repeating? Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Verde Arregoitia, L.D., Blomberg, S.P., and Fisher, D.O. (2013). Phylogenetic correlates of extinction risk in mammals: species in older lineages are not at greater risk. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.

Fisher, D.O.
and Blomberg, S.P. (2011). Correlates of rediscovery and the detectability of extinction in mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 278 (1708): 1090-1097.

Fisher, D.O., M.C. Double, S.P. Blomberg, M.D. Jennions and A. Cockburn. (2006). Post-mating sexual selection increases lifetime fitness of polyandrous females in the wild. Nature 444 (7115): 89-92.

Fisher, D.O. and Owens, I.P.F. (2004). The comparative method in conservation biology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 19: 391-398.

Funded Projects

The role of life history and food supply in the extinction of carnivorous marsupials in northern Australia
Grant Body: ARC (Future Fellowship)
Grant Period: 2011 - 2015

Conserving tropical lowland forest bats in the Solomon Islands
Grant Body: Australia Pacific Science Foundation and Lubee Bat Conservancy
Grant Period: 2013 - 2014

Understanding current mechanisms of extinction using population models for the northern quoll, Dasyurus hallucatus across tropical Australia
Grant Body: Australian Centre for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network
Grant Period: 2013

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