Jump to:    Current Reserach Projects    Previous Reserach Pojects    Supervision

My research interests are around interdisciplinary problems in conservation science. Most of my previous research has foucessed on developing quantitative and qualitative approaches for understanding the impacts of environmental policies and programs on biodiversity values in the landscape. As part of this I have undertaken extensive research on biodiversity offsetting, impact evaluation for conservation, conservation planning, spatial prioritization and private land conservation.

Current Reserach Projects

Identifying counterfactuals for quantifying the value of avoided loss

This project is working with NSW Biodiversity Conservation Trust (BCT). We are undertaking predictive spatial modelling and machine learning to predict where future clearing of woody vegetation will be likely occur. The motivation for this work is to be able to better estimate the losses that conservation interventions are avoiding (ie that gains they are delivering due to “avoided or averted losses”). We use the spatial modelling to determine how likely woody vegetation at a given site would have been cleared if hadn’t been protected (the “counterfactual”). The final goal is to be able to estimate the avoided loss generated by all of the BCT’s agreements that are protecting native woody vegetation on private land. The analysis will combine the predictive spatial modelling with statistical matching to determine both the avoided loss current agreements have generated to date, as well as estimates of the likely future avoided loss they will generate in the coming decade.

Systematic sensitivity analysis of components of the metrics in the Biodiversity Assessment Method

This project is working with the New South Wales Department of Planning Industry and Environment. It focuses on the the Biodiversity Assessment Method (BAM) which describes the methods and metrics used by the NSW Government for assessing current and future biodiversity values at development (impact) and potential biodiversity offset sites. The estimation of these values relies on calculation of current and future Vegetation Integrity, a surrogate for biodiversity based on plot-based assessment of the structure, composition and function of the vegetation.

The aim of the project is to provide an improved understanding of whether calculation of current and future Vegetation Integrity is operating as intended, that is it meets policy objectives (No Net Loss of biodiversity, robust and transparent), provides consistent and robust estimates, and reflects current ecological predictions. Part of the project will involve undertaking detailed sensitivity analysis of all inputs to and structure of the calculations that go into determining current and guture Vegetation Integrity.

Previous Research Projects

To come…


Current PhD students

Roshan Sharma, thesis topic: “Improving impact evaluation for conservation policies and interventions”.

Dale Wright, thesis topic: “Investigating the social-ecological sustainability of coffee”.

Florence Damiens, thesis topic: “Transnational discourses, policy practices and the production of natures: the case of biodiversity offset policies in France and Australia”.

Stephanie Wong, thesis topic: “TBC”.

Completed PhD students

Marco Gutiérrez, thesis topic: “Biodiversity and ecosystem services in strategic environmental assessment: evaluating outcomes, challenges, and opportunities” (completed 2022). Thesis available at https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9922177313301341.

Matthew Selinske, thesis topic: “Advancing the integration of human behaviour into biodiversity decision-making” (completed 2019). Thesis available at https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9921863851801341.

Vira Koshkina, thesis topic: “Stochastic ecological models for predicting species distribution and extinction” (completed 2019). Thesis available at https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9921864050001341

Mat Hardy, thesis topic: “A revolution in conservation funding: exploring the use of revolving funds to protect nature on private land” (completed 2017). Thesis available athttps://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9921864032701341

Alex Kusmanoff, thesis topic: “Framing the conservation conversation: an investigation into framing techniques for communicating biodiversity conservation” (completed in 2017). Thesis available at https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9921863894901341

Fatemeh Poodat, thesis topic: “Assessment of ecological connectivity for urban environments: A multispecies approach” (completed 2013). Thesis available at https://researchrepository.rmit.edu.au/esploro/outputs/9921861315601341

Past Masters, Honours and other students

Adam Dzunko, thesis topic: “Assessing Eastern Ground Parrot (Pezoporus wallicus wallicus) populations in the Marlo and Cape Conran area following the 2019/20 bushfires” (completed 2021). Masters thesis.

Cameron Beetham, thesis topic: “Citizen Science in Native Grasslands” (completed 2021). Undergraduate Thesis.

Anna O’Brien, thesis topic: “Critical review of assumptions of gains in biodiversity under Victorian offsetting policy” (completed 2020). Masters thesis. Thesis available at https://doi.org/10.31219/osf.io/nv4za

David Attard, thesis topic: “Evaluating Melbourne’s newest conservation areas for a set of threatened species using the Zonation Conservation Planning Tool” (completed 2013). Masters thesis.

Travis Ittensohn, thesis topic: “Measuring Biodiversity Impacts and Priorities in Relation to Urban Expansion at the National Scale” (completed 2017). Masters thesis.