Rowena Hamer (UTas) is winner of the 2016 Nature Conservancy Applied Conservation Scholarship Her project is titled 'Restoring resilience in wildlife populations: devils, quolls and feral cats in the Tasmanian Midlands'.
My PhD research aims to improve the effectiveness of habitat restoration for wildlife, using the Tasmanian Midlands region as a case study. Current restoration programs, though relatively effective in restoring vegetation cover, typically lack a detailed understanding of the habitat requirements of native fauna. My research will focus on the ecology and management of threatened native marsupial carnivores (the Tasmanian devil, spotted-tailed quoll and eastern quoll) and the feral cat. These species are of particular relevance to habitat restoration projects, as there is mounting evidence that healthy predator populations can increase ecosystem resilience.
The two main aims of my project are:
- To provide detailed information on the movements and habitat requirements of native marsupial carnivores (Tasmanian devils, spotted tailed and eastern quolls) in the Midlands region.
- To investigate the habitat use and predatory impact of the feral cat, and the potential of alternative cat management methods.
These aims will be addressed through intensive fieldwork including camera trapping and GPS tracking to monitor the movements, habitat use and interactions of these species. The outcomes of this research will be used to inform habitat restoration planning in the Tasmanian Midlands and beyond, by providing insights into what constitutes restoration success from the animal’s point of view. Additionally, information on the feral cat will be used to investigate alternative management options for this species as traditional culling methods are costly, labour intensive and often ineffective.
Thank you to the assessment panel, Dr Raghu Sathyamurthy (CSIRO), Dr Bek Christensen (Stepup Qld), Dr Bryony Horton (OEH) & Dr Kathryn Berry (JCU) for their time and energy in reviewing the applications.
ESA gratefully recoginises the support of our partners The Nature Conservancy and Thomas Foundation in joining with us to make this award possible.
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