ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Biodiversity Conservation

This theme is the platform for research projects undertaken by both the Institute's terrestrial and aquatic ecologists working on one or more aspects of biodiversity conservation including landscape ecology, environmental history, vegetation and wildlife ecology, restoration ecology, plant-animal interactions, ecosystem services and native fish conservation. Current major projects include an Australia-wide bio-acoustic observatory and a project funded by an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award which is looking at whether Indigenous land management practices can forestall an extinction crisis.

  • Current Projects
  • Completed Projects
  • Higher Degree Research
  • Research Activities

Current Projects

Acoustics for large scale biodiversity assessment. Schwarzkopf, L., Fuller, R., Roe, P., Watson, D. & McDonald, P. (2020-2023) Project led by James Cook University, ARC Discovery grant.

Acoustic Observatory: a network to monitor biodiversity across Australia. Led by Queensland University of Technology with ILWS team members Watson, D., Luck, G. & Nimmo, D. (2017-2024) ARC Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities project ($900,000) ILWS sub-contract (2020) $27,000

Advancing fish-protection screening at Australian water diversions. Baumgartner, L. (2019-2022) NSW DPI, $95,000 Project details

Assessing and enhancing Macquarie Perch population in Mannus Creek. Doyle, K. (2021-2022) Murray LLS, $66,000

Cohuna fish Screen Assessment, Baumgartner, L., Bretzel, J. (PhD student) (2021-2022) North Central Catchment Management Authority, $19,999

Computational methods for population-size-dependant branching processes. Hautphenne, S., Nguyen, G. & Massaro, M. (2020-2023) project led by the University of Melbourne. ARC Discovery grant, ILWS sub-contract $55,357, Total project $380,000 Project details

Drivers of fisheries recruitment in semi-arid river systems. Baumgartner, L. (2020 – 2022) NSW DPI, $26,500 Project details

Eavesdropping on wetland birds. Watson, D., Znidersic, L. & Towsey, M.(2020-2021) CSU Foundation Trust- Private philanthropic donation or gift, $200,000 Project details

Eyes on Recovery [The Upper Murray Fire Project]. Nimmo, D. & Linley,G. (PhD student) (2021-2023) World Wildlife Fund International, $20,000

Estimating wildlife mortality during the 2019-20 bushfire season. Nimmo, D. (2020-2021) DAWE, $67,650. Project details

Field validation trials of eDNA survey techniques for the Manning River Turtle in the Nowendoc River Catchment. Humphries, P., Furlan, E., Tout-Lyon, J.   (2021-2022) MidCoast Council, $8728.

Grassland responses to the reintroduction of cultural burns. Price, J., Nimmo, D.  (2020-2023) Hermon Slade Foundation, $83,462 Project details

How do sandalwoods (Santalum spp.) affect desert communities: integrating above-ground patterns with below-ground processes. Watson, D., Price, J., Frew, A. (2018-2021) Hermon Slade Foundation, $89,522 Project details

Mitigating the impacts of mining and mining infrastructure on northern quolls. Nimmo, D. (2021 - 2024) Consolidated Minerals Pty Ltd, $25,000

Monitoring and evaluation of nest boxes for hollow-dependent fauna on the NSW North Coast - Phase 1. Knight, A. (2021-2022) North Coast Regional Landcare Network, $9000

Monitoring northern quoll space in relation to disturbance and restoration. Nimmo, D., (2021 - 2023) Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, $50,000

Quantifying the threat posed by feral cats to Australian reptiles. Chapple, D., Moseby, K., Nimmo, D., Doherty, T., & Carthey, A. (2021-2023) ARC Discovery project. Total amount $545,000. Project led by Monash University. Sub-contract $109,612 Project details

Regional Land Partnerships Program - Assessing the population status of Greater Gliders in Woomargama National Park. Nimmo, D., Linley, G. (PhD student) (2021-2022) Murray LLS, $19,990

River red gum thinning project, vegetation monitoring 2021-2022. Spooner, P. (2021-2022) Department of Planning, Industry  and Environment, $221,030

Screens for Streams: Boosting native fish stocks through improved water extraction practices. Nayeem, T., Pawsey, N. & Baumgartner, L. (2019-2023) NSW DPIE-NSW Recreational Fishing Trust grant, $211,165.  Project details

Seed enhancement technologies to restore severely burned landscapes. Price, J., Nimmo, D. (2021-2023) WWF, $20,000

Seed Biology of grassy ecosystem species. Price, J., Nimmo, D. & Hodges, J. (PhD student) (2019 - 2022) Director of National Parks, $46,363 plus additional $10,000 (2021). $56,363 Project details

Species Expert Assessment Plans (SEAPs) project – Frogs. Nimmo, D., Michael, D.  (2021-2022) Project lead Monash University. DAWE Total project $375,000. ILWS sub-contract $111,721

Species Expert Assessment Plans (SEAPs) project – lizards and snakes. Nimmo, D., Michael, D. (2021-2022) project lead Monash University. DAWE. Total project $446,691. ILWS sub-contract $148,413

Society and science: a new approach to wildlife disease surveillance. Peters, A., Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J. (2020-2023) NSW Environment Trust, $200,000 Project details

Society and science: A new Approach to Wildlife Disease Surveillance. Peters, A., Masterman-Smith, H., Rafferty, J. (2021- 2024) DAWE -Environmental Biosecurity project Fund $231,772 (PhD scholarship)

TLM-Intervention Monitoring, Australasian and little bittern presence and breeding surveys 2021-22. Watson, D., Znidersic, E, Wassens, S., (2021-2022) NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, $28,274

The effects of fire on arid fungal communities. Nimmo, D., Greenwood, L. (2020-2021) Australasian Mycological Society, $3000

The status of populations of Australian Sandalwood (Santalum spicatum) in Australia's western rangelands. Watson, D., McLellan, R. (2020-2023) Australian Flora Foundation, $7254

What are the effects of the rodent eradication on the threatened Lord Howe currawong and its diet? Massaro, M., Whitsed, R. & Segal, R. (PhD student) (2018-2021) Australia and Pacific Science Foundation, $36,240 Project details

Wild to wild translocation of reptiles in fire prone landscapes. Nimmo, D. (2021 - 2022) DELWP, $227,272 Project details

Wild to wild translocation of reptiles in fire prone landscapes. Westaway, D. (PhD student)., Nimmo, D. (2021) Victorian Environmental Assessment Council, $1,296 (Scholarship) Project details

Wombat-powered recovery: harnessing an ecosystem engineer to increase bushfire resilience. Nimmo, D. (2021-2022) WWF, $19,600

Completed Projects

Bio-Acoustic Observatory: Engaging Birdwatchers to Monitor Biodiversity by Collaboratively Collecting and Analysing Big Audio Data. Roe, P., Brereton, M., & Watson, D, M. (2014-2017) ARC Discovery grant,  $477,000 Project details

Can excluding feral livestock from waterholes recreate refuges for savannah birds? Massaro, M., Nimmo, D., Price, J., Mihailou, H. (PhD student) & Vincent, J.  (2017-2020) Hermon Slade Foundation, $72,224. Project Details

Can landscape structure enhance the resilience of biodiversity to climatic extremes? Insights from the  Millennium  Drought.  Nimmo, D.,  Bennett, A. (La Trobe Uni),  Haslem, A. (LaTrobe Uni) & Radford, J. (Bush Heritage Australia). (2015-2018) Hermon Slade Foundation, $86,210 Project details

Can Indigenous land management forestall an extinction crisis?  Nimmo, D. (2017-2020) ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, $372,000 Project details

Can Indigenous fire management restore mammal communities? Nimmo, D. Bird, R.B. (Pennsylvania State University), Bird, D. (Pennsylvania State University), Ritchie, E., (Deakin University) (2016-2020) Hermon Slade Foundation, $85,971 Project details

Community reforestation for biodiversity and livelihood diversification in Timor-Leste. Millar, J. (2017-2021) UK Darwin Initiative Fund, $528,703 Project details

Compact cities or sprawling suburbs? Optimal design of growing cities to conserve biodiversity, Nimmo, D. (2017-2020) Australian Academy of Science-WH Gladstones Population & Environment Fund, $24,000 Project details

Complementary measures for native fish. Baumgartner, L. (2017) CSIRO/Murray-Darling Basin Authority. $33,000

Connectivity analyses for Slopes to Summit project, Spooner, P. & McDonald, S. (2016-2020) Holbrook Landcare and NSW Environmental Trust (Bush Connects), $30,000 Project details

Developing a tool to assess wild penguin welfare. Freire, R. & Massaro, M. (2020-2021) Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), $6125

Developing design guidelines for diversion screens that save native fish and enhance agricultural productivity. Baumgartner, L. Doyle, K. (2018-2020) Ian Potter Foundation, $299,331 Project details

Development of strategies to optimise release and clean up strategies underpinning possible use of herpes virus 3 (CyHV-3) for carp biocontrol in Australia. Silva, L, & Baumgartner, L. (2017) Fisheries Research & Development Corporation. $39,000. Project Details

Ecology of the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara. Nimmo, D. & Moore, H. (PhD student) (2017-2018), Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, $5500

Ecological assessment of the status of the Southern Bell Frog and Sloane's froglet in Mywurlie station, One Tree NSW. Wassens, S., Knight, A., Walcott, A. & Heard, G. (2017-2018), Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd, $46,948. Project details

Ecosystem services provided by birds in agricultural landscapes, Luck, G., Saunders, M., & Peisley, R. (2015-2017), Wildlife Preservation Society of Australia, $1000

Environmental drivers of disease risk in relic Bell Frog populations in East Gippsland. Heard, G., Wassens, S. & Turner, A. (PhD student) (2018-2019) Greening Australia, $32,403

Environmental water requirements of freshwater mussels in the northern basin. McCasker, N., Humphries, P. (2020) CEWO, $20,000. Project led by Griffith University. Project details

Evaluation of survival behaviour of fish to inform re-stocking programs. Freire, R., Humphries, P., Rogers, L. (PhD student), Westaway, C. (NSW Fisheries) & Kopf, K. (Charles Darwin University).  (2020-2021) Department of Primary Industries, Recreational Fishing Trust. $48,880. Project details

Fish investigations associated with Snowy 2.0 - Snowy Hydro Ltd. (Assignment 1). Baumgartner, L., Silva, L., Ning, N.  (2017-2020) Snowy Hydro Ltd. $61,647 Project details

Fishing for answers: Unlocking spawning secrets of Australian native fish. Baumgartner, L., Silva, L., Thiem, J. (2016-2020) Recreational Fishing Trust. $100,000 Project details

Floristic and vegetation surveys in Murray Valley National Park. Spooner, P. (2019-2020) Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, Contract variation, $196,787.  Project details

Germination trials of grassy woodland species. Price, J. (2017) Goulburn Broken CMA, $3000.

Grassland biodiversity and solar farms. Price, J. (2019) Darlington Point Solar Farm (Edify Energy), $10,000

Maccas on the Manus: Bushfire Recovery. Doyle, K., Baumgartner, L., McGregor, C., Ning, N., Weatherman, K.  (2020-2021), Murray Local Land Services (DAWE Bushfire Recovery Funding), $130,000 Project details

Macca's in the Mannus, Macquarie Perch Refuge in the Upper Murray. Baumgartner, L., Silva, L., Kopf, S. (2017) NSW Department of Primary Industries/Murray LLS, $120,000 Project details

Murray Small-bodied threatened fish project. Baumgartner, L., Silva, L. & Kopf, S. (2017) NSW Department of Primary Industries/Murray LLS, $52,000 Project details

Overcoming barriers to intergenerational recruitment in direct-seeded revegetation sites. Price, J. & Guja, L. (Australian National Botanic Gardens) (2019-2020) Australia Flora Foundation, $18,181 Project details

Phase 2: Ecological assessment of the status of the Southern bell frog and Sloane’s froglet in Mywurlie Station, One Tree, NSW. Knight, A., Wassens, S., & Heard, G. (2018-2019) Murrumbidgee Irrigation ltd, $45,673

Predicting redfin survival through the Snowy 2.0 scheme. Assignment 2. Baumgartner, L., Silva, L., Ning, N. & McPherson, J. (2018-2020) Snowy Hydro Ltd. $848,803 Project details

PIT tag data analysis project.  Huang, X., Baumgartner, L., and Li, J. (2018-2019) Karltek Pty Ltd., $25,000 Project details

Predicting the delivery of ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes, Luck, G. (2014-2017) ARC Discovery grant, $360,000 Project details

Reconnaissance and recommendations on mistletoe management in macadamia orchards. Watson, D. & Watson, J. (2018-2019) Horticulture Innovation Australia Ltd, $18,000  Final Report

Recovery of native fish communities in the Murray-Darling Basin. Baumgartner, L. (2017) Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, $18,948.

River Red Gum Ecological thinning trial (Honours project). Spooner, P. (2017) NSW OEH, $8000

River red gum floristics and vegetation monitoring 2017-2018. Spooner, P. (2017-2018) DECCW $186,471 Project details

River red gum floristics and vegetation monitoring 2020-2021, Spooner, P. (2020-2021) NSW DPIE, $225,046 Project details

Spatial ecology of the endangered Inland Carpet Python. Heard, G. (2018-2019) Parks Victoria – Research Partners Panel, $10,000

Stuffed Murray Cod in Pubs. Humphries, P., McCasker, N., Kopf, R.  & O'Connell, M. (PhD student), (2017-2020) MDBA Scholarship grant, $45,000 Project details

The impact of buffel grass invasion on Indigenous food plants and animals in Australia’s Western Desert. Nimmo, D., Greenwood, L. (PhD student) (2018-2019) Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, $6750. Project details

The impact of feral ungulate visitation to ephemeral savannah waterholes and their flow on effects for native birds. Mihailou, H., Massaro, M., (2017-2018) Birdlife Australia, $3500  Project details

The impacts of feral livestock visitation to waterholes and their flow-on effects for native birds and mammals. Massaro, M., Mihailou, H. (PhD student) (2018-2020) Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment, $4705

The influence of invasive predators and fire regimes on northern quolls. Nimmo, D. & Moore, H. (PhD student) (2017-2020) WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, $78,000. Project details

Full list of all completed Projects

Current HDR students

Joachim Bretzel: Investigating fish protection screens for water diversions and irrigation pumps. Principal Supervisor Professor Lee Baumgartner

Mitchell Cowan: The use of artificial refuges for northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara, WA. Principal Supervisor Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Leanne Greenwood: The interactions between Indigenous burning, plant communities and fungal communities in Australia's western deserts. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Liam Grimmett: Simulating ecological processes in virtual communities to test the transferability of species distribution models to novel environments. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Rachel Whitsed

Joshua Hodges: Post-fire seedling recruitment in grasslands of south-eastern Australia. Principal supervisor Dr Jodi Price

Grant Linely: The influence of landscape-scale fire refuges and pyrodiversity on mammal communities following an unprecedented megafire. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Dale Nimmo

Richard McLellan: The ecology of Santalaceae species (Sandalwood, Quandong, Leafless Ballart) in semi-arid rangelands of mid-west Australia. Principal supervisor Professor David Watson

Helenna Mihailou: The effects of feral animals on bird diversity around waterholes in the Northern Territory. Principal supervisor Dr Melanie Massaro

Thomas Munro: Seed enhancement technologies to overcome barriers to mining restoration. Principal supervisor Dr Jodi Price

Dena Paris: Foraging behaviours, habitat use and density related reproductive performance and dispersal in the endangered Chatham Island black robin. Principal supervisor Dr Melanie Massaro

Leia Rogers: Fish behaviour and ecology in native freshwater fish. Principal supervisor Dr Raf Friere

Emmalie Sanders:  Resource utilisation of the rakali (Hydromys chrysogaster) in the Murrumbidgee catchment area.  Principal supervisor Associate Professor Skye Wassens

Dr Richard Segal: Investigating the effects of rodent eradication on the threatened Lord Howe currawong. Principal supervisor Dr Melanie Massaro

Lauren StootPredicting the impacts of river development on fish movement and population connectivity: A case study on the Clarence River system Principal supervisor Professor Lee Baumgartner

Anna Turner: Chytrid fungus on southern bell frogs in the Lowbidgee and Gippsland Lakes. Principal supervisor Associate Professor Skye Wassens

Dylan Westaway:  Assessing habitat fragments for their utility in reptile conservation in fire-prone landscapes Principal supervisor Associate Professor Dale Nimmo



Harry Moore: Quantifying the habitat requirements of an endangered marsupial predator, the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus). Principal supervisor Associate Professor Dale Nimmo


Pauline Andree: Determinants of vocal variation in Australian cuckoos. (Masters) Principal supervisor Professor David Watson

Sarah TalbotAn Investigation of Personality in the Domestic Ferret (Mustela putorius furo). Principal supervisor Associate professor Skye Wassens


Dr Elizabeth Znidersic: Optimizing monitoring techniques for cryptic wetland birds. Principal supervisor Professor David Watson

Research Activities

As well undertaking externally funded research projects, ILWS members (including Adjunct members) are also engaged in research activities/projects that have either received internal funding from ILWS and/or CSU; are not managed by ILWS; or are non-funded but aligned with their research interests.

Examples under this theme include:

  • the development of a primary school learning and teaching resource about frogs and wetlands around Corowa and district
  • the publication of a coloring book on Southern Bell frogs which was funded by NSW DPIE
  • a project to investigate the distribution and habitat preferences of the endangered Grey Snake Hemiapsis damelii (IUCN) in the lower Murrumbidgee region, NSW
  • a project on birds in flood-plain woodlands in the Mallee region, as part of a long-term program
  • long term study of the impacts of longwall mining on amphibian populations on the Woronora Plateau and the status of platypus in the rivers and creeks of the upper Macquarie catchment
  • a long-term study monitoring birds in Sturt National Park in the arid, far north-western corner of NSW where four acoustic recording stations were installed in 2014 for the Australian Acoustic Observatory
  • an initiative to establish a new Australian Wildlife Health Institute
  • data analysis for a research project looking to better understand the endangered Australasian bittern (also known as the Bunyip bird) with surveys of bitterns in the Riverina region (Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigation areas) commencing in 2012
  • a research project, in collaboration with the University of Tartu in Estonia looking at elevated CO2, [a climate change impact]  and the impact on mycorrhizal-plant-insect interactions on  different Australian native plant species
  • two pilot projects researching conditioned taste aversion (CTA) trials; one with sugar gliders Conditioning sugar gliders to leave swift parrot eggs off the menu- in Tasmania; the other with dingoes, Conditioning dingoes to leave campsite food off the menu, with NSW National Parks, Port Macquarie
  • a collaborative project between ILWS and CSU Engineering that developed and trialed a new type of nesting box which is expected to perform better under extreme climate conditions than current wooden boxes. The team used detailed knowledge of target species to develop, field test and manufacture different 3D printed artificial tree hollows
  • a long-term study of mistletoes
  • a world-first trial in which creeping mistletoe seeds have been planted on plane trees in inner Melbourne as a way of increasing biodiversity
  • research for a book on Travelling Stock Routes and Reserves
  • research on global scale patterns in grassland community assemblies;
  • an investigation of the relationship between burrowing frogs and soil health
  • development of a conservation plan for declining turtle numbers
  • a three year study on how heat waves and diet affect folivorous mammals - the ringtail possum
  • the impact of chytrid on frogs (bell frogs)in Australia
  • involvement in projects for the FAUNA (Future-proofing Australasia's Unique Native Animals) Research Alliance, a network which connects researchers and conservation "end user" practitioners from 47 organisations. Projects include the Rewilding Little Desert project in partnership with Conservation Volunteers Australia
  • an investigation of "call playback", a tool used by many birders to help identify birds, and its impact on birds
  • assistance with processing and analysing data sets for the NGO Panthera, in Cali, Columbia, which is working to save jaguars
  • an Artist In Residence project with Falls Creek Resort Management (FCRM) based on Bogong High Plains' peatlands' research.