Biosecurity Research Capacity

biosecurityThe School of Biological Sciences at Monash has a broad range of expertise and significant capability in biological invasions research, including nine academic staff members who work in this area. Taxonomically,  researchers in the School have experience working on pathogens, marine and  terrestrial invertebrates, including insect pests, birds, mammals and plants. Expertise includes the application of molecular techniques, physiology and ecophysiology to understand dispersal and transport pathways,  adaptation to new environments and the climatic tolerances of alien and invasive species. Several  researchers in the school use population and community approaches to understand the impacts and long-term consequences of multispecies invasions of natural  landscapes, but also mixed  land-use and production systems.

Additional  expertise includes

  1. information science for biological invasions, including  best practice approaches to collection, collation, listing and management of  invasive species information;
  2. optimization approaches for directing  investment in surveillance and control;
  3. the design and implementation of  evidence-based management systems for the prevention and control of invasions  in protected areas;
  4. the design of national systems for monitoring and  reporting on trends in invasive species and the effectiveness of policy and  management interventions and
  5. the development of both international and  domestic policy and regulations for minimizing the rates and impacts of  biological invasions
Researcher Position Area Experience Relevant expertise

David Chapple

Senior Lecturer

Evolutionary    biology, invasion biology, behavioural ecology, conservation genetics,    phylogenetics and phylogeography

13 years of    research and research leadership experience; advisor on conservation issues    to IUCN, New Zealand Department of Conservation, Lord Howe Island Board, Zoos    Victoria, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage

Use of molecular    markers to understand trade pathways, transport mechanisms, dispersal    patterns, and the estimation of propagule pressure to inform biosecurity    protocols. Evolution in invasive species. The effect of life history and    behavioural          traits on invasion success. Predictors of extinction risk,    threatened species management.

Steven Chown

Professor and    Head of School

Ecology,    environmental physiology, international and domestic biosecurity policy,    terrestrial and marine environments

Research and    research leadership >25 years; established and was inaugural director of    the Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, South Africa; advisor to South    African environment minister on biosecurity legislation; advisor          to the    Antarctic Treaty System, via SCAR, on conservation policy and regulation.    Editorial boards of Antarctic Science, Biological Reviews, BMC Ecology,    Current Opinion in Insect Science, Proceedings B, Polar Biology.

Research    capability in population dynamics, environmental physiology, ecology and    distribution modelling of invasive species and disease vectors, community    ecology; policy development and implementation for managing biosecurity in    global          commons; development of national biosecurity legislation.

Rohan Clarke


Avian pathogens,    marine ecology, conservation biology

Research >10    years Consultant to various national agencies and industry partners on    development and implementation of vertebrate monitoring programs. Past member    of Torres Strait Regional Authority Technical Advisory Group. Considerable    avian          experience in international border zones with both PNG and Indonesia.

Patterns of disease transmission, prevalence and virulence,    especially of avian parasites; avian malaria; MGEatory pathways of disease    vectors and hosts. Development of avian monitoring programs for risk, threat    and impact assessment.          Assessment of Tropical Fire Ant impact on island    biodiversity values.

Carly Cook


Environmental    management

Research >8    years; > 4 years working within conservation management agencies; research    funding from state and Commonwealth management agencies for addressing    priority research questions; provided expert advice to environmental          management    agencies.

Design, implementation and validation of invasive species management    effectiveness evaluations, particularly in protected areas; identifying    reintroduction sites for threatened species     to maximise invasive predator control; translation          of science into    management, monitoring ecosystem condition; development of systems for the    identification and surveillance of new and emerging threats to biodiversity;    design of decision support tools and knowledge transfer systems          that promote    evidence-based decisions; expert elicitation of risk assessments and    ecological thresholds; development and implementation of project    prioritisation protocols.

Kay Hodgins


Ecological genomics of plant invasion; crop    and forest genomics; evolution of plant sexual systems

Research > 8 years

Investigation of evolutionary and molecular changes during biological invasion. Genetic approaches to controlling invasive species, including the use of selfish genetic elements as a strategy to control weeds and invasive plants. Genomic resource development and molecular evolution of weeds, forest          trees and crops.

Melodie McGeoch

Associate Professor

Ecology and conservation biology, Entomology

Research and research leadership >20 years; Conservation agency experience; Consultant    to various national and international agencies on development of bio-monitoring    systems; Lead the development and delivery of the Global Indicator of Biological Invasions for the Convention on    Biological Diversity's 2010 Biodiversity Target; Member of the IUCN Invasive    Species Specialist Group; Steering Committee Member of the Global Invasive Alien Species Information    Partnership.          Engagement with Parks Victoria and DEPI.

The development    of assessment and monitoring systems for invasive alien species impacts and    responses, including tracking the effectiveness of policy and management    interventions; invasion ecology including quantifying patterns and          impacts of    invasion (plants and animals); priority setting for invasive species.

Dustin Marshall


Community ecology and quantitative genetics in marine ecosystems

Research and    research leadership 10 years. Member of the Scientific Advisory Committee to    the Minister for the State Government of Victoria. Statistical consultant for    CSIRO pest unit. Editor of Ecology Letters, Functional Ecology,          Evolution and    Oikos.

Has published on    invasive-native species interactions, biotic resistance to invasions in    coastal systems. Dispersal dynamics of marine invasive species using both    direct estimation and molecular tools. Quantifying the impacts of invasive    alien          species in marine systems. Role of habitat modification in driving    marine invasions. Biogeographical drivers of marine invasions worldwide.

Joslin Moore


Decision analysis for conservation management, invasion ecology, plant community ecology, ecological modelling

Research >13 years; working with practitioners to address invasive species management problems using quantitative tools. Advises Parks Victoria on management of invasive plant species in the Australian Alps.

Structured decision making and optimisation tools for improved conservation management. Optimal allocation of resources across quarantine and surveillance, Optimal and    adaptive surveillance strategies for invasive plant species that account for    imperfect          detection.

Paul Sunnucks

Associate Professor

Population biology of animals, molecular ecology, and ecological genomics.

Research and research leadership >20 years.  Led programs on ecology, genetics and evolution of invasive insects and other arthropods. Invited participant in workshop setting CSIRO research agenda concerning evolution in biosecurity.  Member of Australian Centre for Ecological          Synthesis and Analysis working group integrating evolutionary and genetic processes in population viability analyses.

Research capability in mobility and gene flow of individuals and populations.    Application of genetic approaches to understanding sources, population biology and evolution of invasive species. Research capability in reproductive mode variation and its interaction with the ecology          and evolution of invasive insects. Molecular diagnoses of lineages of animals. 'Wildlife    forensics'.