I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, UK. My interests evolves around the behaviour of top predators and how we can use this knowledge to improve their conservation.
I am currently working on the adaptive significance of egg shape in a variety of bird species. Natural selection of the bird eggshell is based on opposing goals. The shell must withstand the breaking forces imposed upon it during incubation, but also be sufficiently fragile to allow successful hatching. Furthermore, deviations from the norm in a specific eggshell trait may reflect unusual selection pressures acting on that trait. For example, a perfectly spherical egg is generally considered to be ‘strongest’ shape for an egg, yet pear-shaped eggs are less likely to roll out of the nest or off a cliff ledge (instead they roll in a tight circle). I am exploring in greater detail the tradeoffs of different egg shapes - looking at both the microstructure of the eggshell and overall shape.
I conducted my PhD at the University of New South Wales, Australia. My goal was to better understand the feeding ecology of one of Australia’s largest marsupial carnivores, the thylacine and the factors that drove it to extinction – as there are currently many conflicting interpretations. Dietary specialisation has been shown to strongly influence a species ability to adapt to changing food resources. I used skull biomechanics and stable isotopes to (i) determine whether diet specialisation and competition influenced their extinction, and (ii) explore long-term shifts in marsupial carnivore diet and habitat use to test their resilience to environmental change.
Research Assistant (FEARlab), University of New England
Postdoctoral fellow (FEARlab), University of New England
Unit Coordinator of Priciples of Zoology (Z00L100), University of New England