I completed both my undergraduate and honours degree at the University of Sydney, with a focus on terrestrial ecology.
Under the supervision of Prof. Chris Dickman, I gained my first class honours with a thesis that investigated the foraging ecology of the Lesser Hairy-Footed Dunnart in the Simpson Desert.
Soon after completing my honours, I completed a Masters in Teaching (Secondary Science), at the University of Sydney and taught at several high schools in the Sydney region prior to moving to Canberra.
I was lucky enough to be offered the Glenn Sanecki Alpine Scholarship at ANU in 2010 and have been working in the mountains since then to improve our understanding of alpine-subalpine skinks.
Reptiles in Resorts: The Responses of Skinks to Ski-Related Disturbances
The general distribution and richness of reptile species in Kosciuszko National Park was studied by Associate Professor Will Osborne in the late 1970s. More recently, the bulk of research in this region has focused on mammal assemblages.
In particular, Dr Glenn Sanecki studied the effects of ski run development and snow characteristics on small mammals such as the Bush Rat and Antechinus. Sanecki's studies showed that ski run development and maintenance may adversely affect mammal movements and overwintering survival, so he suggested greater connectivity was needed between runs to ensure the long term survival of mammal species. A gaping knowledge gap remains however regarding the alpine reptiles. What can we do to manage this faunal assemblage more effectively?
With this knowledge gap in mind, my project aims to look at the effects of habitat modification (i.e. ski run and associated infrastructure development) on the distribution and abundance of skinks in Kosciuszko National Park.
Little is known about what influences the distribution and abundance of skinks in alpine areas; so this study will help to provide details about the importance of structural features, as well as which processes (such as thermal regimes, predation and vegetation composition) drive habitat choices by skinks.
This research can then be used to help inform the future design, development and management of recreational ski areas in Australia so that impacts on reptile assemblages in the region are minimized.