Hannah Gerke

PhD Student

Hannah is a PhD candidate at the Fenner School of Society and Environment at the Australian National University. Her PhD research focuses on the spatial ecology and behaviour of urban eastern brown snakes (Pseudonaja textilis), as part of the Canberra Snake Tracking Project. Eastern brown snakes are one of the most common species in Canberra, leading to hundreds of brown snakes being translocated around the ACT each year. To understand the impacts of translocation on brown snakes, Hannah will be radiotracking translocated and resident (non-translocated) snakes in urban nature preserves and comparing their health, survival, and movement behaviour. Her project also seeks to measure differences in personality traits among individual snakes, and identify the role personality plays in snake movement in the field. In addition to her PhD research, Hannah has experience in environmental consulting conducting surveys for threatened plant and animals throughout the ACT and NSW, and has worked as a curatorial technician in the Herpetology collection of the Australian National Wildlife Collection.

Prior to moving to Australia, Hannah completed her BS in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University, and her MS in Wildlife Ecology at University of Georgia. Hannah's MS research investigated the impacts of the 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident on wildlife. She studied scavenger ecology and behaviour in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone (Gerke 2022), as well as the contaminant burdens in snakes (Gerke 2020) and the relationship between spatial ecology and radiation exposure in Japanese rat snakes (Elaphe spp.) (Gerke 2021).

Hannah's research interests include human-wildlife conflict, wildlife conservation, scavenger ecology, spatial ecology and tracking methods, and the impacts of human activities on animal behaviour and ecosystem processes. She's also interested in citizen science, science communication, and how public engagement in research can benefit conservation.

Gerke, H. C., Hinton T.G., K. Okuda, and J.C. Beasley. 2022. Increased abundance of a common scavenger affects allocation of carrion but not efficiency of carcass removal in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. Scientific Reports 12(1):1-14. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-12921-y

Gerke, H.C., Hinton T.G., and J.C. Beasley. 2021. Movement Behavior and Habitat Selection of Rat Snakes (Elaphe spp.) in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone. Ichthyology & Herpetology 109(2): 545–556. https://doi.org/10.1643/h2019282

Gerke, H.C., Hinton T.G., Takase, Anderson, Nanba, and J.C. Beasley. 2020. Radiocesium concentrations and GPS-coupled dosimetry in Fukushima snakes. Science of The Total Environment: 139389. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.139389

Cunningham, K., T.G. Hinton, J.J. Luxton, A. Bordman, K. Okuda, L.E. Taylor, J. Hayes, H.C. Gerke, S.M. Chinn, D. Anderson, M.L. Laudenslager, T. Takase, Y. Nemoto, H. Ishiniwa, J.C. Beasley, and S. M. Bailey. 2021. Evaluation of DNA damage and stress in wildlife chronically exposed to low-dose, low-dose rate radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. Environment International 155:106675. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106675

Sebastián-González, E., Z. Morales-Reyes, F. Botella, [et al., including H.C. Gerke]. 2021. Functional traits driving species role in the structure of scavenger networks. Ecology 102(12):e03519. https://doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3519

Sebastián-González, E., Morales-Reyes, Z., Botella, F., [et al., including Gerke, H.C.]. 2020. Network structure of vertebrate scavenger assemblages at the global scale: drivers and ecosystem functioning implications. Ecography. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ecog.05083

Owen, D.A.S, Sheriff M.J., Heppner J.J., Gerke H.C., Ensminger D.C., MacLeod K.J., and T. Langkilde. 2019. Maternal corticosterone increases thermal sensitivity of heart rate in lizard embryos. Biology Letters. 15:20180718. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2018.0718