Ms Nicole Hansen

MPhil (Zoology) (UNSW), BSc (Ecology) (UNSW)
PhD Student

Nicole's current PhD research has matrix ecology as a central theme, with a focus on how species, particularly herpetofauna, respond to habitat loss and fragmentation in agricultural landscapes. Her landscape-scale project aims to address how the matrix influences patch-dependent species, generating a new picture of how valuable different matrix types are for retaining biodiversity in production
landscapes. 

Nicole has previously worked across a range of environmental sectors, including research, private (as an ecological consultant) and government (as a NSW OEH threatened species officer). Her research has previously included pest species management and threatened species recovery, grounded in applied conservation both in Australia and internationally.

Research interests

Nicole's PhD research is a part of a collaborative project between the Australian National University, Central Tablelands and Central West Local Land Services (LLS) and the Lake Cowal Foundation, to improve the effectiveness of revegetation sites created by the LLS’s corridor projects. The rural landscape of the western Lachlan Catchment is one of the most fragmented and cleared agricultural regions of Australia. Current programs to re-connect the landscape, while effective at restoring native vegetation cover, lack a detailed understanding of how/if native fauna use these complex and changing human-natural systems. Her research will address the following objectives:

• How different matrix types can promote or limit fauna movement?
• How can the matrix be manipulated to get patch-dependent species to move and under what circumstances? 
• Does the matrix influence/enhance the effectiveness of planted corridors in facilitating the movement of herpetofauna through fragmented agricultural landscapes? 

Her project, supported by the Biodiversity Fun and a NSW Trust Grant, will discover the kinds of changes in the matrix that can promote or limit movement movement through farming landscapes, and the consequences for herpetofauna. Her project aims to find management approaches that enable ongoing growth in production while accommodating native species that depend on remnant native vegetation.  She will therefore make discoveries about linked human-natural systems, including design options to make these systems robust to changes such as agricultural intensification. Her findings would also assist in better planning and implementation of plantings and inform land-use planning, policy development, restoration and stewardship payments that help maintain an ecologically sustainable agricultural sector while reducing isolation of preferred habitats. 

Hansen, N and Crosby, K (2016) 'Habitat use of the threatened Booroolong Frog (Litoria booroolongensis) in the Central West Catchment Management Area'. Australian Zoologist (approved for publication)

Hansen, N (2011) Rats in the Ranks: Demographic responses of an invasive species, Rattus rattus, to pest control in urban bushland remnants. Thesis submitted to the University of NSW for fulfilment for the MPhil degree.