I am a conservation decision scientist interested in building strong ecological knowledge and tools to address the world’s most pressing challenges of recovering biodiversity whilst maintaining human well-being in human-modified landscapes. It is important to me that my research is applicable and accessible to agencies and organisations that make conservation decisions, and I draw on a wide range of skills, techniques and professional experience to address real questions related to monitoring and managing species and ecosystems to try to address the global biodiversity crisis we are currently facing.
I am building a team of researchers at the Queensland University of Technology interested in developing resilient agri-food supply chain interventions that can benefit both biodiversity and people. Despite many efforts to monitor and manage declining species and ecosystems around the world, biodiversity is still not routinely included in mainstream decision-making and continues to decline at the highest rate in human history. Added to this is the problem that both natural and agri-food systems are changing all the time, with climate change likely to increase the impacts of extreme events like drought, fire and economic shocks. My goal is to build approaches and tools that can help predict the effectiveness of different kinds of interventions in agri-food systems (e.g. farm sustainability initiatives, consumer marketing to change purchasing behaviours, taxes on “unsustainable” foods), and learn how we can best manage dynamic production and consumption systems to have the best outcomes for people and for nature. Please contact me if you are interested in working with me on this!
I am a strong supporter of diversity and inclusion and believe that everyone has their own unique path to follow and should be helped through that journey, wherever it takes them. I am a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and chair the Queensland Chapter of Queers in Science, a national initiative to support LGBTQIA+ people in STEMM.
I followed a non-traditional path to academia after completing my Honours degree investigating the ecology of eastern pygmy possums with Prof Chris Dickman at the University of Sydney in 2001. My path took me to eight years outside academia, working in jobs in central and northern Australia and Canada, ranging from zookeeping to tourism and hospitality (including managing the best bakery in the Canadian Rockies) to education and project management for Greening Australia. This time away from academia was important to me and helped me progress in my journey of finding out who I was, who I wanted to be, and how I might get there. I encourage everyone to not be afraid of getting outside of the academic bubble and learn about themselves as well as how the real world works!
I completed my PhD at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Science supervised by the inspiring team of Hugh Possingham, Kerrie Wilson and Tara Martin. I worked on cost-effective and efficient resource allocation and decision-making processes for monitoring and management of threats to biodiversity. My research looked at how to manage and monitor species in the large-scale restoration initiative Gondwana Link in the south-western biodiversity hotspot of Australia.
I’ve always been keen to work on applied problems in conservation. From my time with Greening Australia I discovered how uncertain we are about how, where and when to manage and recover ecosystems. My first postdoctoral position therefore focused on how we might account for uncertainty and risk in conservation decisions with Jonathan Rhodes and Hugh Possingham, working at the National Environmental Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub, University of Queensland.
In 2014 I moved to sunny Canberra to work with Professor David Lindenmayer at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Australian National University, to return to some ecological work and continue my research into optimal monitoring and management of animal communities. I investigated the usefulness of network analysis and species co-occurrence to understand community vulnerability to threatening processes and predict how we might manage communities into the future.
I work with non-government conservation organisations and government agencies concerned with managing biodiversity in Australia, Africa, New Zealand, U.S.A. and the U.K., to develop frameworks and tools for prioritising investment in the conservation of threatened species and ecosystems. In my recent joint position with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the University of Queensland I conducted land use planning to protect human livelihoods and biodiversity in central Africa and Madagascar, as part of a large collaboration between the major African conservation NGOs including the African Wildlife Foundation, World Resources Institute and Wildlife Conservation Society and funded by USAID. A key component of this work was developing and delivering training workshops to practitioners and government employees in conservation planning and decision-making tools.
I was excited to start an Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) in 2017, titled “Forecasting ecosystem collapse and recovery by tracking networks of species” in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney. My research explored how to measure and track change in dynamic ecosystems, collaborating with the amazing Chris Dickman, Glenda Wardle and Desert Ecology Research Group. I had the privilege of working with some amazing practitioners from Bush Heritage Australia in central Australia on Wangkamadla country, an amazing place to work!
At the end of 2021 I started my Australian Research Council Future Fellowship back in my home town (finally) of Brisbane at Queensland University of Technology.
My life is much more than collecting and analysing data! I love to travel and explore the world. I can generally be found somewhere outside chasing birds or hanging with my dog Chilli (the best dog in the world).
Please contact me by email:
Ayesha Tulloch | ARC Future Fellow
Queensland University of Technology
School of Biology and Environmental Science
P-Block, Gardens Point | QUT | Queensland| Australia