My research focuses on using good ecological knowledge to inform conservation decision-making processes. I am a conservation scientist interested in particular in decisions that take place in human-modified landscapes where there are usually multiple threats and conflicting objectives related to both biodiversity and social or economic factors. 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.
My passion for conservation led me to follow 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.
I completed my PhD at the University of Queensland’s School of Biological Science with 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.
Most conservation decisions are uncertain as we rarely have perfect information about how species or ecosystems respond to threats and their management. My first postdoctoral position was with the National Environmental Program’s Environmental Decisions Hub at the University of Queensland, and I focused on how we might account for uncertainty and risk in conservation decisions. I explored this in collaboration with Dr Jonathan Rhodes and Prof Hugh Possingham in contexts such as spatial conservation planning and incorporating risk aversion into prioritisation of species recovery projects.
I took up a position as a Research Fellow with Professor David Lindenmayer at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, Australian National University from 2014 to 2016, continuing 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 Jane Goodall Institute 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 commenced my ARC DECRA project entitled “Forecasting ecosystem collapse and recovery by tracking networks of species” in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of Sydney in October 2017. This research explores how to track change in ecosystems made up of complex interacting species and communities, collaborating closely with Professors Christopher Dickman and Glenda Wardle and the Desert Ecology Research Group.
Whenever I am not analysing data I can generally be found somewhere out in the field watching and counting birds or with my dog.
Please contact me by email:
Ayesha Tulloch | ARC DECRA Fellow
The University of Sydney
School of Life and Environmental Sciences
Rm 225b, Heydon Lawrence Building A08 | The University of Sydney | NSW | 2006