The central theme of my research has been to establish a sound ecological basis for the management of marine and terrestrial environments in tropical Australia. Because of my commitment to cross-disciplinary research, I have collaborated widely with colleagues in other disciplines, and many of my students are supervised by staff from disciplines other than Ecology and Environmental Science including Anthropology, Biochemistry, Genetics, Geography, GIS, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics. I have also collaborated with environmental lawyers.
Most of my research and that of my students has been in the field of mammalian population ecology, especially of the Dugong, Dugong dugon, with an emphasis on life history, reproductive ecology, population dynamics, diet, distribution, abundance and movements.
I initiated projects on terrestrial mammals while I was coordinator of the Tropical Ecology Program at James Cook University. A longitudinal program to study the behaviour and ecology of the allied rock wallaby, Petrogale assimilis, was established at a study site in north western Queensland in order to determine the factors influencing individual lifetime reproductive success in this species.
I am experienced in research management. I lead the ‘Conserving World Heritage Values’ and Education Programs of the Cooperative Research Centre for the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.. This Program aims to enable policy makers and environmental managers to use all relevant information, including the different values of various stakeholder groups in decision making for the use and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef region in accordance with its World Heritage values. It includes most of the social science in the CRC.
I also lead the species conservation project which aims to monitor the status of stocks of sensitive marine wildlife (dugongs, dolphins and seabirds) to provide early warnings of declines and informed advice likely to lead to better conservation strategies and outcomes.
I frequently act for the Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation and have been a member of numerous panels awarding internal and collaborative research grants and post-doctoral fellowships within JCU.