Photo by Michael Sale, Notomys alexis

Conference 2015

61st Annual Scientific Meeting
of the Australian Mammal Society

The 61st Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Mammal Society was held at the main Sandy Bay Campus of the University of Tasmania in Hobart from 6 – 10th July 2015. Attendees were treated to an exciting scientific and social program including a postgraduate workshop, plenary speakers, a themed session on wildlife diseases, and wildlife activities. The post-conference tours to Maria Island, Narawntapu NP and the Tarkine provided opportunities to see unique Tasmanian mammals including Tasmanian devils and spotted-tailed quolls. A special symposium was held on the Friday on Ecological Restoration; using mammals to restore ecosystem function. Our focus was on students, sustainability and staying snug. At 42° south, Hobart in midwinter is a special experience.

Conference Abstracts


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Registration Fees

Annual Scientific Meeting

Full conference (Scientific Meeting, 7th-9th July)    

Includes Icebreaker and Postraduate Workshop on 6th July

Note: This does not include the Symposium on 10th July

Concession* Non-member$250


Symposium onEcological Restoration (10thJuly)    Member$100

 Social Program

Conference Dinner (8thFull$65

*Concession includes students and unwaged (including retirees).

Please see below for Accomodation, Social Program and Conference Tours

Scientific Program

Postgraduate workshop: 6th July 2015, 10am – 4pm

Please join us for a series of student workshops. Comes with free lunch and morning and afternoon teas.

Morning: Supercharge your science! Want to write and publish faster and better? Want your work to have a bigger public impact? Professor William Laurance, distinguished research professor and Australian Laureate presents his two-part workshop. Part 1: How to be more prolific: The secrets of writing and publishing scientific papers. Part 2:Research out: Supercharging your public profile

Afternoon: Is there life post PhD?: A panel of scientists will come together to discuss this forbidden question. Think “Q&A” style: Please join in on this interactive workshop as we ask the hard questions to a group of scientists from academia, government and industry. Don’t be shy; come pre-prepared with some of those questions that have been burning in the back of your mind.

Scientific Meeting: 7 – 9th July 2015

The scientific meeting will be held over three days. The program will feature:
·         Plenary address from Distinguished Professor William Laurance
·         Plenary address from Professor Colleen Cassidy St. Claire
·         The Annual General Meeting of the Australian Mammal Society
·         A themed session on wildlife diseases convened by Dr Rodrigo Hamede and Dr Scott Carver
·         Dedicated Poster Session with bar and nibbles (free drinks on proof of having read posters!)

Symposium on Ecological Restoration: 10th July 2015, 9am to 4:30pm

We will host a special symposium day on using mammals to restore ecological function. Restoring functional ecosystems includes the restoration of top-down and bottom-up processes and includes the role of soil engineers, herbivores and predators. The program will feature:
·         Plenary address from Associate Professor Adrian Manning
·         Plenary address from Dr Sarah Legge
·         A dedicated poster session over lunch.

More detailed programs will be available closer to the Meeting.

Plenary Speakers

Professor William Laurance (7th July, 9am)


William. F. Laurance
Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate
Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation
Director of the Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science
Director of ALERT—the Alliance of Leading Environmental Researchers & Thinkers
James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

The 21st century will see an unprecedented expansion of roads, with at least 25 million kilometers of new roads anticipated by 2050. Nine-tenths of all road construction is projected to occur in developing nations, including many tropical regions that sustain exceptional biodiversity and vital ecosystem services. Roads penetrating into remote or frontier areas are a major proximate driver of habitat loss and fragmentation, wildfires, overhunting, and other environmental degradation, often with irreversible impacts on native ecosystems. Unfortunately, much road proliferation is chaotic or poorly planned and the rate of expansion is so great that it often overwhelms the capacity of environmental planners and managers. I will present a global scheme for prioritizing road building. This large-scale zoning plan seeks to limit the environmental costs of road expansion while maximizing its potential benefits, especially for agriculture. This model identifies areas with high environmental values where future road building should be avoided, areas where strategic road improvements could help to increase agricultural yields with modest environmental costs, and ‘conflict areas’ where road building could have sizable benefits but with serious environmental damage. The plan provides a template for proactively zoning and prioritizing roads during the most explosive era of road expansion in human history.

Professor Colleen Cassady St Clair (8th July, 9am)


Professor Colleen Cassady St. Clair
Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Canada

Many authors have described the tremendous potential for the discipline of behavioural ecology to contribute solutions to the diverse problems faced by conservation biology, but the principle has been more prevalent than the practice.  I address this gap by promoting greater use of behavioral flexibility as a conservation commodity and show how it is broadly applicable, but under-appreciated as a tool.  As a species attribute, behavioral flexibility is often associated with generalists and recognized often as a characteristic of invasive species, urban adapters, and resilience.  As an individual attribute, behavioral flexibility has only recently been recognized and studied in wild populations.  Because of this development, it is increasingly possible to identify, categorize, augment, suppress, or otherwise manipulate this trait to effect conservation goals using methods and theory from the field of animal behaviour.  I illustrate this potential with studies from my own lab on wild elk, wolves, coyotes, bears, and cougars to show how conservation managers might target the behavioral flexibility of individuals as part of more comprehensive solutions to (a) increase the functional connectivity of fragmented landscapes, (b) reduce the likelihood of human-wildlife conflict, especially in conservation corridors, (c) identify precursors to conflict to lessen the need for lethal management, and (d) stem the development of habituation, food conditioning, predator refugia, and ecological traps to enhance ecological integrity and coexistence between people and wildlife.  I finish by exploring some additional applications of behavioural flexibility for wildlife management and conservation in Australia with the hope of inviting further dialogue.

Associate Professor Adrian Manning (10th July, 9am)


Associate Professor Adrian D. Manning

Fenner School of Environment and Society
ANU College of Medicine, Biology & Environment
The Australian National University

The consequences of ecosystem modification and loss, and the resulting unravelling of trophic webs and ecosystem function, are widely recognised. The greatest challenge in conservation biology is re-building functional ecosystems and re-weaving their intricate linkages. Not only this, we must also ensure that they have the capacity to adapt. Evidence is now emerging of the profound, cascading effects that reintroduction of highly interactive species can have on ecosystems. This suggests that a greater emphasis on ‘reintroductions for function’ could have great potential to help reverse the unravelling of ecosystems. The interdependent nature of ecosystems means that we also need to shift towards more long-term strategic, sequenced, multi-species reintroduction planning. However, is our scientific, societal or policy context ready to support widespread adoption of whole-of-ecosystem restoration? I will explore this question and, using international examples, will discuss how we might further harness the reintroduction of functional species for ecosystem restoration in Australia. I outline the Mulligans Flat – Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment and Woodland Sanctuary which are aimed not only at restoring a ‘whole ecosystem’, including sequenced reintroduction of species, but also changing thinking about how we restore our lost ecosystems.

Dr Sarah Legge (10th July, 2pm)


Until recently, our tropical savannas had apparently escaped the broad-scale biodiversity declines that have affected other Australian regions in the time since European colonisation. In the last couple of decades, this complacency view has been exposed as false, with geographically extensive and severe declines reported in key functional groups, notably small mammals, seed-eating birds, and fire sensitive vegetation. Candidate causes of these declines are changed fire patterns, impacts of introduced herbivores, feral cats, invasive weeds, and disease. In this talk, I will describe some of the landscape-scale adaptive management programs carried out over more than a decade by AWC on its sanctuaries in the Kimberley, carried out in an effort to identify the key drivers for decline, and design remedial management. These include experimental manipulations of fire on a regional scale (with fire management delivered across 4 million hectares), removal of introduced herbivores at property scales (with feral horses, donkeys and cattle removed from over 150,000 ha), and pioneering research on the ecology and impacts of feral cats. As well as revealing the mechanisms underpinning declines (and recovery) in threatened taxa, this applied research highlighted the benefits of restorative management on a wide range of other species.

Abstract Submission & Presentation Guidelines

Abstracts can be submitted until 5th June. The deadline closed 22nd May and any abstracts submitted after this will be considered if they can be accommodated in the program. Abstracts submitted prior to 22nd May will be given priority.

Please read the Abstract Submission & Presentation Guidelines for information and requirements.

Student Awards

The Society offers several awards to its students recognising outstanding efforts at the Annual Scientific Meeting.

Award applications close on 22 May 2015. Please contact for any queries.

Adolph Bolliger Award

The Adolph Bolliger Award commemorates Adolph Bolliger (1897-1962), a distinguished Australian mammalogist and founding member of the Society. The award is made for the best spoken presentation by a student at an Annual Meeting of the Society.

Please read the Adolph Boliger Award information and conditions.

A.G. Lyne Award

The A.G. Lyne Award celebrates the life of Gordon Lyne (1919–1986), a long-standing member of the Society and past president.  The award is given to the best poster presentation by a student member at an Annual Scientific Meeting.

Please read the A.G.Lyne Award information and conditions.

Student Travel Award

To facilitate student attendance, the Society has a Student Travel Award Scheme to assist eligible students with transport to and from its Annual Meetings.

Please read the Student Travel Award information and conditions.

John Seebeck Travel Award

The John Seebeck Travel Award is made in recognition of the contribution of long-standing member John Seebeck (1939–2003).  It is awarded to a student member who has received a Travel Award who has presented the best spoken paper or poster at the Annual Scientific Meeting. Note: No application is necessary as only Student Travel Award recipients whom present at the meeting are eligible.

Please read the John Seebeck Travel Award information and conditions.


The postgraduate workshop, scientific meeting and symposium will be held in the School of Biological Sciences at the main Sandy Bay campus of the University of Tasmania.


Groups Tasmania are handling all bookings for the conference including accommodation, making it a one stop shop for delegates attending the conference. Groups Tasmania can also assist attendees with travel arrangements to and from Tasmania on the Spirit of Tasmania or airfares, as well as day tours and pre or post-conference touring options.

Accommodation options listed below can be booked during the registration process. Payment for the rooms will need to be made to Groups Tasmania at the same time as your registration.

All prices are per room per night, room only, with a maximum of two people in a room. They can also find alternative accommodation should the below options not be suitable.

Wrest Point Hotel - 1km or 12 minute walk to the University of Tasmania
Room options:

·   $165.00 Tower rooms (Queen & Single beds)
·   $140.00 Water Edge rooms (Queen & Single beds)
·   $120.00 Mountain Side rooms (Queen & Single beds)

Tourist Information can also be accessed through or

If you would like to speak to a Groups Tasmania Consultant they can be contacted on 03 6344 9909 or email

Social Program

Icebreaker: Monday 6thJuly 2015, 5-8pm

We will kick off the conference with registration, drinks and nibbles at the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science (IMAS) building at Salamanca on the Hobart waterfront. This multiple sustainable-award winning building has a 5 Star Green Star rating and houses multidisciplinary work on temperate marine, Southern Ocean and Antarctic environments. The Icebreaker is in the colonial era Salamanca precinct on the Hobart waterfront where there are many restaurants and bars to move on to.

Where: Institute of Marine and Antarctic Science (IMAS)

Cost: Included in registration

Student Dinner: Tuesday 7th July 2015, 7pm

Calling all postgraduate students! You are invited to the AMS 2015 postgraduate dinner. This will be an opportunity to chat about mammals and more with other students in a relaxed and friendly setting.

Where: The Republic Bar and Café, 299 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart. (20 minutes’ walk from the CBD.)

Cost: $30 to be paid to the venue on the night (TBC), and there will be a cash bar.

Conference Dinner: Wednesday 8th July 2015, 7pm

The conference dinner will be held at the University of Tasmania Staff Club a short walk down the hill from the conference venue. We have kept the cost low and the setting informal to provide a relaxed evening that all can enjoy. “The Pickled Pear” at the Staff Club are the caterers for the entire conference, and they do a good range of modern cuisine.

Where: University of Tasmania Staff Club

Cost: $65/$40 full rate/concession, paid during registration. Drinks can be purchased separately.

Wildlife Excursions, Thursday 9th July 2015, 7pm

Hobart reserves by night
Hobart nestles in the foothills of kunanyi / Mt Wellington and is remarkable for the amount of wildlife living on the edges and in the suburbs, including wallabies and pademelons, brushtail and ringtail possums, potoroos and bettongs, eastern quolls and devils, platypus and water rats. Please join us on a spotlighting expedition in the early evening where we will visit sites where there is a (reasonably!) high likelihood of seeing Tasmanian pademelons and Bennett’s wallabies, eastern barred bandicoots and Tasmanian bettongs (possibly even an eastern quoll). Spotlighting will be in small groups, searching on foot.

When: The tour will leave from the conference venue at 4:15pm, returning to Hobart by 7pm for dinner.

Cost: $40 / $30 per person full rate / concession, which includes transportation and spotlight tour. Booking and payment to be made during registration process.

Bonorong Wildlife Park in the Dark
Enjoy a very personal evening tour at Bonorong, a multi-award winning wildlife sanctuary which focusses on wildlife rehabilitation and conservation. This up-close-and-personal Tasmanian wildlife experience enables you to explore the sanctuary after the gates have closed. Hand feeding and scratching Tasmania’s subspecies of Eastern Grey kangaroos which are now confined to Tasmania’s northeast, is a magic experience and perfect introduction as the sun sets over the valley below. As night settles, meet some of the permanent residents, like Fred, the one-hundred-year-old Sulphur-crested cockatoo, and hear the stories of orphaned wombats and animal’s successful releases back into the wild. Moving through the Sanctuary, meet many of the animals including Tasmanian Bettongs, Eastern and Spotted-tailed quolls, Tawny frogmouths, Sugar gliders and Brushtail possums. The Tasmanian devils really wake up after dark and will be the highlight of the tour as you hear about their fight for survival. By the end of the tour you will gain an understanding of the work Bonorong is undertaking to help protect Tasmania's wildlife at the Sanctuary and in one of Tasmania’s remaining wilderness areas (i.e. the Tarkine).

When: The tour will leave from the conference venue at 4:30pm, returning to Hobart by 7pm for dinner.

Cost: $100 per person, which includes transportation and tour by Bonorong. Booking and payment to be made during registration process.

Conference Tours

Tarkine (Saturday July 11 – Tuesday July 14)

You are invited to attend a post-conference excursion to the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area in the Tarkine in north-west Tasmania ( The reserve contains spectacular costal landscapes, an extraordinary richness of Aboriginal cultural heritage and significant and diverse ecosystems. The Devil Facial Tumor Disease (DFTD) has not yet reached the northwest coast and Tasmanian devils occur in relatively high numbers, as do spotted-tailed quolls. The excursion will be run by Gini Andersen who will provide an inside view of devil and quoll ecology in this area.

We will depart from Hobart on Saturday the 11th of July, and spend three nights at Arthur River, returning to Hobart on the morning of Tuesday 14th July. Sunday and Monday mornings will be spent checking traps for Tasmanian devils and spotted-tailed quolls. Afternoon activities will involve exploring the area. Accommodation will be in cabins or houses. Meals will be provided from Saturday dinner to Tuesday breakfast, inclusive. The field trip is restricted to a maximum of 12 people.

Cost: $780 per person, which includes transportation, food and accommodation. Booking and payment to be made during registration process.

Maria Island National Park (Saturday July 11 – Monday July 13)

You are invited to attend a post-conference fieldtrip to Maria Island National park off the east coast of Tasmania ( This island national park includes a diverse range of habitats, from clearings around the original convict penitentiary to coastal vegetation and beaches, dry and wet eucalypt forests, and stunted rainforest on the mountain tops. There are excellent opportunities to observe abundant wildlife, particularly: Tasmanian pademelons, Bennett’s wallabies, common wombats and Forester kangaroos. Tasmanian devils have been introduced to the island as a conservation measure. Activities will include mammal and bird viewing and short to more difficult walks. The excursion will be run by Vince Scoleri, who is researching the ecology of feral cats on the island.

This fieldtrip will depart from Hobart early to catch the morning ferry to Maria Island on Sat July 11, spend two nights on Maria Island, and return to Hobart on the afternoon ferry on Monday July 13. The fieldtrip is restricted to a maximum of 20 guests. Accommodation will be in bunk rooms in the old convict penitentiary (own sleeping bag needed). Basic meals will be provided for Saturday night through to Monday lunch. A campground and cooking facilities are available to those who would like additional options.

Cost: $570 per person, which includes transportation, food and accommodation. Booking and payment to be made during registration process.

Narawntapu National Park (Saturday July 11 – Monday July 13)

You are invited to attend a post-conference fieldtrip to Narawntapu National Park on the north coast of Tasmania ( Narawntapu is situated on a historic farm adjacent to Bakers beach, and includes excellent opportunities to observe abundant wildlife, particularly: Tasmanian pademelons, Bennett’s wallabies, common wombats and Forester kangaroos. The National Park has a mixture of hiking and bird watching opportunities. The fieldtrip will be run by Dr Scott Carver, who will also bring along his thermal imaging camera to provide additional benefits to attendees.

This fieldtrip will depart from Hobart at 9am on Sat July 11, spend two nights at Narawntapu, and return to Hobart by approximately 5pm on Monday July 13. The fieldtrip is restricted to a maximum of 10 attendees, although it may accommodate up to 15 if some people would like to camp. You will have the option of basic shared accommodation in on-sites houses (own sleeping bag needed) or camping (own camping equipment needed). Basic meals will be provided for Saturday night through to Monday lunch, and cooking facilities are available to those who would like additional options.

Cost: $140 per person, which includes transportation, food and accommodation. Booking and payment to be made during registration process.