April 2022 - New ECL Paper in Ecology & Evolution on banded civet ecology and conservation [pdf link]
Feb 2022 - Welcome to the ECL postdoc Tom Bruce! [link]
Jan 2022 - New ECL Paper in J of Animal Ecology on palm civet conservation & zoonotic disease [pdf link]
• UQ Honours students Sam Lee and Chervil Ho
Nov 2021 - In the news: The Conversation covers how Borneo's ancient hunting traditions are changing [link]
APPLY: Another new postdoc opportunity with Drs Luskin and David Wardle to study impacts of wild boar recolonization in Singapore [link]
Sept 2021 - New Paper in Forests & People on Borneo's hunters [pdf link] & news by The Californian [link]
• Collaboration with Dave Kurz & UC Berkeley profs Justin Brashares & Matthew Potts
New Paper in BioScience on oil palm & deforestation [pdf link] with news coverage in Mongabay [link]
• Collaboration with BBF Prof Chris Golden at Harvard
August 2021 - ECL receives $33K grant from GBIF to support data mobilisation [link]
• Adding camera trapping into global occurrence datasets with new ECL postdoc Dr Arjun Thrapa
July 2021 - In the news: The New York Times investigates Sumatran forest conservation
• references ECL work with WCS on tigers & deforestation [article & podcast link]
In the news: African Swine Fever threatens conservation, a joint statement by FAO, IUCN, & OIE
• Creating an Australian collaborative camera trapping network to improve wildlife conservation
+ Matthew & Zach present at the Indonesia Council Open Conference [link] (Predators & hunting in Indonesia)
Welcome to the ECL winter interns: Adriana Santivanezolazo, Aishwarya Bhandari, Arata Honda, Callum Waite, Ella McAlister, Elliot Carr, Maria Belen Font, Moses Pillay, & Tylah Mills
May 2021 - ECL collaborator on NASA grant on Congo's megafauna seed dispersers!
April 2021 - New Paper in Nature Communications on impacts of seed predators are compensatory, not additive, with major implications on the cascading impacts from defaunation [pdf link]
+ Welcome postdocs Dr Adia Sovie [link], Dr Dipanjan Nala [link] & PhD student Bastien Dehaudt! [link]
Jan 2021 - New Paper in Conservation Letters: African Swine Fever threatens 11 Asian pigs [pdf link]
• In the news: media coverage by Mongabay + others [link]
Welcome ECL summer interns: Harsh Pahuja, Victor Yiqian Li, Emma Valette, Carolina Zulueta, Thaung Ret, Alexander Hendry, Lindsey Arnold, Gary Young, Bora Aska, Jeffrey Lau, Xiaohan Liu, Lin Gan, Jessica Morrison, Abigail Rose Natusch, Tamzin Barber, "Niel" Nguyen Tran
• Fellowship winners: Henri Decoeur, Samuel Lee Tham, Ashlea Dunn, & Ilyas Nursamsi
Nov 2020 - ECL awarded $430K grant! (ARC DECRA to Matthew)
• title: "Ecological cascades in Queensland rainforests" + funding 2 PhD students - please apply [link]
October 2020 - Matthew gives the Smithsonian ForestGEO Seminar (watch link, passcode: gHFh$0a! )
June -September 2020 - Welcome postdocs Dr Calebe Mendes [link] & Dr Therese Lamperty [link]!
• Welcome PhD student Zach Amir, MSc Francis Chicas & honours Courtney Mueller!
May 2020 - ECL awarded $500K grant for partnership w/ NParks-NTU & Prof David Wardle
• Study of wild boar recolonization in Singapore + welcome researcher Shane (Wen Xuan) Chiok!
March 2020 - In the news: Matthew writes Jakarta Post article on African Swine Fever [link]
2018 - New Paper in PNAS on global impacts of herbivores and plants (pdf link) & media coverage [link]
How is rainforest biodiversity generated, maintained and eroded?
The ECL strives to understand the key mechanisms that structure food webs. Disturbances can alter important regulating mechanisms that keep ecosystems in a dynamic equilibrium. Many places, the loss of one species such an apex predator can cause food webs to disassemble and ecosystems to collapse. For example, in some places, the poaching of wolves or tigers eliminates predation control of herbivore populations and triggers cascading impacts on the vegetation. In other locations, the loss of predators produces negligible cascading impacts.
The ECL wants to understand why.
Basic research on how food webs are governed has applied uses in conservation. For protected areas and parks to maintain high diversity over the long term, we must identify and protect the key mechanism structuring those ecosystems. Thus, while the ECL focuses on conducting fundamental research, our findings will play a crucial role in maintaining healthy plant and animal communities in the coming decades.
Apex predators are crucial to regulating the populations of large herbivores in some ecosystems. This tiger was photographed as part of our work in Sumatra, which experienced the highest deforestation rates globally from 2000-2015. Area-demanding apex predators are now at severe risk of extinction. Our estimates of this critically endangered species population (618 tigers) and home range (200-400 km2) now guide Indonesia’s conservation program (Luskin et al. 2017a).
Our follow up work examines tigers' importance for maintaining healthy food webs. We do this by comparing the food web structure in a dozen forests in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, some which have lost tigers.
Where we work
The Ecological Cascades Lab conducts wildlife sampling in Southeast Asia