The University of Queensland 

School of Biological sciences

(Brisbane, Australia) 

  Now open
2 ECL postdocs to be co-funded with conservation NGOs and UQ CBCS 

  • Will focus on Australian camera trap data collation, analysis & synthesis


ECL News:


UPCOMING - new funding for 2 postdocs with the ECL to establish a Wildlife Observatory! 

    • partnership with UQ Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science [link]

    • focus on providing camera trap data analysis and synthesis for Australia

  In the news: Matthew writes for The Conversation: how Borneo's ancient hunting traditions are changing [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 linkwith news coverage in Mongabay [link]

       • Outcome from SNAPP working group in Santa Baraba with Kim Carlson & Robert Heilmayr

  New Paper in Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, & Systematics [pdf link]

       • Outcome from NTU-ForestGEO workshop & Prof David Wardle on Tropical Invasions 

   New Paper in Animal Conservation on tenrec hunting in Madagascar [pdf 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

     • Based on ECL research paper [link], with a new press release [link]

June 2021 - Matthew gives CForBio seminar - "Chinese Forest Biodiversity Monitoring Network" [link]

         • Large wildlife & conspecific negative density dependence

   + Matthew gives JCU-Cairns TESS seminar hosted by Bill Laurance [Watch the video link]

     • 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!

        • Partnership with Prof Tom Smith & Elsa Ordway at UCLA Congo Basin Institute [link]

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]

March 2021 - New Paper in Proceeding Royal Society-B  on how megafauna alter tree diversity [link]

    • In the news: media coverage of PRSB paper in The Independent + others [link1] [link2]

Feb 2021 - New Paper in Ecology LettersWhen do Janzen-Connell effects matter? [link]

      Welcome postdocs Dr Adia Sovie [link], Dr Dipanjan Nala [linkPhD 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]

       Matthew gives SCB Emerging Issues Seminar [Watch here link]     

Dec 2020 - New Paper in Biological Conservation: outcomes of the SI-ForestGEO network [pdf 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 2020Matthew 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]

2019 - New Paper in J of Applied Ecology on how wildlife supports lianas over trees [link]

2018 - New Paper in PNAS on global impacts of herbivores and plants (pdf link) & media coverage [link]

2017 - Two New Papers in Nature Communications... 

    • Sumatran tiger conservation [pdf link] + coverage on NYTimes & National Geographic [link]

    • Oil palm (food subsidies) to wildlife degrade forests [pdf link+media National Geographic [link]


How is rainforest biodiversity generated, maintained and eroded?


Our mission

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.

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Where we work

The Ecological Cascades Lab conducts wildlife sampling in Southeast Asia

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Matthew Luskin