Ellie Kirke

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Ellie recently graduated from the University of Queensland, with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) majoring in Ecology and Zoology. Her honours project involved working with the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) on Groote Eylandt, located in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This unique island is one of the few safe havens for these endangered animals, mainly due to the lack of cane toads and continuation of traditional fire regimes. Here, she studied the interplay between performance, morphology and habitat by looking at how different aspects of performance (i.e. agility, jumping, sprinting, accelerating, climbing and grasping) varied intraspecifically between two habitat types; rocky outcrops and open sclerophyll forest. Her findings suggested that some aspects of female performance were optimised in particular habitats (e.g. sprint speed was greater in open habitat), but that morphology was not the cause of variation. This is the first mammalian study to look at performance, morphology and habitat in concert, and was a great introduction into the field of research science.

Ellie’s passion for animals and the environment has also taken her to South Africa, where she volunteered as a research assistant translocating white lions from a hunting facility to a safe farm. Working so closely with such an amazing animal was an unforgettable experience, and she hopes to have many more moments like that throughout her life.

During her internship at the Cape Otway Ecology Centre, Ellie hopes to gain more experience in ecological surveying, fire and land management and active conservation methods. She strongly believes that wildlife conservation is of the utmost importance in the face of feral predators, climate change and population growth, and is excited to work alongside ecologists at the CEC that are so passionate and driven.