Robert A. Davis

Robert A. Davis
Edith Cowan University · School of Science

PhD (University of Western Australia)

About

68
Publications
25,417
Reads
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913
Citations
Introduction
I am a conservation biologist working on applied solutions to ongoing biodiversity loss. I focus on disturbance ecology spanning a range of projects from the impacts of fire on vertebrates to introduced predators and island ecology. I have taxon-specific expertise in birds and frogs.
Additional affiliations
January 2016 - present
Edith Cowan University
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
January 2009 - December 2015
Edith Cowan University
Position
  • Lecturer in Vertebrate Biology
January 2007 - December 2008
University of Western Australia
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
February 1999 - February 2005
University of Western Australia
Field of study
  • Zoology (Amphibian Ecology and Conservation)
February 1994 - December 1997
Murdoch University
Field of study
  • Biology/Environmental Science (double degree) with Honours (1st)

Publications

Publications (68)
Preprint
Full-text available
The impacts of anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) on non-target wildlife have been well documented in Europe and North America. While these studies are informative, patterns of non-target poisoning of wildlife elsewhere in the world may differ substantially from patterns occurring in Australia and other countries outside of cool temperate regions due...
Article
Anticoagulant rodenticides (ARs) are regularly used around the world to control pest mammals. Second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) are highly persistent in biological tissue and have a high potential for bioaccumulation and biomagnification. Consequently, exposure and poisoning of non-target organisms has been frequently documented,...
Article
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Invasive predators have decimated island biodiversity worldwide. Rats ( Rattus spp.) are perhaps the greatest conservation threat to island fauna. The ground nesting Palau Micronesian Scrubfowl Megapodius laperouse senex (Megapodiidae) inhabits many of the islands of Palau’s Rock Island Southern Lagoon Conservation Area (RISL) in the western Pacifi...
Article
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Malformations of vertebrae potentially occur across many taxa, particularly in Testudines, which are susceptible to kyphosis (dorsoventral curvature of the spine). Such malformations may stem from either genetic or environmental origins, and their prevalence and associated impacts on survival remain poorly understood. However, scoliosis (sideways c...
Article
Translocations to closed systems such as fenced reserves are commonly used for conservation of threatened fauna species worldwide; however, resources are limited in these areas, and natural processes that regulate populations in response to resource availability are unable to occur. This can result in overabundance followed by overuse of resources,...
Article
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The behaviour of pollinators has important consequences for plant mating. Nectar-feeding birds often display behaviour that results in more pollen carryover than insect pollinators, which is predicted to result in frequent outcrossing and high paternal diversity for bird-pollinated plants. We tested this prediction by quantifying mating system para...
Article
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Semi-arid landscapes are of interest to fire ecologists because they are generally located in the climatic transition zone between arid lands (where fires tend to be rare due to lack of fuel, but are enhanced following large rainfall episodes) and more mesic regions (where fire activity tends to be enhanced following severe rainfall deficits). Here...
Article
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The rapid expansion of urban areas worldwide is leading to native habitat loss and ecosystem fragmentation and degradation. Although the study of urbanisation’s impact on biodiversity is gaining increasing interest globally, there is still a disconnect between research recommendations and urbanisation strategies. Expansion of the Perth metropolitan...
Article
The rapid expansion of urban areas worldwide is leading to native habitat loss and ecosystem fragmentation and degradation. Although the study of urbanisation's impact on biodiversity is gaining increasing interest globally, there is still a disconnect between research recommendations and urbanisation strategies. Expansion of the Perth metropolitan...
Article
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Characterizing patterns of habitat use is an important first step for effective conservation planning. Species restricted to low-lying islands are at greatest risk from climate change-related sea level rise, and requirements for breeding and foraging habitat may determine their risk from tidal inundation. The endangered Micronesian Scrubfowl (Megap...
Article
In Australia, Toxoplasma gondii is an introduced parasite with a wide host range. House cats (Felis catus) are one of its definitive hosts. Little is known about T. gondii infection rates in Australian wildlife. Since cat abundance varies with landscape composition, we hypothesised that T. gondii infection would be more prevalent in urban and agric...
Article
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Aim: Identifying the variables that influence animal home range size is important for understanding the biological requirements of individuals and their social interactions. Given their often broad distributions, carnivores are model organisms for studying range-wide determinants of home range size. Here, we test predictions about en- vironmental d...
Article
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Reductions in genetic diversity and genetic connectivity have been documented in some predatory bird species in response to anthropogenic habitat fragmentation. The Southern Boobook (Ninox boobook) is the most common and widely-distributed owl in Australia but declines in abundance have been observed across its range. We used polymorphic microsatel...
Article
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In the wheat and sheep farming country of WA’s Wheatbelt, a noisy little frog is defying the odds and providing a soundtrack to the night from small, isolated temporary ponds made possible by autumn rains.
Article
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Understanding the spatial requirements of a species allows one to tailor actions that can help protect species and their habitats. We investigated the spatial needs of the endangered northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) in the Pilbara. We analysed field data based on GPS-telemetry or a combination of GPS and VHF telemetry for 11 northern quolls wit...
Article
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Translocation of species to areas of former habitat after threats have been mitigated is a common conservation action. However, the long-term success of reintroduction relies on identification of currently available habitat and areas that will remain, or become, habitat in the future. Commonly, a short-term view is taken, focusing on obvious and as...
Article
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Amphibians are the most threatened class of vertebrate in the world. Although a number of causes of the amphibian decline phenomenon are emerging, there is a need for robust demographic data to be able to monitor current and future threats such as climate change. Despite this, few studies on amphibians have the life-history data available to undert...
Article
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Context: Resource subsidisation as a result of urbanisation and other human activity can have positive impacts for some opportunistic predators. Many species of corvid have benefitted from the expansion of human-dominated habitats; however, their impacts on co-occurring prey fauna are generally poorly understood. Aims: We aimed to test the hypothes...
Technical Report
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Addressing the plight of our threatened species and managing them within the context of a changing landscape and with limited resources has become increasingly challenging for conservation managers, forcing a triage philosophy into the development and delivery of biodiversity conservation projects [18]. This has resulted in a landscape of winners a...
Article
The recent capture and removal to captivity of the first Nicobar Pigeon in Australia on the basis of biosecurity concerns, provides a compelling opportunity to examine how we manage species that naturally disperse to new territories. With the spectre of increasing climate change there is an increasing recognition of the need for species to expand o...
Article
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Motivation: The BioTIME database contains raw data on species identities and abundances in ecological assemblages through time. These data enable users to calculate temporal trends in biodiversity within and amongst assemblages using a broad range of metrics. BioTIME is being developed as a community-led open-source database of biodiversity time se...
Article
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Aspects of species life histories may increase their susceptibility to climate change. Owing to their exclusive reliance on environmental sources of heat for incubation, megapodes may be especially vulnerable. We employed a trait-based vulnerability assessment to weigh their exposure to projected climate variables of increasing temperatures, fluctu...
Poster
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Once relatively common throughout much of south-western Australia, the ground dwelling western ground parrot, Pezoporus flaviventris, has declined to one small known population, estimated to number less than 150 individuals, and is listed as critically endangered under IUCN criteria. Major reasons for this decline include changed fire regimes, pred...
Article
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Amelanistic reptiles are characterised by an absence of the black-brown pigment melanin from their skin (Bechtel, 1995). This is distinct from the more commonly reported trait albinism, where melanin is absent from all tissues including the eyes and internal organs (Bechtel, 1995). Unlike mammals, where melanin is the only pigment produced and indi...
Article
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Changes in fire frequency, extent, and intensity mean that understanding the effects of fire on plants and animals is a primary concern for ecologists and land managers. Given the potentially conflicting fire responses of species both within and across taxonomic groups, prescribing fire regimes based on the response of one or only a few species may...
Article
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New Britain in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea supports 14 endemic bird species and together with New Ireland, forms an Endemic Bird Area that supports 38 restricted range species. Extensive conversion of lowland forest to oil palm plantations resulted in the loss of over 20% of forest under 100 m altitude between 1989 and 2000. Howeve...
Article
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Wild goose chase, snipe hunt, fool's errand—these retorts typify responses of many biologists to news that someone is searching for a species considered extinct. Although these ventures can damage reputations and may offer false hope regarding the finality of extinction, genuine conservation gains often result, even for those quests that prove unsu...
Article
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Abstract The management of populations of threatened species requires the capacity to identify areas of high habitat value. We developed a high resolution species distribution model (SDM) for the endangered Pilbara northern quoll Dasyurus hallucatus, population using MaxEnt software and a combined suite of bioclimatic and landscape variables. Once...
Article
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Landscape-level wildfires have a major role in structuring faunal assemblages, particularly in fire-prone landscapes. These effects are mediated by changes to vegetation structure and composition that directly influence the availability of shelter, feeding and breeding resources. We investigated the response of a semi-arid shrubland bird community...
Article
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The impact of habitat fragmentation on arboreal mammals is poorly understood and potentially greater than for ground-dwelling mammals. We investigated the influence of landscape fragmentation on a generalist arboreal marsupial, the koomal (Trichosurus vulpecula hypoleucus), a geographically isolated subspecies of the common brushtail possum endemic...
Article
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Spatial modelling is increasingly being embraced by conservation practitioners and community groups to guide natural-asset management. Despite this boom in popularity, little guidance is often available on choosing the most applicable technique, and the relative merits and drawbacks of each approach. We present a case study in the biodiversity hots...
Article
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Species distribution models (SDMs) are an effective way of predicting the potential distribution of species and their response to environmental change. Most SDMs apply presence data to a relatively generic set of predictive variables such as climate. However, this weakens the modelling process by overlooking the responses to more cryptic predictive...
Article
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The Pilbara population of the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) has been seldom studied, and the impacts of threats such as altered fire regimes, total grazing pressure, predation and mining and infrastructure development are not well understood. While the Pilbara was once thought likely to provide refuge for northern quolls from the poisonous c...
Article
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Populations in fragmented urban remnants may be at risk of genetic erosion as a result of reduced gene flow and elevated levels of inbreeding. This may have serious genetic implications for the long-term viability of remnant populations, in addition to the more immediate pressures caused by urbanisation. The population genetic structure of the gene...
Article
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Here we present a knowledge-data framework based on the politico-military statement by Donald Rumsfeld (below) which has, we believe, direct relevance to ecological conservation. Ecological examples of four of the identified categories are provided with discussion of the conservation risks to a species through knowledge or data loss and movement th...
Article
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Reptiles in urban remnants are threatened with extinction by increased fire frequency, habitat fragmentation caused by urban development, and competition and predation from exotic species. Understanding how urban reptiles respond to and recover from such disturbances is key to their conservation. We monitored the recovery of an urban reptile commun...
Article
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Reducing the impacts of feral cats (Felis catus) is a priority for conservation managers across the globe, and success in achieving this aim requires a detailed understanding of the species’ ecology across a broad spectrum of climatic and environmental conditions. We reviewed the diet of the feral cat across Australia and on Australian territorial...
Article
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We investigated the influence of vegetation structure and fire history on the foraging behaviour of small rodents (Notomys mitchellii, Pseudomys hermannsburgensis and Mus musculus) by conducting giving-up density (GUD) experiments in recently burnt (9 to 13 years since last fire) and long unburnt shrublands (>40 years), and open and sheltered micro...
Article
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Fire plays a strong role in structuring fauna communities and the habitat available to them in fire-prone regions. Human-mediated increases in fire frequency and intensity threaten many animal species and understanding how these species respond to fire history and its associated impact on vegetation is essential to effective biodiversity management...
Article
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Feral cats (Felis catus) have a wide global distribution and cause significant damage to native fauna. Reducing their impacts requires an understanding of how they use habitat and which parts of the landscape should be the focus of management. We reviewed 27 experimental and observational studies conducted around the world over the last 35 years th...
Article
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The ngwayir (western ringtail possum Pseudocheirus occidentalis) is an arboreal species endemic to south-western Australia. The range and population of this species have been significantly reduced through multiple anthropogenic impacts. Classified as vulnerable, the ngwayir is highly susceptible to extremes of temperature and reduced water intake....
Article
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Invasive plant pathogens have impacted forest and woodland systems globally and can negatively impact biodiversity. The soil-borne plant pathogen Phytophthora cinnamomi is listed as one of the world’s worst invasive species and alters plant community composition and habitat structure. Few studies have examined how these Phytophthora-induced habitat...
Article
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Urban development either eliminates, or severely fragments, native vegetation, and therefore alters the distribution and abundance of species that depend on it for habitat. We assessed the impact of urban development on bird communities at 121 sites in and around Perth, Western Australia. Based on data from community surveys, at least 83 % of 65 la...
Article
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Birds in urban landscapes must contend with fragmented and degraded remnants of native vegetation and their survival may be dependent on factors such as their ability to disperse through and/or utilize the urban matrix. We examined the frequency of occurrence of birds in native bushland in Kings Park, Perth, Western Australia, and in nine adjacent...
Article
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A number of surveys have been undertaken to determine Lake MacLeod’s significance for shorebirds (also called waders). Given the recent global declines in shorebird populations, a current understanding of the significance of Lake MacLeod to shorebirds is timely. We review all survey data in the context of the following criteria: presence of signifi...
Article
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Agricultural areas are characterized by the replacement of native vegetation with plant crops or forage species. These create radically modified habitats for anurans, but in some areas frogs persist despite these changes. We undertook a three-year mark–recapture study of five breeding populations of the burrowing frog Heleioporus albopunctatus in t...
Article
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Intraspecific variation in acoustic signals may reflect local variation in the intensity of natural and sexual selection and random drift. We examined intraspecific variation in the advertisement call of Spicospina flammocaerulea, a southwestern Australian frog species with a limited distribution, fragmented range, small population sizes, and speci...
Article
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A critical component of amphibian life history relates to understanding the role of embryonic mortality in regulating recruitment and, therefore, population size. We examined the predictions that small populations have higher embryonic mortality and reduced clutch sizes in the Western Australian frog, Heleioporus albopunctatus. Embryonic mortality...
Article
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The Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is an enigmatic species thought possibly to be extinct until the recent recoveries of two dead specimens from Queensland. The type specimen and many early sightings, however, came from Western Australia. We describe a new sighting of the Night Parrot from the Pilbara region of Western Australia, on 12 April...
Article
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Recent Western Australian records of the Elegant Parrot from as far north as the Pilbara are consistent with the suggestion that the species is a seasonal visitor to arid areas. While it was previously thought to be an autumn visitor, current data show that it is present in the region in both autumn and winter. The species does appear to be increas...
Article
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We describe new significant southwards range extensions for two species of reptile on the Swan Coastal Plain of Perth, Western Australia.
Article
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Habitat loss and degradation that comes as a result of human activity is the single biggest threat to biodiversity in the world today. "Habitat Fragmentation and Landscape Change" is a groundbreaking work that brings together a wealth of information from a wide range of sources to define the ecological problems caused by landscape change and to hig...
Article
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We report a significant range extension for two Lerista species on the Swan Coastal Plain.
Article
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We report on the genetic structuring of populations of a large burrowing frog, Heleioporus albopunctatus, from the central wheatbelt of Western Australia. This region has been highly fragmented by vegetation clearance for agriculture since the early 1900s. Genetic variation at four variable loci in twenty-two populations was analysed using cellulos...
Article
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Matings involving two or more males and a single female (polyandry) are now widely reported in frogs. Polyandry may occur when the sex ratio at breeding sites (the operational sex ratio, OSR) is heavily biased towards males. We report here variation in OSR and the occurrence of polyandrous groupings in the frog, Neobatrachus kunapalari. When the OS...
Article
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Abstract The eggs of the burrow-nesting frogs Heleioporus albopunctatus Gray and H. eyrei Gray are predated by the larvae and females of the scuttle fly Aphiura breviceps. The morphology of the female fly and natural history of the species (adult and larva) are described for the first time.

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