Valentina S.A. Mella

Valentina S.A. Mella
The University of Sydney · Faculty of Veterinary Science

PhD

About

44
Publications
9,249
Reads
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407
Citations
Citations since 2016
34 Research Items
360 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
2016201720182019202020212022020406080
Introduction
My interests and expertise are primarily in wildlife ecology, animal behaviour, fauna management and conservation. My PhD investigated the role of personality in the foraging decisions of mammalian generalist herbivores, in particular in the trade-off between food chemical defences and fear of predation. My Masters investigated the physiological and behavioural responses of Australian and exotic prey to the odour of native and introduced predators.
Additional affiliations
April 2014 - present
The University of Sydney
Position
  • PostDoc Position
September 2010 - present
The University of Sydney
Position
  • casual academic

Publications

Publications (44)
Article
Context: It is notoriously difficult to estimate the size of animal populations, especially for cryptic or threatened species that occur in low numbers. Recent advances with acoustic sensors make the detection of animal populations cost effective when coupled with software that can recognise species-specific calls. Aims: We assess the potential fo...
Article
Full-text available
Research on use of foraging patches has focused on why herbivores visit or quit patches, yet little is known about visits to patches over time. Food quality, as reflected by higher nutritional quality and lower plant defenses, and physical patch characteristics, which offer protection from predators and weather, affect patch use and hence should in...
Article
Full-text available
Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators rescue and rehabilitate thousands of native animals every year in Australia. However, there is little known about how exposure to novel stimuli during rehabilitation could affect the physiology of wildlife. We investigated this question in a species that commonly enters rehabilitation, the common brushtail possum (...
Article
Full-text available
Cryptococcosis caused by yeasts of the Cryptococcus gattii species complex is an increasingly important mycological disease in humans and other mammals. In Australia, cases of C. gattii-related cryptococcosis are more prevalent in the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) compared to humans and other animals, likely due to the close association that both...
Article
Context Providing wildlife with supplementary water is a conservation technique that offers an immediate positive impact to animals. However, the potential negative impacts should be assessed. Aims We aimed to assess the potential negative effects of water stations on visiting wildlife due to the risk of predation and disease transmission. Methods...
Article
Full-text available
All animals need water to live, but not all of them need to drink it from their surroundings. Drinking free water from rivers or puddles is just one of many ways that animals get the water they need. Until recently, koalas were thought to get most of their water from the leaves that they eat. But, after years of koala watchers getting caught in the...
Article
Full-text available
Context. Precise and accurate estimates of animal numbers are often essential for population and epidemiological models, as well as for guidance for population management and conservation. This is particularly true for threatened species in landscapes facing multiple threats. Estimates can be derived by different methods, but the question remains a...
Article
Full-text available
Habitat fragmentation changes landscape patterns and can disrupt many important ecological processes. Movement allows individuals to find resource patches to maintain their fitness and habitat fragmentation can disrupt this process. We explored the ecological impact of habitat fragmentation on movement and space use of a specialist folivore, the ko...
Article
The capture of free-ranging individuals is often needed for research, population management and health assessment. Because of its iconic and threatened species status, methods to capture koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) receive disproportionate scrutiny. We collated data on koala capture frequency, duration held by noose and incidents from six studi...
Article
Koalas are thought to have little need to drink because they gain the majority of the water that they require to survive from the water content in the leaves that they feed on. In this manuscript, we expand beyond the handful of incidental observations of koala drinking reported in the literature and describe natural koala drinking behaviour in the...
Article
Full-text available
Arboreal folivores are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of extreme climate change-driven heatwaves and droughts as they rely on leaf moisture to maintain hydration. During these increasingly frequent and intense weather events, leaf water content may not be enough to meet their moisture requirements, potentially leading to large-scale mortali...
Article
Chlamydiosis, caused by Chlamydia pecorum, is regarded as an important threat to koala populations. Across the koala’s geographical range, disease severity associated with C. pecorum infection varies, with pathogen diversity and strain pathogenicity being likely important factors. To examine C. pecorum diversity on a sub-population level a Multi-Lo...
Article
Full-text available
Cryptococcosis, caused by environmental fungi in the Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii species complexes, affects a variety of hosts, including koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus). Cryptococcal antigenemia and nasal colonization are well characterized in captive koalas, but free-ranging populations have not been studied systematically. Fr...
Article
1.Foraging is a three‐stage process during which animals visit patches, consume food and quit. Foraging theory exploring relative patch quality has mostly focused on patch use and quitting decisions, ignoring the first crucial step for any forager: finding food. Yet, the decision to visit a patch is just as important as the decision to quit, as qui...
Article
We document the first evidence of tree climbing by red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Australia. Camera traps recorded foxes in trees on the Liverpool Plains, New South Wales. This finding prompts a reassessment of the impact that this invasive predator has on Australian fauna: from purely terrestrial to also potentially arboreal.
Chapter
Foraging animals face a constant dilemma—balancing the need to acquire food without putting themselves at risk. Individuals within a population vary in personality, and as a consequence they differ in how they perceive, interpret, and respond to foraging choices. Despite the inherent necessity for animals to acquire food, and thus direct link to fi...
Article
Context There is growing recognition of the importance of animal personality in wildlife ecology and management. Individuals that differ consistently in their behaviours from others of the same population are considered to exhibit different personalities. Personality can be easily quantified with repeat tests on animals held in captivity. However,...
Article
Prey can enhance their survival by eliciting an appropriate response to predators. Theoretically, prey should distinguish odors of predators and nonpredators. The manifestation of defensive antipredator behaviors has been extensively researched in domestic species (i.e., the relationship between laboratory-bred rats and domestic cats). However, lit...
Article
Full-text available
Predator odors can elicit fear responses in prey and predator odor recognition is generally associated with physiological responses. Prey species are often more likely to respond to the odor of familiar rather than alien predators. However, predator naïvety in an introduced prey species has rarely been investigated. We examined the physiological re...
Article
Full-text available
Predators attack and plants defend, so herbivores face the dilemma of how to eat enough without being eaten. But do differences in the personality of herbivores affect the foraging choices of individuals? We explored the ecological impact of personality in a generalist herbivore, the brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula). After quantifying perso...
Article
Herbivores live in a landscape of fear and must incorporate danger in their foraging decisions, balancing their need of food and safety using a variety of cues to assess the risk of predation. These cues can either be direct (i.e. signalling the possible presence of a predator) or indirect (i.e. linked to the likelihood of encountering a predator)....
Article
Predation risk influences foraging decisions and time allocation of prey species, and may result in habitat shifts from potentially dangerous to safer areas. We examined a wild population of western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) to test the efficacy of predator faecal odour in influencing time allocated to different behaviours and inducing...
Article
Full-text available
The giving-up density (GUD) framework provides a powerful experimental approach with a strong theoretical underpinning to quantify foraging outcomes in heterogeneous landscapes. Since its inception, the GUD approach has been applied successfully to a vast range of foraging species and foraging scenarios. However, its application is not simple, as a...
Poster
Full-text available
The Giving Up Density (GUD) framework provides a powerful experimental approach, with strong theoretical underpinning, for quantifying foraging outcomes in heterogeneous landscapes. Since its inception, GUD has been applied successfully to a vast range of foraging species and foraging scenarios. Commonly, but not exclusively, it has been used to qu...
Presentation
Full-text available
The Giving Up Density (GUD) framework provides a powerful experimental approach, with strong theoretical underpinning, for quantifying foraging outcomes in heterogeneous landscapes. Since its inception, GUD has been applied successfully to a vast range of foraging species and foraging scenarios. Commonly, but not exclusively, it has been used to qu...
Article
This study uses changes in ventilatory frequency to quantify the physiological response of an Australian terrestrial herbivore, the tammar wallaby (Macropus eugenii), to olfactory cues suggesting the presence of potential predators. Ventilatory frequency proved to be a quantifiable measure to assess the response of this macropod marsupial to olfact...
Article
Predators cause changes in the behaviour of many prey species. This study investigated whether trappability of wild southern brown bandicoots (Isoodon obesulus) and common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) was influenced by odour cues suggesting the presence of potential predators. Trapping success was compared between traps with predator s...

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