About me

I’m a research fellow in the Quantitative and Applied Ecology Group in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne. My work focuses on how climate and habitat features interact with species traits to influence where they can live. I’m particularly interested in understanding how the behaviour, morphology and physiology of animals influences their sensitivity to climate, and methods for making more robust predictions of how species are likely to be influenced by future climate change.

My PhD research focused on how climate influences koalas – and I’ve continued to work on this charismatic and rather ideal study species. I spent a lot of time radio-tracking koalas in Victoria and north Queensland to try and understand how they use behaviour to buffer themselves against climate extremes. I’ve also spent hours measuring koala specimens in museums across Australia to quantify geographic  variation in traits such as body size and fur depth that influence heat exchange. I used these data to develop a mechanistic model that predicts energy and water requirements of koalas under different environmental conditions. We’re now using this model to predict how koalas will be affected by climate change and identify where they are most likely to persist in the future.

I’ve recently taken up a position with the NESP Threatened Species Recovery Hub focused on identifying refuges for threatened species and improving our understanding of how to manage them. As part of this project we’ll be modelling how climate and habitat features constrain invasive species such as cats to try and identify when and where to target management, as well as investigating how weather and wetland characteristics influence the impact of chytrid fungus on threatened frog species.

Night time koala catching for a study that measured koala energy and water use in northern Queensland. Photo: Sarah Kerr

Contact: nbriscoe@unimelb.edu.au

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