Simpson trip volunteering September 2-23

Long-nosed dragon, Amphibolurus longirostris. Photo: David Nelson

Long-nosed dragon, Amphibolurus longirostris. Photo: David Nelson

The DERG RatCatchers are gearing up for our next field trip to the red playground that is the Simpson Desert in Central Australia.

‘Tis spring in the air.

Big trip, 2 field crews, 2 desert vehicles, limited volunteer spots. Check out out Facebook page

Shoot your expressions of interest to Chin-Liang, and please feel free to spread the good word far and wide for the RatCatchers.

Simpson trip volunteering 19 June – 10 July

Flock Bronzewings

Flock Bronzewings in the Channel Country

The RatCatchers are gearing up for their first winter trip of 2014 to the Simpson Desert. Dates are June 19- 10 July inclusive. Limited volunteer spots in two vehicles.

Do spread the good word for me amongst your networks.

Expressions of interest to

A new way to get your research funded

NutNet. Photo: Rob Salguero-Gomez

NutNet. Photo: Rob Salguero-Gomez

Research Bites – the University of Sydney Researcher Talks Series – is a monthly forum hosted by the University’s Research Development team in which researchers get to talk about their research work These talks are interesting as well as informative to an audience drawn from the University’s staff and students as well as the general public.  They are bit like a mini version of the ABC Catalyst program and TED Talks.

Glenda Wardle is speaking at the 17/04/2014 session at 1:00 in the Charles Perkins Centre Auditorium on A new way to get your research funded.

Glenda will describe an approach used in the Nutrient Network (NutNet,, a globally distributed experimental network that arose from a grassroots, cooperative research effort.

It would be really great if you could come along and hear my talk.

For more information, see the Research Bites webpage: RESEARCH BITES – The Sydney Researcher Talks Series

Volunteers required for April 2014 Trip

The crew. From left: Jish, Frank, Heather, Eveline, Dave. Photo: David Nelson

The crew, February 2014. Photo: David Nelson

Hi all,

This is the call out for VERY limited volunteer spots for our second RatCatcher field trip(s) of April 2014.

The first convoy will head into the red playground that is the Simpson Desert on 10 April – led by Prof Chris “Head RatCatcher” Dickman and DERG PhD candidates Eveline “Dutchie” Rijksen and Stephanie “Got your Cat” Yip.
Volunteer positions are closed for this first departure.

The second cavalry charge will be headed by Prof Glenda “Head RatCatcher” Wardle with a thundering convoy of three desert field vehicles departing 23 April – 14 May. Limited volunteer openings.

DERG Senior Research Assistant Aaron “Little G” Greenville and DERG Research Assistants David “Give me Wood” Nelson and Tony “Pollinator” Popic.

RatCatcher crews will THEN be joined in the field by our joint researchers from LTERN.

The word ‘MASSIVE’ doesn’t do this April field schedule justice.
Dust off your swags, polish your boots, wipe down your Akubras. Get on the blower and spread the good word for me amongst your respective ecological networks.
Expressions of Interest back to me ASAP please:

Fight the good fight with the RatCatchers,

ARC Discovery award

 Perentie, Varanus giganteus. Photo: David Nelson

Creating shelter from predators will form part of this Discovery Project. Perentie, Varanus giganteus. Photo: David Nelson

The Australian Research Council (ARC) recently announced funding for Discovery Projects starting in 2014. Among the recipients is Professor Chris Dickman of the Desert Ecology Research Group, awarded a grant of $980 000 over three years.

The project is entitled “Weathering the perfect storm: mitigating the post-fire impacts of invasive predators on small desert vertebrates”:

Wildfires and subsequent incursions by feral cats and foxes are driving declines of many native mammals and lizards in central Australia. This project will describe the role of small stands of trees in providing refuge for these species, and test novel methods of protecting them from predators following wildfire.

See the University of Sydney’s story here

Dingo diet

Dingo pup. Photo: David Nelson

Dingo pup. Photo: David Nelson

New paper out from DERG member Thomas Newsome and colleagues looking at human impacts on dingo diet. Check it out here.


Resource subsidies to opportunistic predators may alter natural predator–prey relationships and, in turn, have implications for how these predators affect co-occurring prey. To explore this idea, we compared the prey available to and eaten by a top canid predator, the Australian dingo (Canis lupus dingo), in areas with and without human-provided food. Overall, small mammals formed the majority of dingo prey, followed by reptiles and then invertebrates. Where human-provided food resources were available, dingoes ate them; 17 % of their diet comprised kitchen waste from a refuse facility. There was evidence of dietary preference for small mammals in areas where human-provided food was available. In more distant areas, by contrast, reptiles were the primary prey. The level of seasonal switching between small mammals and reptiles was also more pronounced in areas away from human-provided food. This reaffirmed concepts of prey switching but within a short, seasonal time frame. It also confirmed that the diet of dingoes is altered where human-provided food is available. We suggest that the availability of anthropogenic food to this species and other apex predators therefore has the potential to alter trophic cascades.