Our research

Philanthropy allows researchers and students from across the School of BioSciences to focus on what they're best at - protecting and promoting Australian wildlife, ecosystems and environments. If you would like to give to the Native Australian Animals Trust, you can do so via the button below, or find out more about giving to fund research such as this.

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Fundamental biology and ecology of Australian animals

From the behaviour of insects to the genetic underpinnings of foetal development and assembling the genome of the Thylacine, we are leaders in fundamental biological research. This research often yields new applications with possible benefits to human health, such as work on the genomics of marsupial development, which led to the identification of novel milk proteins and anti-microbial peptides.

Uncovering hidden biodiversity

Our researchers traversed the remote rivers of the Kimberley region in Australia’s north over a period of two years, discovering 20 new freshwater fish species - the greatest single addition to Australia’s freshwater fish fauna since the first such species was described more than 187 years ago. Now that we know these species exist, we can mount arguments for their protection – and go searching for others.

Evolutionary approaches to rescuing populations

Species don’t go extinct overnight. Firstly, there’s a period of decline, and this is our chance to save them. Our researchers are introducing particular genes to populations that need our help to survive. We’re already teaching quolls to be ‘toad-smart’, breeding coral that can survive in warmer waters, and expanding the gene pool of the mountain pygmy possums based at Victoria’s Mount Buller.

Saving species in rapidly changing landscapes

In the face of human expansion, how do we identify which regions and habitats should be preserved to protect different species? Our researchers are world leaders in solving precisely this kind of problem. We identified which habitats around Perth in Western Australia can best protect nearly 200 threatened species, resulting in a regional plan that sets aside 170,000 hectares for new natural reserves, optimally arrayed to protect biodiversity.

Photo credit: Anja Skroblin

Linking with Indigenous communities for conservation

Indigenous protected areas place land management firmly into the hands of the Indigenous owners, creating stronger links to country. Our researchers have a proven track record of finding out what land managers want and helping them work out how best to get there. We’re collaborating with communities to integrate Indigenous knowledge with scientific methods, facilitating social, economic and environmental benefits for Indigenous people, and building their capacity for natural resource planning.

Dealing with disease

Almost everything we know about disease evolution comes from biological research. Our researchers discovered that female mosquitos infected with the Wolbachia bacteria don't pass on the Dengue virus and, when they mate with non-infected males, produce no offspring. This biological control program is helping to suppress mosquito populations in several countries by effectively immunising them (and us) against Dengue. We've also examined the evolution and physiology of malaria, and developed new tools to reduce drug resistance, which may help us to combat malaria permanently.

Turning back the tide of invasive species

Foxes, cats, invasive plants, invasive diseases and invasive toads have had a huge impact on Australia’s biodiversity. Our researchers have developed innovative strategies for dealing with these species, from preventing their arrival to containing their spread and mitigating their impact. We are now at the forefront of new genetic techniques that may revolutionise our ability to control and eradicate invasive species, and our work on evolution in invasive species is even being applied to an invader of personal concern to most people: cancer cells.