- March 2010-present: PhD Student, University College London and Institute of Zoology, London, UK.
- 2009-2010: Research Officer, Fire Ecology Unit, NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change, Sydney, Australia.
- 2006–2007, 2009: Research Officer, Vertebrate Ecology Unit, NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change, Sydney, Australia.
- 2008: Visiting Researcher, Laboratoire d'Ecophysiologie Végétale Agronomie, Université de Caen, France.
- 2008: Research/Field Assistant to Prof. Rob Freckleton and Dr Mark Ooi, Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, UK.
- 2006–2008: Executive Officer DECC Animal Ethics Committee, NSW Department of Environment & Climate Change, Sydney, Australia.
- 2004: Casual Animal Carer, University of New South Wales Field Research Station, Cowan, NSW, Australia.
- 2002–2005: Bachelor of Science (Hons- 1st Class), University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
- 2001-2005: Research Assistant to A/Prof. David Eldridge, School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
My research interests lie in the interface of ecology, animal behaviour and conservation, i.e. understanding the ecology and behaviour of threatened species to inform their management for conservation. My current research project aims to investigate the factors that are controlling the recovery of sole surviving population of the Critically Endangered Hainan gibbon (Nomascus hainanus), on Hainan Island, China. This species is the world’s rarest ape, with the current global population estimated at around 17-20 individuals. Limited work on the Hainan gibbon population has identified a number of potential explanations for the limited population growth observed, including extrinsic factors relating to the gibbon’s habitat and how human impacts have altered it (e.g. reduced availability of favoured lowland habitat, reduced quality of remaining habitat, severe habitat fragmentation), and intrinsic factors relating to the gibbon’s life history traits and social behaviours (e.g. limited survival of maturing sub-adults preventing dispersion to form new mating pairs/social groups, reduced mate choice due to small population size exacerbated by gibbon mate selection requirements, large home range requirements of up to 500 ha). However, the findings have been unclear, with a distinct lack of evidence to support many of the assumptions made to date, and existing evidence for evaluating all these factors is limited. Thus, there is an urgent need for a rigorous study of the behavioural and ecological constraints impeding this species’ recovery.
The principle aim of my research is to qualify and quantify the key extrinsic (habitat) factors and intrinsic (life-history and social/behavioural) traits determining the Hainan gibbon population’s size and composition, in an attempt to understand and minimise the impediments to the population’s growth and therefore the species’ recovery. An additional objective of the work will be to develop ecologically meaningful predictive models to provide predictions about Hainan gibbon recovery under different ecological scenarios and different management strategies, with the aim of developing informed conservation strategies and actions for the species. I hope, through this study, to provide insights for not only the critically endangered Hainan gibbon, but also to provide a clearer understanding of the factors that can constrain the recovery of small populations of threatened species generally.
Note: We are presently looking for essential funding to support the fieldwork costs of my research project. If you are interested in helping fund this imperative research, please contact me on the above details.
Lunney, D., Crowther, M.S., English, A.W., Bryant, J.V. & Shannon, I. (submitted) “The cryptic distribution of deer in New South Wales: implications for impacts and management” Journal of Wildlife Management.
Lunney, D., Close, R., Bryant, J. V., Crowther, M. S., Shannon, I., Madden, K., and Ward, S. (in press). “Campbelltown’s koalas: their place in the natural history of Australia.” In: ‘A Natural History of Sydney’ (Eds. P. Hutchings, D. Lunney and D. Hochuli.) Royal Zoological Society of NSW: Mosman, NSW.
Lunney, D., Close, R., Bryant, J.V., Crowther, M.S. Shannon, I., Madden, K. & Ward, S. (in press). “The koalas of Campbelltown, south-western Sydney: does their natural history foretell of an unnatural future?” In ‘A Natural History of Sydney’ (Eds. P. Hutchings, D. Lunney and D. Hochuli) Royal Zoological Society of NSW: Mosman, NSW.
Crowther, M.S., McAlpine, C.A., Lunney, D., Shannon, I. & Bryant, J.V. (2009) “Using broad-scale, community survey data to compare species’ conservation strategies across regions: A case study of the koala in adjacent catchments.”Ecological Management & Restoration 10 (S1), S88-S96.
Lunney, D., Crowther, M.S., Bryant, J.V. & Shannon, I. (2009) “Combining a map-based public survey with an estimation of site occupancy to determine the recent and changing distribution of the koala in New South Wales.” Wildlife Research 36, 262–273.
Banks, P.B. & Bryant, J.V. (2007) “Four-legged friend or foe? Dog walking displaces birds from natural areas.” Biology Letters 3(6), 611-613.
Dr Helen Chatterjee , UCL.
Dr Samuel Turvey , IoZ.
Dr John Fellowes, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, Hong Kong
Dr Guy Cowlishaw , IoZ.