Rebecca West
Dr Rebecca West
Role: 
Wild Deserts Ecologist
Field of Research: 
Reintroduction biology, ecology, species conservation
Contact details:
Phone: 
+61 8 8091 3881
Office: 
Fort Grey Homestead
10755 Cameron Corner Road

Tibooburra NSW 2880

Research & Current Projects

RESEARCH INTERESTS

My research is focussed on reintroduction ecology and its role in ecosystem restoration. My PhD research focussed on assessing reintroduction as a tool for recovering populations of the endangered black-footed rock-wallaby in South Australia and I continue to act as a research consultant on the recovery team for this species. I have spent the past four years researching the role of in situ predation in improving predator avoidance behaviours of native species, and my research has also focussed on the role that the reintroduction of native predators could play in restoring ecosystem balance. I am also interested in examining the relationship between individual characteristics and survival following reintroduction to test whether selection for traits may be used to improve the outcomes of threatened species reintroductions.  I am currently developing ecological monitoring frameworks underpinned by research to enable the refinement of strategies for arid zone ecosystem restoration through the new Wild Deserts project.

CURRENT PROJECTS

I am the ecologist for the new Wild Deserts project. The project is a collaboration between UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science and Ecological Horizons, in partnership with the NSW government Saving Our Species program. Wild Deserts aims to restore a 350 km2 area of Sturt National Park in the far north-west on NSW, through the removal of feral species and the reintroduction of seven native species which have been absent from the region for over 100 years.

IN THE MEDIA

12 February 2018 Australian Museum Blog Looking back to move forward: Traditional knowledge and genetics informs threatened species management

05 July 2017 UNSW Newsroom Know your enemy: Teaching threatened species to be wary of predators

18 December 2017 National Geographic 'Extinct' Marsupial Rediscovered in Parts of Australia

 

Research Team 

CURRENT RESEARCH STUDENTS

Lisa Steindler (PhD candidate) – Tackling prey naïveté in Australia’s threatened mammals

PAST RESEARCH STUDENTS

Luke Tilley (Honours, 2016, University of Adelaide) - Diet, habitat and shelter use of the western quoll (Dasyurus geoffroii) at Arid Recovery; and the potential impacts of a reintroduction on in situ species

Rosemary Atkins (Honours, 2014) – Response of native mammals to visual predator cues

Matthew Hyatt (Honours, 2014) - Evolutionarily Challenged – How Burrowing Bettongs (Bettongia lesueur) react to Australia’s contemporary predators

 

Publications

West, R., Potter, S., Taggart, D., & Eldridge, M. D. B. (2018). Looking back to go forward: genetics informs future management of captive and reintroduced populations of the black-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralisConservation Genetics19(1), 235-247.

Steindler, L., Blumstein, D., West, R., Moseby, K., & Letnic, M. I. (2018). Discrimination of introduced predators by ontogenetically naïve prey scales with duration of shared evolutionary history. Animal Behaviour. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.01.013

Moseby, K. E., Letnic, M., Blumstein, D. T., & West, R. (2018). Designer prey: Can controlled predation accelerate selection for anti-predator traits in naïve populations? Biological Conservation, 217, 213-221. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.022

West, R., Letnic, M. I., Blumstein, D., & Moseby, K. (2017). Predator exposure improves anti-predator responses in a threatened mammal. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12947

West, R., Read, J. L., Ward, M. J., Foster, W. K., & Taggart, D. A. (2017). Monitoring for adaptive management in a trial reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis. ORYX, 51(3), 554-563. doi:10.1017/S0030605315001490

West, R., Ward, M. J., Foster, W. K., & Taggart, D. A. (2017). Testing the potential for supplementary water to support the recovery and reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby. Wildlife Research, 44(3), 269-272. doi:10.1071/WR16181

Atkins, R., Blumstein, D. T., Moseby, K., West, R., & Letnic, M. I. (2016). Deep evolutionary experience explains mammalian responses to predators. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. doi:10.1007/s00265-016-2181-4

West, R. S. (2014). Reintroduction as a tool for the recovery of warru (Petrogale lateralis MacDonnell Ranges race) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia (PhD thesis).

Hurst, J. L., & West, R. S. (2010). Taming anxiety in laboratory mice. Nature methods7(10), 825.