Researcher biography

My career vision is to become a wildlife conservation scientist involved in research that aims to improve the conservation outcomes of endangered species. My PhD research focuses on describing the unique reproductive physiology of the short-beaked echidna. The echidna is unique from other mammals in that they lay eggs, placing them in an intermediate stage between reptiles and mammals. Despite this fascinating biology, there has been limited progress characterising their reproductive profile over the past 128 years. Without this knowledge, we are grossly unprepared to deal with the long-term survival of this species. My research project will address this major gap in our knowledge by defining the reproductive behaviour and physiology of the short-beaked echidna. In achieving this, it may be possible to develop reliable methods of breeding short-beaked echidnas in captivity which may ultimately be adapted to the propagation of the critically endangered long-beaked echidna which has never reproduced in captivity. This project is a pivotal first step for the development of strategies to ensure the well-being and reproductive health of the echidna into the future, and will establish the short-beaked echidna as a valuable model for conservation of the endangered long-beaked echidna.

Kate’s principal advisor is Associate Professor Steve Johnston.