Plenary Speakers

Dr Leo Joseph

Director, Australian National Wildlife Collection

CSIRO National Research Collections Australia 

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Leo’s roots are in birdwatching but very early in his birdwatching career he began thinking about and was drawn into the world of evolution. So today he tries to be an evolutionary biologist and ornithologist working on the birds of Australia and New Guinea – the evolution of their diversity against the geological and environmental histories of the region, and studying how present-day communities have been assembled. Like many in this area field, he is adamant that we cannot fully understand the evolution of birds if we don’t know them under field conditions so thinking about birds in their habitats is always paramount. He did undergraduate (1977-79) and Honours (1981) degrees at the University of Adelaide, a PhD at the University of Queensland (1989-1994), and has lived in Uruguay and the USA. In Uruguay, he studied the evolution of migration in shorebirds and the climatic correlates of bird migration in South America.  From 1997-2005, he was curator and eventually Chair of the Department of Ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia (now affiliated with Drexel University). He returned home to Australia as Director of the Australian National Wildlife Collection at the end of 2005.

Dr Helen Taylor is a research fellow in conservation genetics at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She applies her research to bird species in New Zealand, many of which have experienced drastic reductions in population size and are now intensively managed via translocation programmes. Before moving to New Zealand from the UK, Dr Taylor volunteered with Birdlife Malta and the Tambopata Macaw Project in Peru. She has since applied genetic techniques to a variety of bird taxa including oystercatchers, little-spotted kiwi and, most recently, South Island robins and hihi (stitchbirds), where she is investigating links between small populations and poor male fertility. Dr Taylor is an active member of Birds New Zealand, having been a council member for the organisation since 2016 and a member of its scientific committee since 2017. She is currently spearheading a largescale rebrand for Birds New Zealand to help ensure the society stays relevant in the 21stcentury. Dr Taylor is also concerned with the effective integration of genetics into conservation management and is part of the IUCN Conservation Genetics Specialist Group. A passionate science communicator, you can find her blog at on twitter @helentaylorcg, and learn more about her research at

Dr Helen Taylor

Research Fellow

Department of Anatomy
University of Otago, New Zealand 

Dr Rohan Clarke


School of Biological Sciences
Clayton Campus, Monash University, Victoria

Rohan leads the ResearchEcology group in the School of Biological Sciences at Monash University.  Whilst his interests are broad, current focal areas are the conservation biology of threatened birds, and seabird spatial ecology, the latter also with an eye to addressing threatening processes. A large part of his career has involved working directly with managers to optimise conservation actions, with direct contributions to 20+ threatened species recovery programs. Current work includes contributions to the translocation efforts for the diminutive Mallee Emu-wren and assessing impacts of invasive rodents on a suite of endemic passerines that persist on Norfolk Island. Within the marine realm, Rohan leads seabird focused programs at Ashmore Reef, in waters off the south-east coast of mainland Australia and at Norfolk Island where his group establish baseline monitoring programs (e.g. following the Montara Oil Spill) and seek to disentangle the spatial ecology of wide-ranging species to better secure populations. Rohan is also a passionate birder with a strong desire to bridge the gap between birders, amateur ornithologists and professionals: recent contributions here include co-authorship of the Australian Bird Guide (2017: CSIRO Publishing) and Finding Australian Birds (2016: CSIRO publishing).

Dr Ayesha Tulloch 


Desert Ecology Research Group, School of Life and Environmental Sciences

University of Sydney, New South Wales 

Ayesha is an ARC DECRA Fellow at the University of Sydney whose research focuses on using good ecological knowledge to inform conservation decision-making. She has worked in applied conservation and wildlife ecology for over 15 years and is interested in biodiversity management decisions that take place in human-modified landscapes where there are multiple threats and conflicting objectives. Ayesha works with government agencies and NGOs in Australia, Africa and Asia including Bush Heritage Australia, the Wildlife Conservation Society and BirdLife Australia to help deliver effective on-ground conservation outcomes for threatened and declining species. Her current research interests centre around ecological and management forecasting to recover bird communities under threat. This research takes her to study birds across the Simpson Desert as well as threatened ecological communities of eastern Australia such as Box Gum Grassy Woodland. She has a keen interest in developing decision-support tools to help conservation management and monitoring, and co-leads the multi-stakeholder National Environmental Science Program Threatened Species Hub project "A Threatened Species Index for Australia".

© 2018 by AOC Local Organising Committee 2019. Artwork by: John Girdham