Megan D. Barnes, Ph.D.

I undertake applied ecological research to improve on ground outcomes through improved policy and management for threatended species and ecosystems”

email:  | Skype:  @ultimatemegs  | Twitter:  ultimatemegs

A desire to influence conservation policy and management in a way that improves both our understanding of ecological processes in complex socio-ecological systems, and conservation decision-making, guides my work. My research is shaped by lifelong experiences with wildlife and natural systems and a desire to integrate ecology and decision making using robust quantitative methods. I am passionate about innovative, collaborative research that results in real world impacts.

As a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Excellence in Environmental Decisions and National Environmental Research Hubs within the Centre for Environment and Biodiversity Conservation at The University of Queensland, my current research is focused on methods for estimating avifaunal trends using citizen science data, impact evaluation of protected areas using both quantitative time-series monitoring data, and qualitative expert estimation, cost-effective monitoring of ecosystem health in Australia as part of the Complex Decisions Lab led by Dr. Eve McDonald Madden, and creative ways to assess data deficient species.  I am also currently developing an exciting acoustics research monitoring program with Berndt van Rensberg (to be involved check out our latest research opportunity HERE).


I have a diverse background in behavioral ecology and both theoretical and applied ecology and conservation science, with expertise in both marine and terrestrial ecosystems, global vertebrate fauna, tropical ecology, decision science, statistics, impact evaluation,  protected areas management, and conservation planning, and global protected areas policy.

My research focuses on cost-effective decisions, monitoring and evaluation, global protected areas policy, using innovative approaches to understand the status and trends of fauna in data poor contexts through the application of advanced statistical methods and emerging technologies.

Core themes of my work are: evaluating biological outcomes, protected areas effectiveness evaluation, applied decision making in natural resource management and conservation policy, estimation and decision making under uncertainty, cost effective solutions that maximise the on ground impact of conservation actions, and harnessing the power of citizen science to learn about the complex world we live in.

Current collaborative research projects include: understanding the impact of protected areas in both marine and terrestrial realms,  understanding the influence of governance on outcomes in MPAs, conservation planning for cost-effective and representative marine protected areas, virtual ecology to understand bias in analysis of unstructured data, enabling conditions for the success of conservation interventions, and analytical methods for acoustic monitoring.

I am a passionate naturalist, with a particular love of birds, amphibians, geckos, and marine invertebrates, and an advocate and participant in citizen science. I work with community members to incentivise participation in citizen science, am hoping to launch eButterfly in Australia soon, and am a member of the Eremaea eBird communications committee. Before my PhD, I worked as a field ecologist, radio-tracking Rock wallabies, Harpy Eagles, Grizzly Bears, and Elk, and trapping mammals and reptiles for applied research and and conservation projects, and I like to keep my boots dirty by participating in field projects when I get a chance.

11240770_10152972699340286_222436990080799984_nI am am an active member of the IUCN Joint Taskforce on Biodiversity and Protected areas, and my doctoral research forms a key component of their work to investigate the drivers of biological outcomes in Protected Areas, and I am a member of both the WCPA and SSC. I previously served as an adjunct member of the board of the Oceania Section of the Society for Conservation Biology for a period of 3 years and was the founding president of the UQ chapter.


  • Ph.D. Conservation Science, The University of Queensland
  • Bachelor of Science (Ecology and marine Science, First Class Honors), James Cook University

Areas of Expertise

  • Social-ecological systems
  • Quantitative Ecology
  • Wildlife Ecology
  • Landscape Ecology
  • Vertebrate Fauna
  • Protected areas
  • Management Effectiveness
  • Impact evaluation of conservation actions
  • International conservation policy
  • Statistics
  • Cost effective decisions
  • Policy Evaluation
  • Prioritisation
  • Analysing unstructured data
  • Linear Modelling
  • Wildlife Monitoring

Check out my Research Gate profile for more info, check out my twitter feed, or flick through my webpage to see what I am up to at the moment.

email:  | Skype:  @ultimatemegs  | Twitter:  ultimatemegs


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