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Most of the worlds population live in cities and towns, and by 2050 90% of Australian's will live in cities. The health of the environment within our urban landscapes is a key driver of human health and well-being, however climate change, human population growth and environmental degradation are placing unprecedented stress on the urban environment, threatening the liveability of our cities.

Cities contain a rich diversity of plants and animals, however current urban planning practices do not properly account for this biodiversity. Much of my research aims to answer the questions: 

1) What are the impacts of urban form on biodiversity? 

2) How should cities be designed and managed to have positive impacts on biodiversity?


Ecosystem services and biodiversity benefit of large urban green spaces

Funded by the Australian Research Council, The Australian Golf Course Superintendents Association, The Australian Research Centre for Urban Ecology (ARCUE) (2011 – 2014) 

Researchers include Dr Caragh Threlfall, Dr Steve Livesley, Dr Nick Williams, Dr Amy Hahs and Prof Nigel Stork, with many student projects including Alessandro Ossola, Jess Mackie and Jess Baumann.

Urban green spaces, such as golf courses, support large areas of vegetation within cities and subsequently can make a big difference to the retention of urban biodiversity.  These green spaces are important to people for a range of social and ecological reasons. Continued infill development and increasing urban sprawl is putting pressure on managed large green spaces, such as urban golf courses, which are increasingly being sold off and replaced by residential and commercial development. In this project we undertook a three-year study that investigated the biodiversity values provided by urban green spaces and in particular golf courses. We surveyed the biodiversity of golf courses in southeast Melbourne in comparison to surrounding residential areas and parks. We measured the diversity of birds, native bees, micro-bats and many other insect groups that use these green spaces. Our study suggests that Melbourne’s sand belt golf courses are providing huge biodiversity benefits in comparison to nearby urban parks and residential areas, and that simple interventions such as reduced mowing can have a large impact. The study will provide the golfing industry and other land managers with a detailed understanding of the biodiversity value of the urban green spaces they manage, and will contribute to our understanding of how to restore biodiversity habitat in the urban landscape. 

For more information see my Publications tab, and Melbourne University Green Infrastructure Research Group Website


Urbanisation and its effects on bats

Researchers include Dr Caragh Threlfall and Dr Kirsten Jung

Bats are a highly diverse group of mammals that occur worldwide, and many species persist in cities. In this project we have been synthesising current knowledge of bats in urban environments, an examining what traits of bats allows them to persist in cities.

See our book chapter, it's open access!

Jung, K and Threlfall, C.G. (2015) Urbanisation and Its Effects on Bats - A Global Meta-Analysis in Bats in the Anthropocene: Conservation of bats in a changing world. Voigt, C. and Kingston, T (Eds), Springer. pp13-33.

Threlfall, C.G and Jung, K (in press) Trait-dependent tolerance of bats to urbanization: a global meta-analysis. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Science Accepted 25th July 2018, *Joint first authorship