Dr Julie McInnes


Current research

A key component of ecosystem monitoring programs that aim to support the maintenance of biodiversity and ecosystem function is sound knowledge of species composition and food web linkages. This information provides a foundation for assessing ecosystem changes and can allow causal links to be clarified (e.g. interactions between marine predators and fishery resources). Seals and seabirds are responsive and reflective of changes in the availability of lower trophic levels, which makes these predators ideal indicator species for changes in marine ecosystems. Dietary studies provide a mechanism to assess environmental and fisheries-related changes in marine systems, as well as the marine biodiversity of a region. DNA metabarcoding of predator scats is a non-invasive tool which allows the diet of a range of predator species to be investigated simultaneously, increasing our understanding of ecosystem connectivity and food web structure.

What my project involves

During this fellowship I will work with a team to develop a marine ecosystem monitoring framework using top predator scat DNA to assess species biodiversity in the Subantarctic. By simultaneously studying the diet of a range of predators, we will resolve food web linkages and investigate the use of quantitative models integrating DNA sequence datasets. Through the collation of existing dietary data and new robust dietary information, we will provide a sound foundation for future monitoring programs to assess changes in species diversity and identify species that may be at risk from fishery engagement.

Fun trivia about my research

Research project in a haiku

Research-related interests

I have a particular love of the Subantarctic, with a focus on applied research leading to conservation and management outcomes for seabirds and marine mammals.

About me

I love to be outdoors and go bushwalking whenever possible. Otherwise on weekends you’ll find my socialising with friends or pottering in the garden talking to the chickens like a crazy chicken lady.

Previous work I've done

I have worked for both State and Federal Government developing and implementing wildlife research and monitoring programs, and have spent extended periods working in small field teams around Tas, Vic, NZ and in the Antarctic and Subantarctic to carry out population censuses, deployment of tracking devices on animals and long-term mark-recapture studies. My research in recent years has used molecular methodologies to implement multiple extensive DNA dietary studies on marine predators to investigate interactions with commercial fisheries across broad spatial and temporal scales, including working closely with key stakeholders to integrate the results into conservation planning.

Committees and affiliations

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