People and Research



Professor Stuart Parsons is a zoologist by training and has worked mainly in the areas of ecology, behaviour and bioacoustics. He began his career studying echolocation in bats and this has formed the backbone of his career ever since. In particular, he is interested in behaviour and ecology as it related to echolocation, but also in the development and deployment of automated acoustic recognition systems. Through his postgraduate students he has also had the opportunity to work on insect hearing and olfaction; bird song, behaviour and genetics; bird neurobiology; spatial analysis; and marine mammals behaviour and ecology. Stuart completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Otago (NZ) before taking up post-doctoral positions at the University of Bristol working with Professor Gareth Jones. Stuart moved to the University of Auckland in 2001 and subsequently to QUT in December 2014. Stuart's official QUT web page can be found here.

Dr Roger Coles' (Visiting Fellow) research interests were forged initially from studies of the neural mechanisms of hearing and sound localisation in birds. He moved to expand into areas of both neuro and sensory ecology with the emphasis on acoustical communication in a range of vertebrates including birds and mammals. This approach has necessitated an understanding of animals in their acoustical world through their sensory (hearing) and motor (vocal) systems, and his interest has extended beyond the human experience (such as hypersensitive hearing and the use of ultrasound). Examples include some the most fascinating and extreme forms of sensory adaptation such as that found in masked owls and the echolocation systems of bats and birds; a notable inclusion being the collaborative discovery  of electrolocation in the platypus as well. An understanding of the biophysics of sound and the anatomy of the peripheral auditory system has lead him to discover the use of acoustically coupled ears (pressure-gradient) in birds to provide directionality, which (controversially) includes owls and likely subterranean mammals such as moles. As a result of his research efforts, evolutionary inventions like the pinna in mammals and the facial ruff in owls can now be understood in terms of their acoustical horn-like diffraction properties, and their role in improving hearing sensitivity and directionality. His interest in echolocation and behavioural ecology has lead to the use and development of bat detecting devices, to record and analyse high quality ultrasound; bat echolocation call characteristics can be exploited as a survey tool by reliably recognising species flying and foraging at night. This approach has enormous potential for conservation research in such a large continent like Australia. His collaborative research spans several continents including  Australia, SE Asia and Europe.

PhD Students

  • Kathleen Collier - The social organisation of Mystacina tuberculata: roost-selection and courtship behaviour
  • Zenon Czenze - Torpor and hibernation in a bats across a latitudinal gradient
  • Anita FreudmannForaging ecology and behaviour of Queensland Tube Nosed fruit bats (Nyctimene robinsoni)
  • Vanessa GoreckiThe roosting ecology of insectivorous bats in road structures in urban Brisbane

Occupational Trainees

  • Jaslyn Jia Hui Chan (NTU, Singapore)- Developing and automated identifier for Australia bats


Recent Past Students

  • Steph Behrens MSc - Bryde’s whales distribution and vessel-strike mortality in the Hauraki Gulf (with Prof George Perry UoA)
  • Kerry Borkin PhD - Ecology of long-tailed bats in commercial pine forest.
  • Dana Campbell
    • BSc(Hons) - Song degradation in a captive-bred island population: the analysis of North Island Kokako (Callaeas cinerea wilsoni) on Tiritiri Matangi Island.
    • PhD - Limitations on song learning in zebra finches--phylogeny or ecology? (with Prof Mark Hauber,  University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
  • Emma Carter BSc (Hons) - The role of habitat reflectivity in the detectability of bat echolocation calls by moths (with Grant Hamilton  QUT)
  • Jeremy Corfield
    • MSc - Description, dueting, seasonal variation and individual identification of vocalisations of the Brown Kiwi (Apteryx mantelli).
    • PhD - Production, reception, and cognition of vocalisations from North Island Brown Kiwi
  • Kathy Crewther -BSc (Hons) - Modelling the distribution of bats in the Auckland region
  • Georgia Cummings MSc - Movement patterns of lesser short-tailed bats in relation to plant phenology
  • Andrea Dekrout PhD - Ecology of long-tailed bats in urban and fragmented agricultural landscapes
  • Sera Gibson MSc - Chemical defense mechanisms in marine vertebrates
  • Joshua Guilbert
    • MSc - Experimental Analysis of the Navigation Abilities of New Zealand Long-tailed Bats
    • PhD - Magnetic sense in bats.
  • Carryn Hojem MSc - Vocalisations of North Island brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli)
  • Katherine Jeffrey BSc (Hons) - Bat activity and diversity as a predictor of water quality
  • Julia Latham MSc - The ecology of ship rates (Rattus rattus) on Ponui Island: implications for North Island brown kiwi
  • Katherine Leader MSc - Neuroethology of anti-predator defense by endemic moths
  • Kathryn Lomas
    • MSc - Neural and behavioural responses of weta to sounds of predators
    • PhD - The neuroethology of hearing and communication in weta (with Prof Martin Wild, UoA)
  • Cassandra Mark MSc - Antennal morphology and the use of olfaction in host and mate location in the magpie moth, Nyctemera annulata (with Greg Holwell, UoA) 
  • Victor Obolonkin MSc - Localisation and classification of bird vocalisations using microphone arrays and signal processing techniques.
  • Robert Redgwell MSc - Development of an acoustic identification system for fourteen species of British microchiropteran bat
  • Jay Ruffell MSc - Translocation of short-tailed bats (Mystacina tuberculata) to Kapiti Island
  • Chantal Saint Ange BSc (Hons) - Modeling fruit bat roosting habitat on the Sunshine Coast
  • Raoul Schwing PhD - A Kea's vocalisation: A study of variability, context and function (with Dr Ximena Nelson, Canterbury University)
  • Cory Toth PhD - Reproductive behaviour of the lesser short-tailed bat (Mystacina tuberculata)
  • Nicola Wiseman PhD - Biology of Bryde's whales in the Hauraki Gulf. (with Prof Scott Baker, U Oregon)
  • Sarah Withers
    • MSc - The structure, function and variation of song in the adult hihi (Notiomystis cincta)
    • PhD - Reproductive behaviour of the North Island Rifleman