Jessica Latimer

Conservation genetics of the northern quoll (Dasyurus hallucatus) on Groote Eylandt

Honours student

j.latimer@uq.net.au

BSc  - Zoology (2016-2019) University of Queensland

 

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Research Interests

I was lucky enough to grow up half an hour away from Australia Zoo. When I was eight, my grandmother gave my mum and I a year pass; this was when my passion for animals and conservation began to develop. Watching Steve Irwin on TV made me aware of conservation issues that drove me to my Zoology major. I have never wanted to become anything else – always a Zoologist with a focus on conservation.

Throughout my degree I have been involved with a program called Advanced Study Program in Science (ASPinS). It is aimed to give undergraduates a taste of research life. This is how I found myself working in the Wilson Performance Lab under Skye’s guidance in 2017. I completed a mini research project analysing relationships between the morphology of northern quolls and their sprint speed, acceleration and deceleration.

Playing with Capuchin monkeys and trying to polish Rambo’s (the tortoise) shell – Bolivian animal refuge

Playing with Capuchin monkeys and trying to polish Rambo’s (the tortoise) shell – Bolivian animal refuge

After my exchange in 2017 at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, I decided to travel through Peru and Bolivia. I spent 3 weeks volunteering at an animal refuge in the Bolivian Amazon where I worked with many unique species, observe their behaviours, and conduct tours about the illegal trade of our animals to tourists. I got to interact with some incredible species such as capuchin monkeys, a capybara, a tapir, an armadillo, tortoises, Andean deer, native parrots and Amazonian river turtles. I also got to make enrichment toys for the ocelots, jaguar and puma.

I was lucky enough to be invited up to Groote Eylandt as a volunteer in mid-2018. This was my first fieldwork experience and I loved it! I also learnt so many new skills while having the opportunity to explore the outdoors and see our native animals in their natural environment.

Top of the Lone Cone hike, 730m high – Tofino, Vancouver Island

Top of the Lone Cone hike, 730m high – Tofino, Vancouver Island

An early morning at Lake Louise – Alberta, Canada

An early morning at Lake Louise – Alberta, Canada

At the end of 2018 I completed another undergraduate research project in the Wilson Lab. I looked at if sprint speed and grasp strength could be used as an indicator of prey capture success in the northern quoll.

This led me to my current honours project which I started in July 2019. My project is focusing on the conservation genetics of the northern quoll on Groote Eylandt. I will be analysing how the genetic diversity and effective population size has changed between 2012 – 2018.

Above: One of many northern quolls I found in our traps. Right: Once retrieved from the traps, we take them back to our field lab for performance testing.

Above: One of many northern quolls I found in our traps. Right: Once retrieved from the traps, we take them back to our field lab for performance testing.

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Personal Interests

Anything and everything that involves being outside, I love. It allows me to immerse myself in nature while fulfilling my passions for adventure and nature photography.

I have recently caught the travel bug after coming back from Canada and South America. My favourite places to visit are surrounded by National Parks and have plenty of outdoor activities. Every time I come home from my adventures I am even more impressed at the diversity of our globe, driving me to help conserve as many species as I can. 

A collection of my favourite animal photos from my Rockie Mountains/Vancouver Island road trip, Canada. From the top going clockwise: Rockie Mountain pika; elusive wolf on Vancouver Island; marmot along the Edith Cavell hike, Jasper; Golden-mantled ground squirrel looking over Lake Minnewanka, Banff; black bear flipping rocks at Tofino, Vancouver Island

A collection of my favourite animal photos from my Rockie Mountains/Vancouver Island road trip, Canada. From the top going clockwise: Rockie Mountain pika; elusive wolf on Vancouver Island; marmot along the Edith Cavell hike, Jasper; Golden-mantled ground squirrel looking over Lake Minnewanka, Banff; black bear flipping rocks at Tofino, Vancouver Island