Natalie Freeman                

Feeding and reproductive ecology of Northern Quolls

PhD Candidate


BSc Biological Sciences (2005-2009), University of Lethbridge, Canada

MSc Behavioural Ecology (2010-2012), University of Lethbridge, Canada

PhD Ecology (2017-Present), University of Queensland


Field biologist: someone who is comfortable being uncomfortable in nature

Field biologist: someone who is comfortable being uncomfortable in nature

Research Interests

My passion for animals started at a young age. Growing up in Canada, I spent the majority of my childhood frolicking in the snow and spending our brief summers outside in the sunshine. My first research project in undergrad was electrofishing overwintering trout species in a river by a local ski hill.  The biting cold, leaking chest waders and mild threat of electrocution did not waver my confirmed love for biology, but I decided my next research project should be somewhere warmer—or at least in the summer. The travelbug bit, and I flew to Guatemala to monitor nesting female olive ridley sea turtles and relocated their eggs back to the safety of our hatchery. During my final year of undergrad in Canada, I worked as an assistant birdbanding several passerine species in remote northern Alberta and British Columbia. Six inches of snow during the summer, clouds of mozzies and the odd bear or two still left an enormous grin on my face so I signed on for more punishment—A Masters in South Africa.

For my MSc, I studied the reproductive behaviour of two wild free-ranging troops of vervet monkeys in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. My days were spent immersed in a troop, focal-following the males and dodging the occasional rhino and cape buffalo.

With a flair for traveling, I set my sights upon Australia in 2012 and was lucky enough to be hired as a research assistant studying the sociality of eastern grey kangaroos. This led onto being the executive scientific advisor in 2015 for a 3 part documentary “Secret Life of the Kangaroo” by Blink Films.

Remote field sites are my desired landscape, and my PhD field location serves up rugged terrain, scorching sun and the sporadic cyclone.  I am currently completing a PhD on the foraging ecology of northern quolls on Groote Eylandt, NT. My days are spent taking furry animals out of traps, collecting data on just about everything we can fathom, and avoiding their sharp teeth and claws. While my body may become broken and bruised, clothing destroyed and soaked in sweat, and hiking boots ruined in months from this project, my heart and soul are sound and happy.

1000s of kg of camera equipment hauled through the bush, 368 individually named quolls, 60 weeks in the field over 2.5 years and 1 quoll up my boardshorts. I have *finally* finished my PhD data collection phase on the endangered northern quoll. Next step: analysis and writing!

Perfect way to spend my final day on Groote for 2019- fishing on a tinny with 2 Andrews!

Perfect way to spend my final day on Groote for 2019- fishing on a tinny with 2 Andrews!

Personal Interests

I love cooking and baking, much to the delight of the Wilson Lab. I am keen on knitting and reading, and spend as much time as I can back on Canadian soil drinking in the mountains and occasional Timmys coffee. 


Menz, C.S., Goldizen, A.W., Blomberg, S.P., Freeman, N.J., and Best, E.C. (2017). Understanding repeatability and plasticity in multiple dimensions of the sociability of wild female kangaroos. Animal Behaviour. 126: 3-16

 Freeman, N.J., Young, C., Barrett, L., and Henzi, P. (2015). Coalition formation by male vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus pygerythrus) in South Africa. Ethology. 121: 1-9

McFarland, R., Barrett, L., Boner, R., Freeman, N.J. and Henzi, P. (2014). Behavioral flexibility of vervet monkeys in response to climatic and social variability. American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 154: 357-364

 Freeman, N.J., Pasternak, G.M., Rubi, T.L., Barrett, L. and Henzi, P. (2012). Evidence for scent-marking in vervet monkeys? Primates. 53: 311-315

Freeman, N.J. (2012). Some aspects of male vervet monkey behaviour. M.Sc. thesis, University of Lethbridge.

Freeman, N.J., Sashaw, J., Barrett, L. and Henzi, P. (2011). Brothers in arms: coalition formation by free-ranging male vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus). American Journal of Primatology, 73: Supplement 1: 25