A love of the natural world, and particularly the lives and intelligent personalities of our native carnivores, has fascinated Associate Professor Menna Jones since she was a child. Today, she is working with scientists all over the world to save the critically endangered Tasmanian Devil. But it is not just the Devil whose life is on the line.
Uncovering our ecosystems vulnerable places
A love of the natural world, and particularly the lives and intelligent personalities of our native carnivores, has fascinated Associate Professor Menna Jones since she was a child.
Today, she is working with scientists all over the world to save the critically endangered Tasmanian devil. But it is not just the devil whose life is on the line.
The devil plays a vital role in the Tasmanian ecosystem. If the Tasmanian devil facial tumour disease forces the devil into extinction, it could also be harmful for many other Tasmanian species.
Associate Professor Menna Jones is working hard to ensure that doesn't happen. By gaining a deep understanding of how the devil interacts with other animals in the ecosystem, she can find the ecosystem's vulnerable places.
'When you lose an important species that interacts strongly with the broader food web, it upsets the balance of the whole system. This affects other species. If we understand these interactions, we can put plans in place to reset the natural balance,' said Associate Professor Jones.
'If the devil disappears from the Tasmanian food web, it could allow alien species like feral cats to take hold. This will devastate native species further down the food chain.'
Associate Professor Jones is working with state and federal governments, farmers, communities, PhD students and other researchers across the globe to stop this from happening.
'Putting research into practice is where you make a difference. It is not enough to make the discoveries; you need to talk to the right people and make the necessary changes happen.'
Associate Professor Jones also talks to school and community groups about the importance of looking after our vulnerable ecosystems.
'Conservation starts at home and in your workplace or industry. We can all takes steps to look after our environment. It will reward us by being a more productive landscape.'
Associate Professor Jones says there is nowhere better on earth to study ecology than in Tasmania.
'Tasmania is a wonderful natural outdoor laboratory. The mammal fauna is largely intact. It has been less affected by invasive species and extinctions than in other places.
'I believe that Tasmania could be the hub of ecological research for the world. We have an opportunity here to study evolution and animal extinctions. We can turn the lessons learned into management tools to share with the rest of Australia and the world.
'By understanding how healthy ecosystems function, and how disruptions to an ecosystem, such as disease and changes in land use, impact the broader natural environment, we can make a significant contribution to the world.'