Shane Richards

UTAS Home Dr Shane A. Richards

Shane A. Richards

Senior Lecturer

Room 454 , Physics

+61 3 6226 7153 (phone)

Dr Shane A. Richards has a PhD in mathematics and his research interests involve ecology and evolution. He has developed and combined his quantitative skills and research interests to form an international career in the areas of mathematical biology and statistical ecology. His research involves collaborations with a diversity of scientists (e.g. ecologists, microbiologists) where a range of biological hypotheses are described and tested, often leading to real-world application (e.g. disease control, biological conservation).


Before joining the University of Tasmania, Shane was a senior lecturer at Durham University, UK, in the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (2005-2015). From 2015-2018 Shane worked as a research scientist at CSIRO (Oceans & Atmosphere), Hobart. Shane has also held research positions at the University of Adelaide, University of Sydney, Duke University, University of Amsterdam, University of Calgary, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, US.

General Responsibilities

Shane is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Natural Sciences. He is interested in quantitative ecology and testing biological models using modern statistical methods. Particular interests include evolutionary and community ecology, animal behaviour, life-history theory, disease dynamics, plant-pollinator interactions, and conservation biology. He has also worked on sports analytics.

Career summary


DegreeThesis titleUniversityCountryDate of award
PhDMathematical models of zooplankton dispersalUniversity of AdelaideAustralia1996


Shane teaches modern statistical methods to undergraduate (KMA353, KPZ312) and graduate students (KMA711). He also teaches theoretical evolutionary ecology (KPZ303).

Teaching expertise

Shane has over 20 years of experience teaching population and evolutionary ecology, and ecological statistics; to undergraduates and graduates. He currently coordinates two units: KMA711 - Statistical Analysis Using R, and KMA353 - Data Handling and Statistics 3.; He has taught at The University of Calgary (Canada), Durham University (UK), and The University of Tasmania. He has a Graduate Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, awarded by Durham University, UK.

Teaching responsibility

View more on Dr Shane Richards in WARP


Shane is an expert in mathematical modelling and statistics, and applying these skills to solving a broad range of biological problems, ranging from microbiology to ecosystem ecology. He collaborates with scientists across a broad range of disciplines, quantifying hypotheses by formulating them as mathematical models, and then testing the hypotheses by fitting them to data. These collaborations often result in practical applications (e.g. biological control or conservation).

Research Themes

Shane’s research aligns with the following UTAS research themes: Marine, Antarctic and Maritime; Environment, Resources and Sustainability; and Data, Knowledge and Decisions. He is currently modelling the spread of mange in the bare-nosed wombat and using these models to develop more effective strategies for controlling mange in the wild. In collaboration with CSIRO, Shane is developing long-term and broad scale population models for the threatened flatback turtle, which can be used to guide effective management strategies for this species along Australia’s north-west coastline. Shane is also developing size-structured marine ecosystem models in collaboration with IMAS that can be fit to the large Reef Life Survey data set, in order to assess the effects of marine protected areas. He is also working on developing better statistical approaches to model selection in order to help decision-making, in general.


Shane is currently collaborating with national and inter-national researchers at a number of institutes, including: The University of Calgary (Canada), Durham University (UK), Colorado State University (USA), The University of Western Australia, and CSIRO. He also contributes to data collection and analysis with local industry and community organisations (e.g. Landcare Tasmania, Forest Protection Authority, and Threatened Plants Tasmania).

Current projects

Shane is currently collaborating with CSIRO on the North West Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program. He is also contributing to the ARC funded project “Developing treatment for feasible control of mange disease in wombat populations”.

Fields of Research

  • Animal behaviour (310901)
  • Plant developmental and reproductive biology (310804)
  • Population ecology (310307)
  • Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) (310305)
  • Evolutionary impacts of climate change (310406)
  • Behavioural ecology (310301)
  • Stochastic analysis and modelling (490510)
  • Applied statistics (490501)
  • Host-parasite interactions (310407)
  • Ecosystem function (410203)
  • Climate change impacts and adaptation (410199)
  • Social geography (440610)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander environmental knowledges (450304)
  • Structural biology (incl. macromolecular modelling) (310112)
  • Cell and nuclear division (310502)
  • Community ecology (excl. invasive species ecology) (310302)
  • Ecological impacts of climate change and ecological adaptation (410102)
  • Phylogeny and comparative analysis (310410)
  • Biological adaptation (310403)
  • Animal physiology - cell (310909)
  • Cell development, proliferation and death (310102)
  • Veterinary epidemiology (300905)
  • Ecology (310399)
  • Time series and spatial modelling (490511)
  • Biological mathematics (490102)
  • Natural resource management (410406)
  • Animal immunology (310905)

Research Objectives

  • Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences (280102)
  • Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems (180601)
  • Expanding knowledge in the mathematical sciences (280118)
  • Ecosystem adaptation to climate change (190102)
  • Animal welfare (109902)
  • Expanding knowledge in human society (280123)
  • Fisheries - recreational freshwater (100301)
  • Expanding knowledge in the health sciences (280112)
  • Terrestrial biodiversity (180606)
  • Treatment of human diseases and conditions (200105)
  • Assessment and management of pelagic marine ecosystems (180502)
  • Control of pests, diseases and exotic species in terrestrial environments (180602)
  • Veterinary diagnostics (241602)
  • Wild caught fin fish (excl. tuna) (100305)
  • Expanding knowledge in the agricultural, food and veterinary sciences (280101)
  • Climate change adaptation measures (excl. ecosystem) (190101)
  • Coastal or estuarine biodiversity (180203)
  • Other environmental management (189999)
  • Environmental lifecycle assessment (190204)


Since 1995 Shane has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that span a broad range of biological disciplines. He has published some highly cited publications on best-practice of the application of Akaike’s Information Criterion (AIC) when selection models, an approach commonly adopted in ecology. Journals that he has published in include: Nature Ecology and Evolution, Ecology Letters, American Naturalist, Ecology, Evolution, Journal of Applied Ecology, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, and Journal of Cell Science.

Total publications


Journal Article

(28 outputs)
2023Liu Qin, Charleston MA, Richards SA, Holland BR, 'Performance of AIC and BIC in selecting Partition Models and Mixture Models', Systematic biology pp. 1-29. ISSN 1076-836X (2023) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/sysbio/syac081 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Liu Qin; Charleston MA; Holland BR


2021Harder LD, Richards SA, Agren J, Johnson SD, 'Mechanisms of male-male interference during dispersal of orchid pollen', The American Naturalist, 197, (2) pp. 250-265. ISSN 0003-0147 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1086/712378 [eCite] [Details]


2021Wilkinson V, Tokano K, Nichols D, Martin A, Holme R, et al., 'Fluralaner as a novel treatment for sarcoptic mange in the bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus): safety, pharmacokinetics, efficacy and practicable use', Parasites and Vectors, 14, (1) Article 18. ISSN 1756-3305 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/s13071-020-04500-9 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 9Web of Science - 10

Co-authors: Wilkinson V; Nichols D; Martin A; Charleston M; Kreiss A; Pye R; Browne E; Naesborg-Nielsen C; Carver S


2021Wu W, Lois N, Prescott AR, Brown AP, Van Gerwen V, et al., 'The importance of the epithelial fibre cell interface to lens regeneration in an in vivo rat model and in a human bag-in-the-lens (BiL) sample', Experimental Eye Research, 213 Article 108808. ISSN 0014-4835 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.exer.2021.108808 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 2


2021Yates LA, Richards SA, Brook BW, 'Parsimonious model selection using information theory: A modified selection rule', Ecology, 102, (10) Article 3475. ISSN 0012-9658 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3475 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 4

Co-authors: Yates LA; Brook BW


2020Audzijonyte A, Richards SA, Stuart-Smith RD, Pecl G, Edgar GJ, et al., 'Fish body sizes change with temperature but not all species shrink with warming', Nature Ecology and Evolution, 4 pp. 809-814. ISSN 2397-334X (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1038/s41559-020-1171-0 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 52Web of Science - 52

Co-authors: Audzijonyte A; Stuart-Smith RD; Pecl G; Edgar GJ; Barrett NS; Blanchard JL


2020Murphy K, Pecl GT, Richards SA, Semmens JM, Revill AT, et al., 'Functional traits explain trophic allometries of cephalopods', Journal of Animal Ecology, 89, (11) pp. 2692-2703. ISSN 0021-8790 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1365-2656.13333 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 7

Co-authors: Murphy K; Pecl GT; Semmens JM; Trebilco R; Blanchard JL


2020Nowak K, Berger J, Panikowski A, Reid DG, Jacob AL, et al., 'Using community photography to investigate phenology: A case study of coat molt in the mountain goat (Oreamnos americanus) with missing data', Ecology and Evolution, 10, (23) pp. 13488-13499. ISSN 2045-7758 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/ece3.6954 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 6


2020Stewart JE, Gutierrez Illan J, Richards SA, Gutierrez D, Wilson RJ, 'Linking interannual variation in environment, phenology, and abundance for a montane butterfly community', Ecology, 101, (1) Article e02906. ISSN 0012-9658 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/ECY.2906 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 13


2019Martin AM, Richards SA, Fraser TA, Polkinghorne A, Burridge CP, et al., 'Population-scale treatment informs solutions for control of environmentally transmitted wildlife disease', Journal of Applied Ecology, 56, (10) pp. 2363-2375. ISSN 0021-8901 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13467 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 18Web of Science - 17

Co-authors: Martin AM; Fraser TA; Burridge CP; Carver S


2019Tuck GN, Richards SA, 'Risk equivalence as an alternative to balancing mean value when trading draft selections and players in major sporting leagues', PLoS ONE, 14, (5) Article e0217151. ISSN 1932-6203 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0217151 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1


2019van Putten I, Boschetti F, Ling S, Richards SA, 'Perceptions of system-identity and regime shift for marine ecosystems', ICES Journal of Marine Science, 76, (6) pp. 1736-1747. ISSN 1054-3139 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/icesjms/fsz058 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3Web of Science - 4

Co-authors: van Putten I; Ling S


2018Audzijonyte A, Richards SA, 'The energetic cost of reproduction and its effect on optimal life-history strategies', American Naturalist, 192, (4) pp. 1-13. ISSN 1537-5323 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1086/698655 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 11

Co-authors: Audzijonyte A


2018Scheijen CPJ, Richards SA, Smit J, Jones T, Nowak K, 'Efficacy of beehive fences as barriers to African elephants: a case study in Tanzania', Oryx pp. 1-8. ISSN 0030-6053 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1017/S0030605317001727 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 11Web of Science - 11


2018van Putten IE, Plaganyi EE, Booth K, Cvitanovic C, Kelly R, et al., 'A framework for incorporating sense of place into the management of marine systems', Ecology and Society, 23, (4) Article 4. ISSN 1708-3087 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5751/ES-10504-230404 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28

Co-authors: van Putten IE; Plaganyi EE; Booth K; Cvitanovic C; Kelly R


2017Labouche A-M, Richards SA, Pannell JR, 'Effects of pollination intensity on offspring number and quality in a wind-pollinated herb', Journal of Ecology, 105, (1) pp. 197-208. ISSN 0022-0477 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.12659 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 10


2017Nowak K, Wimberger K, Richards SA, Hill RA, le Roux A, 'Samango monkeys (Cercopithecus albogularis labiatus) manage risk in a highly seasonal, human-modified landscape in Amathole Mountains, South Africa', International Journal of Primatology, 38, (2) pp. 194-206. ISSN 0164-0291 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s10764-016-9913-1 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13Web of Science - 11


2016Harder LD, Aizen MA, Richards SA, 'The population ecology of male gametophytes: the link between pollination and seed production', Ecology Letters, 19, (5) pp. 497-509. ISSN 1461-0248 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/ele.12596 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28Web of Science - 25


2016Harder LD, Aizen MA, Richards SA, Joseph MA, Busch JW, 'Diverse ecological relations of male gametophyte populations in stylar environments', American Journal of Botany, 103, (3) pp. 484-497. ISSN 0002-9122 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3732/ajb.1500269 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 19Web of Science - 19


2016Nowak K, Richards SA, le Roux A, Hill RA, 'Influence of live-capture on risk perceptions of habituated samango monkeys', Journal of Mammalogy, 97, (5) pp. 1461-1468. ISSN 0022-2372 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/jmammal/gyw083 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 4Web of Science - 4


2016Setchell JM, Richards SA, Abbott KM, Knapp LA, 'Mate-guarding by male mandrills (Mandrillus sphinx) is associated with female MHC genotype', Behavioral Ecology, 27, (6) pp. 1756-1766. ISSN 1045-2249 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/beheco/arw106 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 5


2016Virk B, Jia J, Maynard CA, Raimundo A, Lefebvre J, et al., 'Folate acts in E. coli to accelerate C. elegans aging independently of bacterial biosynthesis', Cell Reports, 14, (7) pp. 1611-1620. ISSN 2211-1247 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.01.051 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 53Web of Science - 53


2015Hindle BJ, Kerr CL, Richards SA, Willis SG, 'Topographical variation reduces phenological mismatch between a butterfly and its nectar source', Journal of Insect Conservation, 19 pp. 227-236. ISSN 1366-638X (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s10841-014-9713-x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 17Web of Science - 17


2015Markiewicz E, Barnard S, Haines J, Coster M, van Geel O, et al., 'Nonlinear ionizing radiation-induced changes in eye lens cell proliferation, cyclin D1 expression and lens shape', Open Biology, 5 Article 150011. ISSN 2046-2441 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1098/rsob.150011 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 29Web of Science - 33


2015Townsend PD, Rodgers TL, Glover LC, Korhonen HJ, Richards SA, et al., 'The role of protein-ligand contacts in allosteric regulation of the Escherichia coli catabolite activator protein', Journal of Biological Chemistry, 290, (36) pp. 22225-22235. ISSN 0021-9258 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M115.669267 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 25Web of Science - 23


2014Devenish-Nelson ES, Richards SA, Harris S, Soulsbury C, Stephens PA, 'Demonstrating frequency-dependent transmission of sarcoptic mange in red foxes', Biology Letters, 10, (10) Article 20140524. ISSN 1744-9561 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2014.0524 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 28Web of Science - 27


2014Lawson CR, Hodgson JA, Wilson RJ, Richards SA, 'Prevalence, thresholds and the performance of presence-absence models', Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5, (1) pp. 54-64. ISSN 2041-210X (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/2041-210X.12123 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 107Web of Science - 105


2014Nowak K, le Roux A, Richards SA, Scheijen CPJ, Hill RA, 'Human observers impact habituated samango monkeys' perceived landscape of fear', Behavioral Ecology, 25, (5) pp. 1199-1204. ISSN 1045-2249 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1093/beheco/aru110 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 60Web of Science - 59


Chapter in Book

(1 outputs)
2015Richards SA, 'Likelihood and model selection', Ecological Statistics: Contemporary theory and application, Oxford University Press, GA Fox, S Negrete-Yankelevich, VJ Sosa (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 58-80. ISBN 9780199672547 (2015) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672547.003.0004 [eCite] [Details]


Grants & Funding

Shane has been successful at being awarded ARC funding and consultancy funds from CSIRO.

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Universal properties in size distributions of aquatic species (2022 - 2024)$456,000
Knowledge about the body size distributions in natural populations is central to ecology and management. Body sizes are rapidly changing due to human impacts, but we still do not know how and why. This project will bring together large datasets collected through traditional and citizen science methods and advances in size based theory to assess general properties in body size distributions across thousands of aquatic species, estimate and predict temperature and harvest impacts through space and time, and advance size-based theory and its application. We will develop practical statistical tools for management and conservation of data poor species worldwide, focusing on non-traditional data sources.
Australian Research Council ($456,000)
Grant-Discovery Projects
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Audzijonyte A; Krueck N; Richards S; Andersen K
2022 - 2024
Grant Reference
CSIRO- Barrow Turtle research (2021)$20,000
The Specified personnel will assist CSIRO in completing the Project as detailed in the attached Head Agreement. Specifically, the Specified Personnel will develop a simple deterministic, discrete-time population model for Natator depressus, which will be incorporated into a management-decision model. Optimal decisions will be determined by applying stochastic dynamic programming to a stochastic version of the population model.
CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation ($20,000)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Richards S
Outcome mapping and developing adaptation pathways for the Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program (2020 - 2021)$15,000
The Specified personnel will assist CSIRO in completing the Project as detailed in the attached Head Agreement. Specifically, the Specified Personnel will develop a simple deterministic, discrete-time population model for Natator depressus, which will be incorporated into a management-decision model. Optimal decisions will be determined by applying stochastic dynamic programming to a stochastic version of the population model.
CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation ($15,000)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Richards S
2020 - 2021
Outcome mapping and developing adaptation pathways for the Northwest Shelf Flatback Turtle Conservation Program (2019)$10,000
Develop a simple deterministic, discrete-time population model for Natator depressus, which will be incorporated into a management-decision model. Optimal decisions will be determined by applying stochastic dynamic programming to a stochastic version of the population model.
CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation ($10,000)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Richards S
Developing feasible in situ control of mange disease in wombats (2019 - 2022)$328,117
Our goal is the development of feasible in situ control of sarcoptic mange in wombat populations. Globally important, the Sarcoptes scabiei mite infects >100 mammal species and is among the 50 most common human diseases, causing health, welfare and population impacts. This infection is treatable, and we will test a new treatment (fluralaner), develop new models to guide management, and conduct replicated field trials. This will enable science-based guidelines, advancing disease control, local eradication, and regulatory approval for wombats. Our research framework is adaptable to other mange-impacted species, and advance methods and theory for control of treatable disease in wildlife.
Australian Research Council ($178,117)
Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania ($30,000); Hydro Tasmania ($30,000); MSD Animal Health ($30,000); Water NSW ($60,000)
Grant-Linkage Projects
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Carver SS; Richards S; Charleston M; Phalen D; Mounsey K; Nichols DS
2019 - 2022
Grant Reference
Expert Working Group on Benchmarks for Ecosystem Assessment under EBFM (2017 - 2019)$940,446
To support the implementation of practical ecosystem-based fisheries management, including: (1) the determination of reliable indicators of ecosystem structure and function; (2) robustness of the methods across levels of data availability; (3) appropriate reference points; and (4) the inclusion of these indicators in existing fisheries management regimes. This will cover support for both the theoretical underpinnings but also empirical application via engagement with local managers and modelling experts at case study locations.
Lenfest Ocean Program ($940,446)
Administered By
CSIRO-Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation
Research Team
Fulton E; Sainsbury K; Smith D; Blanchard JL; Richards S; Van Putten IE; Bulman C; Hayes D; Thomas L; Berkhout JJ
2017 - 2019

Research Supervision

Shane supervises PhD students researching a broad range of topics that usually involve theoretical or applied ecology, and/or statistical ecology. His students tend to have very strong quantitative skills and a keen interest in biology/ecology.






PhDModel Selection and Goodness of Fit in Molecular Phylogenetics2019
PhDTransmission and Control of Sarcoptes Scabiei in the Bare-Nosed Wombat (Vombatus ursinus)2019
PhDExtreme Climatic Events and the Future of Alpine Plant Coexistence2020
PhDDeveloping New Mechanistic Size-Structured Models to Support Climate-Resilient Aquaculture2022


PhDNeighbourhood Effects in a Temperate Eucalypt Forest
Candidate: Travis Glenn Britton
PhDExploring Macroecology of Cephalopods in a Changing Climate through Trait-based Approaches
Candidate: Kieran James Murphy
PhDThe forgotten krill: The biology and ecological function of Thysanoessa macrura in the Southern Ocean ecosystem
Candidate: Jake Rodney Wallis