I’m pleased to announce that the University of Western Australia has accepted my thesis as satisfying the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. You can now call me Dr. 🙂
My thesis is now available online at http://research-repository.uwa.edu.au/files/10146368/THESIS_DOCTOR_OF _PHILOSOPHY_RAITER_Keren_Gila_2016.pdf
One of the most incredible things about doing this PhD has been experiencing the sheer breadth and depth of generosity, support and interest that I have been so fortunate to receive along the way, and which have made this journey not only possible, but profoundly enriching. It is my hope that I have done all of it justice with this thesis and its associated outcomes and will continue to do so with the knowledge and experience that I now carry.
Firstly, I had the honour of receiving unwavering support from a diverse and distinguished team of supervisors, who were skilled at encouraging me to think broadly and explore the frontiers of what conservation needs, as well as always being present with my research even while they were stretched across the continent, and often the globe. Richard, I learnt so much from your wise advice and pragmatic approach to the unfolding of the research mystery. I also really appreciated the independence you gave me to follow my ‘researcher nose’, and your support to attend a number of very useful conferences. Suzanne, you have been a real role model for me, and your knowledge of the Great Western Woodlands and its stakeholders, as well as your thoughtful and encouraging feedback on my work have really benefited me. Hugh, your ability to turn a problem (“most of the impacts are too subtle to be visible”) into a conceptual framework that set the stage for my whole thesis was a huge gift for me, as was your encouragement to do conservation powerfully (“try to channel Attila the Hun or Napoleon on your rewrite”). Leonie, you were a later addition to my supervisory team and I really appreciated your enthusiasm and support for the predator investigation, as well as your help in developing the methods.
I feel extremely privileged to have conducted my field work in the largest and most intact
remaining temperate woodland on earth, work which would not have been possible without the funding, support, and assistance of many organisations and people. I am extremely grateful to the Wilderness Society for providing the funds for the field work and some of the motion-sensor cameras and to Gondwana Link for inspiring this work in the first place and then helping me to finish it with completion funding. The Great Western Woodlands Collaboration which consisted of Gondwana Link, The Wilderness Society, Pew Trusts and The Nature Conservancy also provided invaluable inspiration and information. I thank the University of Western Australia for bestowing me with the Robert and Maude Gledden Research Scholarship and providing me with its research infrastructure. I thank the School of Plant Biology for providing funds and support that assisted me to conduct my research, and the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions for providing me with a top-up scholarship. I thank CSIRO for providing me with a studentship and a spacious and quiet desk with a great garden view that was the setting for many productive work days.
I feel fortunate to have been part of the Ecosystem Restoration and Intervention Ecology
research group at UWA, led by Richard Hobbs. Our weekly meetings, social gatherings and office camaraderie have been educational, supportive and fun. Thanks to Mandy Trueman, Cristina Ramalho, Bridget Johnson, Dawn Dickinson, Jodi Price, Heather Gordon, Rebecca Campbell, Tim Morald, Maggie Triska, Michael Wysong, Joanna Burgar, Rachel Standish, Melinda Moir, Mike Craig, Mike Perring, Jelena May, Todd Erickson, Erika Roper, Hillary Harrop, Christine Allen and others for being part of this. Thanks also to UWA academic support staff who have played a role in my academic development, especially Joanne Edmonston. Krystyna Haq, and Michael Azariadis. I have also been fortunate to be affiliated with the Land and Water team led by Suzanne Prober and others at CSIRO in Floreat, and thank Nat Raisbeck-Brown, Carl Gosper, Georg Wiehl, Garry Ogston, Anna Simonsen, Emma Woodward, Craig MacFarlane and others for your friendly inclusion, assistance and advice. In addition, I have been privileged to be part of a wider network of researchers in the Environmental Decisions Group, led by Hugh Possingham at University of Queensland, and thank this network for its insights and support.
Cliffs Natural Resources provided immense support and assistance on field trips. Thank you to Johnny Prefumo, Nicole Harry, Jeremy Shepherdson, Rob Howard, Kylie Wilkinson, Chris Dart, Neil Smith, Lorna McDonald and Belinda Madigan of the Cliffs Environment team who were incredibly helpful and responsive in this regard. The Department of Parks and Wildlife have also supported the fieldwork with approvals and licences, pertinent information and regular fire safely check-ins; thanks to Keith Morris, Julie Futter, Vanessa Jackson, Jennifer Jackson, David Algar, Sarah Comer and others. Thank you also to doggers Gordon Anderson and Stuart McEwan who were both very helpful, taught me to identify predator prints and scats and provided valuable insights into predator behaviour. Thanks also to Gorgeanna Story for doing the scat analysis.
Heartfelt appreciation also goes to Sue and Rolf Meeking who provided unique insights, local advice and wonderful hospitality both on their farm and in the bush, as well as logistical assistance which came during a difficult time and helped me to stay on track with my fieldwork. Other local contacts Coral Carter of Kalgoorlie, Rev. Dr Anna Killigrew and Rev. Peter Harrison of Koora Retreat, and John and Bernadette Cashmore also provided much appreciated hospitality along the way.
Discussions with Keith Bradby, Peter Price, Amanda Keesing, Wayne O’Sullivan, Megan Evans, Judith Harvey, Shapelle McNee, Peter-Jon Waddell, James O’Connor, Barry Traill, Mark Gardener, Charles Roche, Liz Fox and others throughout the course of this research helped me to better understand the conservation situation and needs of the GWW and direct my research focus. Workshops organised by Megan Evans and Kerrie Wilson of University of Queensland and Liz Fox and Cheryl Gole of Birdlife Australia were also immensely useful in this regard.
Much of the work presented in this thesis was performed with the assistance of a suite of volunteers. I wish to thank my intrepid field volunteers, Fiona Westcott, Kieran Golby, Stewart Bayford, Neal Birch, Ophir Levin, Bridget Johnson, Rebecca Campbell, Joanna Burgar and Michael Wysong for their eagerness to leave their creature comforts behind and join me on these remote trips. I also thank them for their interest in the research and for their many questions and ideas that helped me to develop the investigations; for their humour and good company that made these trips unforgettable, and for their hard work and dependability that ensured successful completion of the work and safe homeward returns. I also wish to thank the team of volunteers who helped me to digitize the disturbance footprint of vast swathes of the Great Western Woodlands over many hours: Ophir Levin, Julia Waite, Brad Desmond, and Rachel Omodei.
Thank you to other friends and colleagues Jaya Penelope, Krishna Rose, Ronen Steingold, Kiran Kigs, Kieran Golby, Naomi and Yonatan Li’el, Tegan Rourke, Cherie Carlo, Cristina Ramalho, Jocelyn Peyret, Asael Greenfeld, Ayala Ben Yosef, Judith Harvey, James O’Connor, Alison Hurst Emma Jack, Terry Farrell and others who have been so supportive and understanding and contributed to me having a wholesome life outside of my PhD. Thank you also to the other members of the Tealeaf Troubadours – Jaya Penelope, Jesse Williamson and Alex Hey and the poetry community, especially Jackson and Elio Novello for tolerating my busyness, engaging with my science poems and providing a creative outlet that has been an important part of the journey. Thank you to professionals Laura Harvey, Maria Arora and Hala Bitdorf who helped and taught me along the way.
Thanks to Tom Brooks, Peter Muirden, and Tim Sparks at Department of Water for their understanding and flexibility regarding work arrangements to facilitate field work and timely completion of my PhD. Thanks also to friends and colleagues at the Department; Gill White, Frances Miller, Renee Dixon, Shafiq Alam, Sue Tillman, Georgina Evans, Jaci Moore and others for their interest and encouragement.
Finally, I heartily thank my family for their support. Thank you to my amazing parents, Raul and Lesley, who taught me that I can do anything I wanted and then supported me morally and practically to do so, especially with nourishing food and funds when the going got tough. Thanks to my sister, Perla, for your understanding, the use of your car, and those wonderful Shabbat dinners that were the best antidote to a long hard week. Thank you to my lively little nieces, Izabell, Katana and Scarlett, who provided embodied reasons to work towards a more ecologically harmonious future, and persuaded me to play even when I hadn’t finished that manuscript. Thanks also to my family around the world for their love, encouragement, and understanding, especially the Abuahrons, the Cheniks, and the Glazners. Mbapani Ngitoria was a great support in my process of embarking on this PhD journey and choosing the project that I would pursue. Sunny Blundell-Wignall held my hand through the last part of this journey, and gave me steadfast support as well as helping me to balance work with rest and play. I thank him and also his family for putting up with my absences and being so understanding.