Dr Kylie Cairns

Dr Kylie Cairns

Research Fellow
Field of Research
Conservation Genetics and Biology, Population Genetics, Canids, Evolutionary Genetics

I am an early career researcher specialising in molecular biology and conservation genetics. My undergraduate (BSc) and postgraduate (PhD) training was completed at the University of New South Wales. Between 2012 and 2014, I managed a genetic testing service to estimate domestic dog introgression in dingoes, after being trained by the late A/Prof Alan Wilton. In 2017, I started working at the Centre for Ecosystem Science as a postdoctoral researcher. This has enabled me to start an independent research project continuing and developing my PhD studies on biogeographic variation in dingoes. Together with Professor Mike Letnic and A/Prof Mathew Crowther, partnering with the Australian Dingo Foundation, we are investigating the utility of next-generation SNP technology to estimate genetic admixture in dingoes. This data will drive research into important scientific questions concerning the origin, biogeography and conservation of dingoes but also provide a model for the process of genetic admixture.

I am actively involved in scientific communication, to disseminate the findings of research about dingoes to the public and stakeholders. I am a scientific advisor to the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society, New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation and Australian Dingo Foundation. I am also a board member of the Colong Foundation for Wildlife.

Research Activities

I am carrying out a citizen science project using DNA testing of dingoes and wild canids in Australia to investigate the occurrence of dingo x dog hybridisation and the evolutionary history of dingoes. To contribute samples to the research please email me (k.cairns@unsw.edu.au). Samples can come from wild rescue dingoes, roadkill or animals killed as part of wild dog management activities. I also DNA test captive dingoes used in conservation breeding programs. If you are a landholder, wildlife manager, local government or conservation group that wishes to carry out DNA testing on a larger set of samples to inform management and conservation practices please get in contact directly, I frequently consult on this type of project and am open to future collaborations.

Donations towards my research can be made at https://alumni.unsw.edu.au/giving/SCI/DingoGenetics.

Project updates can be see on Facebook by following @DingoGeneticsResearch.

My broad research interests include using genetics and genomics to investigate patterns of diversity, adaption, evolutionary history and demography. My primary focus currently is the use of genomics to inform conservation and management practices of wild animals, particularly those where genetic admixture is a concern.


(G14) Samuels Building, Centre for Ecosystem Science, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences , UNSW Australia, Sydney NSW 2052, ,