rebecca west

Rebecca West

Wild Deserts Ecologist
Field of Research
Reintroduction biology, ecology, species conservation

My research is focussed on reintroduction ecology and its role in ecosystem restoration. My PhD research focussed on assessing reintroduction as a tool for recovering populations of the endangered black-footed rock-wallaby in South Australia and I continue to act as a research consultant on the recovery team for this species. I have spent the past four years researching the role of in situ predation in improving predator avoidance behaviours of native species, and my research has also focussed on the role that the reintroduction of native predators could play in restoring ecosystem balance. I am also interested in examining the relationship between individual characteristics and survival following reintroduction to test whether selection for traits may be used to improve the outcomes of threatened species reintroductions.  I am currently developing ecological monitoring frameworks underpinned by research to enable the refinement of strategies for arid zone ecosystem restoration through the new Wild Deserts project.

I am the ecologist for the new Wild Deserts project. The project is a collaboration between UNSW Centre for Ecosystem Science and Ecological Horizons, in partnership with the NSW government Saving Our Species program. Wild Deserts aims to restore a 350 km2 area of Sturt National Park in the far north-west on NSW, through the removal of feral species and the reintroduction of seven native species which have been absent from the region for over 100 years.

In the Media:


Looking back to go forward: genetics informs future management of captive and reintroduced populations of the black-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis. Conservation Genetics19(1), 235-247. 2018

Discrimination of introduced predators by ontogenetically naïve prey scales with duration of shared evolutionary history. Animal Behaviour. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2018.01.013 2018

Designer prey: Can controlled predation accelerate selection for anti-predator traits in naïve populations? Biological Conservation217, 213-221. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2017.09.022 2018

Predator exposure improves anti-predator responses in a threatened mammal. Journal of Applied Ecology. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12947 2017

Monitoring for adaptive management in a trial reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby Petrogale lateralis. ORYX51(3), 554-563. doi:10.1017/S0030605315001490 2017

Testing the potential for supplementary water to support the recovery and reintroduction of the black-footed rock-wallaby. Wildlife Research44(3), 269-272. doi:10.1071/WR16181 2017

Deep evolutionary experience explains mammalian responses to predatorsBehavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. doi:10.1007/s00265-016-2181-4 2016

Reintroduction as a tool for the recovery of warru (Petrogale lateralis MacDonnell Ranges race) on the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands of South Australia (PhD thesis). 2014

Taming anxiety in laboratory miceNature methods7(10), 825. 2010

+61 8 8091 3881

Fort Grey Homestead10755 Cameron Corner RoadTibooburra NSW 2880