Applied ecology & environmental change research group

The mission of The Applied Ecology and Environmental Change Research Group (AEEC) at VU is to provide high-quality multidisciplinary scientific research that is relevant, practical and applicable.

Our goal is to achieve environmentally sound solutions at the local, national and international level.

Research focus

The health of many species, ecosystems and human societies worldwide is threatened by unprecedented environmental change, including increased habitat loss, overexploitation, pest species invasions and climate change.

In Australia, protection of threatened species and ecosystems is a priority that has been enshrined in legislative acts, and climate change is identified as the greatest threat to human health.

Improving decision-making to mitigate the effects of ongoing species loss and climate change requires applied research that addresses the cumulative impacts of environmental change.

Our research, therefore, has a practical focus, resulting in quantitative information provided to state, federal and international environmental agencies. It is used to positively influence the protection, rehabilitation and resilience of threatened species, ecosystems and human communities to climate change and other environmental hazards.

Annett Finger


We have expertise in these areas:

  • Ecology and management of inland and coastal wetlands
  • Grassland and orchid ecology, genetics and management
  • Molecular markers and candidate gene identification to assist accelerated crop breeding in agronomically important plants and endangered species conservation.
  • Striped Legless Lizard ecology and management.
  • Citizen Science: community engagement and co-created project development
  • Indigenous knowledge for improved climate resilience 
  • Population genetics and gene flow in fragmented landscapes
  • Behavioural ecology with a focus on interspecific interactions
  • Spatial ecology: GIS, home range, species distribution and landscape connectivity modelling
  • Multidisciplinary research and collaboration
  • Remote fieldwork
  • Applied conservation management
Randall Robinson, VU researcher

Track record & international reputation

Applied Ecology and Environmental Change has been a key distinctive research area at Victoria University for well over a decade.

Our reputation for applied research has attracted a large cohort of research students from various countries around the world, including Germany, Bangladesh and Thailand.

Publications & editorial boards

We publish widely and are particularly well recognised in the applied areas of wildlife behaviour, ecology and management, human-wildlife conflict, Indigenous Ecological Knowledge, molecular biology and ecology, ornithology, botany and the impacts and management of pollution.

Members are on editorial panels of several internationally recognised journals, and participate regularly in international conferences. 


Our researchers are members of various international and national committees and industry bodies, including:

  • Species Identification Task Force of the American Orchid Society
  • Cymbidium Society of America
  • Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors.

All of our members represent our group on industry consultative committees and scientific advisory committees. We are committee members of the:

  • Society of Conservation Biology (SCB)
  • Ecological Society of Australia (ESA)
  • Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA)
  • Indigenous Weather and Climate Special Interest Group for the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society (AMOS) Indigenous Knowledge of climate and weather in the Pacific.

Industry engagement

State & federal organisations

We have worked closely with a range of state and federal organisations.

Of note is our work with the following groups:

  • Murray Darling Commission
  • Bureau of Meteorology
  • The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (VIC)
  • Parks Victoria
  • Melbourne Water
  • Zoos Victoria
  • Phillip Island Nature Parks
  • Department of Natural Resource Management (WA).

We have obtained grants from all of the above organisations to address specific management driven research.

We are a member of the Victorian Marine Science Consortium and as such work with a large group of universities and government organisations to achieve strong marine-based research outcomes.

Community engagement

Community engagement is a particular focus of the Applied Ecology and Environmental Change Research Group, with members regularly interacting with community and industry groups including:

  • Greening Australia
  • Trust for Nature
  • Victorian National Parks Association
  • Greening Australia
  • The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria
  • EarthWatch (ClimateWatch) and BirdLife Australia
  • Cymbidium Society of America.
Rhino environmental protection work


Media interest


Find out about our staff and read their biographies via the links. Read about our current student research projects.

Contact us

Dr Roan Plotz
Leader, Applied Ecology & Environmental Change Research Group
Phone: +61 3 9919 5709
Email: [email protected]

Dr Christine Connelly
Deputy Leader, Applied Ecology & Environmental Change Research Group
Phone: +61 3 9919 5836
Email: [email protected]