I am a Senior lecturer in Conservation Ecology and the leader of the Conflict Ecology Lab that investigates the behavioural and ecological solutions that animals use to deal with conflict. Conflict in an ecological context broadly refers to how organisms deal with conflict with an adversary (predator/herbivore), competitor or environmental stressor. The solutions that plants and animals use to deal with conflict are incredibly diverse as expressed by the variation in traits such as morphology, behaviour, and ecology. By understanding the ecological drivers and evolutionary constraints imposed on organisms that are dealing with adversity we hope to provide solid foundations for robust conservation initiatives.
Teaching and supervision
Programme coordinator for Masters in Conservation and Ecology.
- Taxonomy and Identification
- Careers Development and Research Skills
- Research Projects
a. The ecological and conservation significance of vertical living
An ecological niche poorly understood is the humble tree trunk. The surface of tree trunks despite their stoic appearance are highly variable and even seasonally dynamic. To survive in such an environment organisms must cope with the difficulty of environmental and predatory exposure. This has led to a niche of tree trunk fauna with a range of highly specialised traits.
b. The adaptive role of transformative defences and attacks
When we consider predator attack or prey defences we tend to focus on one life stage whether that be the juveniles or adults. In reality juveniles and adults are often faced with different levels of risk and constraints. The extreme versions are animals that undertake stark transitions from and during juvenile stages and even into adulthood. These include animals that undertake ontogenetic colour change, transformation mimicry or switching of predatory tactics that may coincide with switches in diet.
c. The importance of secondary defences
Primary defences get all of the press. But animals have strategies that are required if their primary defences are ineffective. Strategic understanding of secondary defences is not as well considered as in primary defence. One of those areas is the use of defensive chemicals which have various modes of delivery modified for different predators and contexts.
d. The biological importance of illusion
A potentially less costly approach to prey defence or predatory attack is through the use of illusions. Batesian mimics and predatory lurers are at the two ends of this spectrum with one duping predators into thinking they are distasteful and costly to consume while the other dupes prey by providing stimuli that encourage prey to engage. Understanding the ecological and evolutionary significance of mimicry and luring behaviour is a longtime passion.
e. Increasing student employability through transformative practice
I strongly feel that university is only useful if graduates are provided with a solid foundation tailored to maximising employability. I am particularly interested in transformative practice - the skill set that is necessary to ensure graduates are not just participants in the workplace but drivers of change, innovation and knowledge creators.
Centres and institutes
Mohammadi S, Yang L, Bulbert M, Rowland HM, 'Defence mitigation by predators of chemically defended prey integrated over the predation sequence and across biological levels with a focus on cardiotonic steroids'
Royal Society Open Science 9 (9) (2022)
ISSN: 2054-5703 eISSN: 2054-5703Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Herberstein ME, McLean DJ, Lowe E, Wolff JO, Khan MK, Smith K, Allen AP, Bulbert M, Buzatto BA, Eldridge MDB, Falster D, Fernandez Winzer L, Griffith SC, Madin JS, Narendra A, Westoby M, Whiting MJ, Wright IJ, Carthey AJR, 'AnimalTraits - a curated animal trait database for body mass, metabolic rate and brain size'
Scientific Data 9 (1) (2022)
ISSN: 2052-4463 eISSN: 2052-4463Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Lin-Stephens S, Manuguerra M, Bulbert MW, 'Seeing is relieving: effects of serious storytelling with images on interview performance anxiety'
Multimedia Tools and Applications 81 (16) (2022) pp.23399-23420
ISSN: 1380-7501 eISSN: 1573-7721Abstract Published here Open Access on RADAR
Pekar S, Garcia LF, Bulbert MW, 'Spiders mimic the acoustic signalling of mutillid wasps to avoid predation: startle signalling or Batesian mimicry?'
Animal Behaviour 170 (2020) pp.157-166
ISSN: 0003-3472Abstract Published here
O'Hanlon JC, Jones BR, Bulbert MW, 'The dynamic eggs of the Phasmatodea and their apparent convergence with plants'
Science of Nature 107 (4) (2020)
ISSN: 0028-1042 eISSN: 1432-1904Abstract Published here
Jones BR, Bulbert MW, 'Directed chemical spray of the peppermint stick insect (Megacrania batesii) is induced when predation risk is at its highest'
Journal of Ethology 38 (1) (2020) pp.51-59
ISSN: 0289-0771 eISSN: 1439-5444Abstract Published here
Lin-Stephens S, Kubicki JM, Jones F, Whiting MJ, Uesi J, Bulbert MW, 'Building student employability through interdisciplinary collaboration: an Australian Case Study'
College and Undergraduate Libraries (2019) pp.234-251
ISSN: 1069-1316 eISSN: 1545-2530Abstract Published here
Bulbert MW, White TE, Saporito RA, Kraus F, 'Ontogenetic colour change in Oreophryne ezra (Anura: Microhylidae) reflects an unusual shift from conspicuousness to crypsis but not in toxicity'
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 123 (1) (2018) pp.12-20
ISSN: 0024-4066 eISSN: 1095-8312Abstract Published here
Painting CJ, Nicholson CC, Bulbert MW, Norma-Rashid Y, Li D, 'Nectary feeding and guarding behavior by a tropical jumping spider'
Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 15 (8) (2017) pp.469-470
ISSN: 1540-9295Published here
Pekar S, Petrakova L, Bulbert MW, Whiting MJ, Herberstein ME, 'The golden mimicry complex uses a wide spectrum of defence to deter a community of predators'
eLife 6 (2017)
ISSN: 2050-084X eISSN: 2050-084XAbstract Published here
Bulbert M, Wignall A, 'Luring'
Current Biology 26 (23) (2016) pp.R1212-R1213
ISSN: 0960-9822 eISSN: 1879-0445Published here
Cooke J, Lanfear R, Downing A, Gillings MR, Poore AGB, Goodwin ID, Waldron LS, Phillips A, Metti Y, Bulbert MW, 'The unusual occurrence of green algal balls of Chaetomorpha linum on a beach in Sydney, Australia'
Botanica Marina 58 (5) (2015) pp.401-407
ISSN: 0006-8055 eISSN: 1437-4323Abstract Published here
Bulbert MW, Page RA, Bernal XE, 'Danger comes from all fronts: Predator-dependent escape tactics of túngara frogs'
PLoS ONE 10 (4) (2015)
ISSN: 1932-6203 eISSN: 1932-6203Abstract Published here
Bulbert MW, O'Hanlon JC, Zappettini S, Zhang S, Li D, 'Sexually selected UV signals in the tropical ornate jumping spider, C osmophasis umbratica may incur costs from predation'
Ecology and Evolution 5 (4) (2015) pp.914-920
ISSN: 2045-7758 eISSN: 2045-7758Abstract Published here
Bulbert MW, Herberstein ME, Cassis G, 'Assassin bug requires dangerous ant prey to bite first'
Current Biology 24 (6) (2014)
ISSN: 0960-9822 eISSN: 1879-0445Abstract Published here
Gollan JR, Smith HM, Bulbert M, Donnelly AP, Wilkie L, 'Using spider web types as a substitute for assessing web-building spider biodiversity and the success of habitat restoration'
Biodiversity and Conservation 19 (11) (2010) pp.3141-3155
ISSN: 0960-3115 eISSN: 1572-9710Abstract Published here
Weirauch C, Bulbert M, Cassis G, 'Comparative trichome morphology in feather-legged assassin bugs (Insecta: Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Holoptilinae)'
Zoologischer Anzeiger 248 (4) (2010) pp.237-253
ISSN: 0044-5231Abstract Published here
Ashcroft MB, Gollan JR, Faith DP, Carter GA, Lassau SA, Ginn SG, Bulbert MW, Cassis G, 'Using Generalised Dissimilarity Models and many small samples to improve the efficiency of regional and landscape scale invertebrate sampling'
Ecological Informatics 5 (2) (2010) pp.124-132
ISSN: 1574-9541Abstract Published here
Ginn S, Britton D, Bulbert M, 'Correction of a record of Elodina Walkeri Butler (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) from the Pilbara region of Western Australia (Australian Entomologist (2009) 36:3)'
Australian Entomologist 36 (3) (2009)
ISSN: 1320-6133 eISSN: 1320-6133Published here
Bulbert MW, Offler CE, McCurdy DW, 'Polarized microtubule deposition coincides with wall ingrowth formation in transfer cells of Vicia faba L. cotyledons'
Protoplasma 201 (1/2) (1998) pp.8-16
ISSN: 0033-183X eISSN: 1615-6102Abstract Published here