Associate Professor Karl Vernes

Associate Professor - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Karl Vernes

Phone: +61 2 6773 3255


Twitter: @KarlVernes


I have an M.Sc. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Zoology and Tropical Ecology from James Cook University. Before coming to UNE, I did a 3 year  Postdoctoral Fellowship as the McCain Postdoctoral Fellow in the Biology Department at Mount Allison University, New Brunswick, Canada where I researched the ecology of flying squirrels, taught courses in Mammalogy and Conservation Biology, and supervised undergraduate research students. After a short lecturing stint at James Cook University (Cairns), I joined the Discipline of Ecosystem Management at UNE in 2003.

My research aims to provide a greater understanding of mammal ecology than can assist in better conservation and management outcomes for mammal species and communities. In addition to work in Australia and New Guinea where I have primarily focused on kangaroos and other marsupials, my research interests have led me to Canada – where I worked on mycophagous (fungus-eating) squirrels, Bhutan – where I currently work on protecting biological corridors for iconic cats including tiger and leopard, and Mexico – where I have an on-going project on use of cenotes by mammals including jaguar and puma.


  • B.Sc. in Zoology and Marine Biology (James Cook University, 1989)
  • M.Sc. in Zoology (James Cook University, 1995)
  • Ph.D. in Zoology and Tropical Ecology (James Cook University, 2000)


Teaching Areas

Primary Research Area/s

Australian mammal ecology and conservation; Ecology of kangaroos and wallabies; Himalayan mammal ecology; Threatened species research

Research Interests

Mammal Ecology Group


(2014 - present)

Sangay, T., Rajaratnam, R., and Vernes, K. (2019). Mammal richness and diversity in a Himalayan hotspot: the role of protected areas in the conservation of Bhutan’s mammals. Biodiversity and Conservation (in press).

Thinley, P. Rajaratnam, R., Tighe, M. Vernes, K. Norbu, T., Dorji, R. and Tenzin, S. (2019). Understanding primate-human interaction: Socio-economic correlates of local awareness and attitude towards the endangered golden langur Trachypithecus geei (Khajuria, 1956) in Bhutan. American Journal of Primatology [in press].

Sangay, T., Rajaratnam, R., Vernes, K. and Tighe, M. (2019). Local knowledge and perception of the vulnerable Bhutan takin (Budorcas whitei) among residents living within its seasonal range. Oryx

Elliott, T.F. and Vernes, K. (2019). Superb Lyrebird Menura novaehollandiae mycophagy, truffles and soil disturbance. Ibis 161: 198–204.

Morgan, H.R., Ballard, G., Fleming, P.J.S., Reid, N.C.H., Van der Ven, R. and Vernes, K. (2018). Estimating macropod grazing density and defining activity patterns using camera trap image analysis. Wildlife Research 45: 706–717.

Dorji, S., Rajaratnam, R., Falconi, L., Williams, S.E., Sinha, P., Vernes, K. (2018). Identifying conservation priorities for threatened Eastern Himalayan mammals. Conservation Biology 32: 1162–1173.

Whitehead, T., Vernes, K., Goosem, M. Abell, S.E. (2018). Invasive predators represent the greatest extinction threat to the endangered northern bettong (Bettongia tropica). Wildlife Research 45: 208–219.

Henderson, T., Vernes, K., Körtner, G. and Rajaratnam, R. (2018). Using GPS technology to understand spatial and temporal activity of kangaroos in a peri-urban environment. Animals 8(6): 97; doi: 10.3390/ani8060097

Kennedy, B., Brown, W.Y., Vernes, K., Körtner, G., Butler, J.R.A. (2018). Dog and cat roaming behaviours and interactions in a remote Aboriginal community. Animals 8(5): 65;

Henderson, T., Rajaratnam, R. and Vernes, K. (2018). Population density of eastern grey kangaroos (Macropus giganteus) in a periurban matrix at Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. Australian Mammalogy 40: 312–314

Thinley, P. Rajaratnam, R. Lassoie, J.P. Vernes, K., Stephen J. Morreale, S.J., Curtis, P.D., Leki L., Phuntsho, S. Dorji, T. and  Dorji, P. (2018). The ecological benefit of tigers (Panthera tigris) to farmers in reducing crop and livestock losses in the eastern Himalayas: Implications for conservation of large apex predators. Biological Conservation 219: 119–125.

Thinley, P. Lassoie, J.P., Morreale, S.J., Curtis, P.D., Rajaratnam, R. Vernes, K., Leki, L., Phuntsho, S., Dorji, S., and Dorji, P. (2017). High relative abundance of wild ungulates near agricultural croplands in a livestock-dominated landscape in Western Bhutan: Implications for crop damage and protection. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 248: 88–95.

Nuske, S.J, Vernes, K., May T.W., Claridge, A.W., Congdon, B.C., Krockenberger, A. and Abell, S.E. (2017). Data on the fungal species consumed by mammal species in Australia. Data in Brief 12: 251-260.

Nuske, S.J, Vernes, K., May T.W., Claridge, A.W., Congdon, B.C., Krockenberger, A. and Abell, S.E. (2017). Redundancy among mammalian fungal dispersers and the importance of declining specialists. Fungal Ecology 27: 1–13.

Sangay, T., Rajaratnam, R. and Vernes, K. (2016). Current distribution and conservation status of Bhutan Takin Budorcas whitei Lydekker, 1907 (Artiodactyla: Bovidae). Journal of Threatened Taxa 8: 9630–9637

Cotsell, N. and Vernes, K. (2016). Camera traps in the canopy: surveying wildlife at tree hollow entrances. Pacific Conservation Biology 22: 48 – 60.  doi: 10.1071/PC15030

Meek, P. and Vernes, K. (2016). Can camera trapping be used to accurately survey and monitor the Hastings River mouse (Pseudomys oralis)?  Australian Mammalogy 38: 44–51.

Ryder, D., Vernes, K., Dorji, L., Armstrong, S., Brem, C., Di Donato, R., Frost, L., and Simpson, I. (2015). Experimental effects of reduced flow velocity on water quality and macroinvertebrate communities: implications for hydropower development in Bhutan. Proceedings of the Bhutan Ecological Society 2: 1–21.

Vernes, K., Cooper, T., Green, S. (2015). Seasonal fungal diets of small mammals in an Australian temperate forest ecosystem. Fungal Ecology 18: 107–114.

Clayton, J.A., Pavey, C.R., Vernes, K., and Jefferys, E. (2015). Diet of mala (Lagorchestes hirsutus) at Uluru–Kata Tjuta National Park and comparison with that of historic free-ranging mala in the Tanami Desert: implications for management and future reintroductions. Australian Mammalogy 37: 201–211.

Vernes, K., Sangay, T., Rajaratnam, R., and Singye, R. (2015). Social interaction and co-occurrence of colour morphs of the Asiatic golden cat, Bhutan. Cat News 62: 18–20.

Meek, P., Ballard, G., Fleming, P. and Vernes, K. (2015). The History of Wildlife Camera Trapping as a survey tool in Australia. Australian Mammalogy 37: 1–12.

Sangay, T. and Vernes, K. (2014). The economic cost of wild mammalian carnivores to farmers in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan. Proceedings of the Bhutan Ecological Society 1: 98–111.

Vernes, K. and Jarman, P. (2014). Foraging behaviour and handling times for long-nosed potoroos (Potorous tridactylus) foraging for buried truffles.  Australian Mammalogy 36: 128–130.

Vernes, K. (2014). Seasonal truffle consumption by long-nosed bandicoots (Perameles nasuta) in a mixed rainforest-open forest community in north-eastern New South Wales.  Australian Mammalogy 36: 113–115.

Clayton, J. Pavey, C., Vernes, K. and Tighe, M. (2014). Review and analysis of Australian macropod translocations 1969 – 2006.  Mammal Review 44: 109–123.

Zewe, F. Meek, P., Ford, H. and Vernes, K. (2014). A vertical bait station for black rats (Rattus rattus) that reduces bait take by a sympatric native rodent.  Australian Mammalogy 36: 67–73.


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