A fascination with wildlife acquired while growing up in South Africa led me to study science at the Australian National University (1992) where I completed an Honours project investigating the function of duetting in Australian magpie-larks (friends studying economics and physics were bemused that someone could enjoy their studies so much). After some exploring, I returned to research to pursue my fascination with magpie-lark duets further, completing a PhD at the Australian National University (2001), supervised by Prof Robert Magrath. I then moved to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in the USA for a postdoctoral position, and developed my skills in bioacoustic research with work in Costa Rica on the communication system of banded wrens with Prof Sandra Vehrencamp (2002-2005). I abandoned my migratory lifestyle for a Max Planck Institute for Ornithology post-doc (2006-2010) with Dr Anne Peters , based at the Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s Mornington Wildlife Sanctuary researching purple-crowned fairy-wrens, the timing of breeding in the tropics, and dispersal patterns of riparian specialists occupying patchy habitat. I then worked on a number of other fairy-wren species with A/Prof Raoul Mulder at the University of Melbourne, including research on individual differences in the behaviour of superb fairy-wrens in collaboration with Prof Niels Dingemanse and Prof Bart Kempenaers, as well as song complexity and plumage colour in Australian fairy-wrens, with a focus on females, in collaboration with Dr Naomi Langmore, Dr Kaspar Delhey, and Dr Kristal Cain and PhD student Ana Leitao. I also used bioacoustic approaches to assess the effects of artificial light at night on animal behaviour and fitness, in collaboration with Dr Theresa Jones and PhD student Ashton Dickerson.
In 2018 I moved from academia to focus on conserving our dwindling biodiversity, first in a short-term contract with the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and then in a permanent position with Bush Heritage Australia, based in Perth as an Adjunct at the University of Western Australia’s School of Biological Sciences. I am now exploring how to most effectively use a diversity of monitoring methods to understand population trajectories of native species, and the threats they face.
2019 – cont. Senior Ecologist – West, Bush Heritage Australia;
Adjunct Senior Research Fellow, University of Western Australia;
Honorary Fellow, University of Melbourne.
2018 Senior Ecologist, Australian Wildlife Conservancy
2011 – 2017 Research Fellow, School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne
2006 – 2010 Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Germany
2002 – 2005 Postdoctoral Associate, Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, USA
2001 PhD, Australian National University
Email: michelle.hallATbushheritage.org.au; hall.mATunimelb.edu.au