I am interested in the intersection of animal behavior and ecology: how does ecology affect the behavior of animals and how can the behavior of animals affect their ecosystems? To this end, I’ve studied a variety of mammal species such as: ring-tailed and white-nosed coatis, beach mice, agoutis, raccoons, and capuchin monkeys. My work has focused on social behavior, predator-prey interactions, seed dispersal, urban ecology, movement ecology, and disease ecology. My current research seeks to understand basic and applied behavioral ecology questions in the Queensland wet tropics region.

  • BS2460: Fundamentals of Ecology (Level 2; TSV)
  • BS5460: Fundamentals of Ecology (Level 5; TSV)
  • BZ2490: Toolkit for the Field Biologist (Level 2; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ3061: Behavioural Ecology (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ3220: Population and Community Ecology (Level 3; TSV)
  • BZ3225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ5061: Behavioural Ecology (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ5220: Population and Community Ecology (Level 5; TSV)
  • BZ5225: Technological Applications in Ecology (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ5990: Toolkit for the Field Biologist (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • Behavioral ecology Seed dispersal Predator-prey interactions Social behavior Urban ecology Movement ecology Disease ecology
  • 2014 to 2015 - Post-doctoral researcher, University of Florida (Pensacola, FL)
  • 2011 to 2014 - Post-doctoral researcher, The Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
  • 2008 to 2011 - Post-doctoral researcher, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama)
  • 2007 to 2008 - Post-doctoral fellow, Smithsonian Institute (Washington DC)
  • 2007 - Resident professor, Organization for Tropical Studies (Costa Rica)
Research Disciplines

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles
Book Chapters

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 38+ research outputs authored by Dr Ben Hirsch from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Understanding population growth time lags in invasive species: Chital deer as a model system.

Indicative Funding
$394,015 over 5 years, in partnership with QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries ($80,000)
Lags in population growth of introduced species are common, but poorly understood. Chital deer (Axis axis) are an invasive species introduced to Australia over 130 years ago, but their numbers have only increased dramatically in the past 30-40 years. We will use data collected from wild animals, landholder surveys, and computer simulation models to clarify causes of sudden population expansion in more detail. Understanding lags will allow us to understand their causes, and better control populations of invasive species. By predicting drivers of rapid population growth, we can better mitigate the associated economic and environmental costs of invasive species.
Ben Hirsch, Lin Schwarzkopf and Jan Strugnell in collaboration with Tony Pople (College of Science & Engineering and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
chital (Axis axis); Invasive Species; landscape geneticfs; beef production demography; deer

Human Frontier Science Program - Research Grant

Communication and coordination of collective behaviour across spatial scales in animal societies

Indicative Funding
$324,302 over 5 years (administered by University of Konstanz)
We will test commonalities and differences in group coordination tasks using spatial movement and active communication in three species of social mammals.
Ari Standburg-Peshkin, Ben Hirsch, Kay Holekamp, Marta Manser and Marie Roch (Universitat Konstanz, College of Science & Engineering, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Universitat Zurich and San Diego State University)
Coati (Nasua narica); animal tracking; group coordination; computer models; Communication; animal vocalizations

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Rainforest Protection Grant

Determinants of spatial variation in population density in a tropical folivore community: conservation implications in a changing environment

Indicative Funding
$10,000 over 2 years
Climate change is the greatest threat to the preservation of global biodiversity. Our capacity to predict species? vulnerability and make informed conservation management decisions relies on understanding processes that control species population size. However, the factors that limit species populations are generally unknown due to the intrinsic difficulties of studying species across their entire range. This project will study the factors that limit the populations of ringtail possums in the Australian Wet Tropics at a landscape scale. The empirical knowledge gained will be used to forecast species response to a changing thermal, nutritional, and toxicological environment using mechanistic niche modelling.
Alejandro de la Fuente Pinero, Stephen Williams and Ben Hirsch (College of Science & Engineering)
Climate Change; Macroecology; Animal-plant interaction; Pseudocheiridae; conservatiion biology; Landscape ecology

Wet Tropics Management Authority - Student Research Grant Scheme

Feral cats in the North Queensland Wet Tropics region: understanding the behavioural and ecological interactions that affect conservation outcomes.

Indicative Funding
$3,945 over 2 years
The project aims to determine how feral cats, as an invasive pest species, are influencing native biodiversity and trophic interactions within the wet tropics landscape. This project will address the knowledge gap surrounding the ecosystem level impacts of feral cats and whether they pose a major threat to native species in the region. We will investigate how cats are distributed throughout the habitat and test if human development e.g. roads are facilitating access into protected areas. If significant cat populations are found within the region, we will identify their likely ecological effects, which will lead to evidenced based mitigation strategies.
Thomas Bruce, Ben Hirsch and Stephen Williams (College of Science & Engineering)
Feral Cat; Camera-trapping; Occupancy; Habitat Preference; Population Ecology; Species Interactions

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Determinants of spatial variation in population density in a tropical folivore community: Conservation implications in a changing environment (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Demographic, genetic and dietary analysis of introduced chital deer (axis axis) in the North Queensland dry tropics (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Feral cat ecology in the Australian Wet Tropics; Occupancy, interactions, and management. (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Interactions between bettongs, their environment and the net effect on grazing land (Masters , Secondary Advisor)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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