My research examines broad ecological and evolutionary questions, including applied problems.  I take an integrative approach, using a combination of controlled experiments and observational studies to test hypotheses.  Much of my research has used reptiles and amphibians as model systems, but I am broadly interested in a variety of groups.

I am interested in the relationship between vertebrates and habitat structure, and study habitat use and shelter site selection, predator avoidance and thermoregulation, as they relate to habitat.  These interests have lead me to study the influence of various anthropogenic effects, such as logging, grazing, and weeds and their control, on vertebrate populations. 

The amphibian disease, chytridiomycosis, is strongly influenced by the environment selected by host amphibians.  Thus, behaviour and habitat selection by amphibians have important effects on disease dynamics in this system, and these relationships have drawn me to study this system in collaboration with colleagues at JCU and elsewhere.

Invasive species, as predators, prey and competitors can have negative effects on native species.  I am presently attempting to exploit the signalling system of cane toads to selectively remove mature reproductive individuals from populations, as a means of local control of these pests.  In addition, I co-supervise a PhD student at Washington State University working on landscape genetics of toads.  We hope to test hypotheses about the spread of toads since their introduction, and their adaptation to the Australian environment.

Adaptation to environmental pressures has lead to many amazing animal charactersitics.  Lizard skin shows adaptations ranging from high to low adhesivness and from superhydrophobicity to rapid water transport, depending on species and their environments.  I have been examining these traits with collaborators in chemistry and physics at JCU, and from the University of Idaho.

For more information see my Vertebrate Ecology Lab website.

  • AG1007: Introduction to Plants and Animals for Veterinary Science (Level 1; TSV)
  • BS1001: Introduction to Biological Processes (Level 1; TSV)
  • BZ1001: Introduction to Biological Processes (Level 1; TSV)
  • BZ1007: Introduction to Biodiversity (Level 1; TSV)
  • BZ2705: Australian Vertebrate Fauna (Level 2; TSV)
  • BZ3001: Field Studies in the Equatorial Tropics: Borneo (Level 3; TSV)
  • BZ3215: Conservation Biology (Level 3; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ5215: Conservation Biology (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • BZ5705: Australian Vertebrate Fauna (Level 5; TSV)
  • SC5901: Special Topic 1 (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5902: Special Topic 2 (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5903: Literature Review (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5909: Minor Project and Seminar (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5912: Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (1 of 2) (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • SC5913: Minor Project, Seminar and Literature Review (2 of 2) (Level 5; CNS & TSV)
  • Relationship between vertebrates and habitat structure
  • Behaviour and habitat selection
  • Signalling system of cane toads
  • 2007 - Dean’s Award for Best Research Group JCU
  • 1986 - Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postgraduate Fellowship
  • 1984 - Queensland Federation of University Women - Audrey Jorss, Freda Freeman Fellowship
  • 1995 to 1997 - JCU Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1993 to 1995 - Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 1991 to 1993 - CSIRO Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

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

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 118+ research outputs authored by Prof Lin Schwarzkopf from 1983 onwards.

Current Funding

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

WV Scott Charitable Trust - Research Grant

Tackling Frog Disease

Indicative Funding
Chytridiomycois is one of the most dramatic and important emerging infectious diseases in wildlife. It is caused by a fungal pathogen (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis or Bd), which parasitizes the skin of amphibians. This highly contagious pathogen has been responsible for making frogs the most endangered vertebrates on earth. Remarkably, some populations that experienced drastic declines have recovered, and now appear to coexist with the fungus, but the nature of their recovery remains a mystery. There are a a range of possible complex and interacting reasons why frog populations may coexist with this disease, which could be evolutionary, behavioural, environmental, or ecological. We are examining possible reasons for coexistence, to find approaches to aid populations that persist but are not recovering.
Lin Schwarzkopf and Deborah Bower (College of Science & Engineering)
Frog; Disease; Recovery; infection dynamics

Qld Dept of Transport and Main Roads - Contract Research

The Provision of Research Into BTF

Indicative Funding
We Will study the habitat required for BTFs, offset requirements and quality, and the impact of roads on BTFs.
Lin Schwarzkopf in collaboration with April Reside and Helene Marsh (College of Science & Engineering)
Birds; Ecology; Offsets; Threatened Species

Skyrail Rainforest Foundation - Research Funding

Evolution and ecological adaptations of microornamentation in Australian geckos (Gekkota, Squamata)

Indicative Funding
The Project aims to investigate the adaptive radiation of skin microstructures (microornamentation), in Australian geckos. Geckos are widely distributed across Australia, covering all kind of ecosystems and habitat types. The microornamentation will be examined in three ways: at first, the function must be clarified. Then the evolution of these structures will be reconstructed with phylogenetic methods. Afterwards, the microornamentation will be analysed regarding the ecology (habitat use, lifestyle, abiotic factors) of the species, to detect and define ectomorphs. This will help us to understand, who reptiles cope to adapt to different and changing environmental conditions.
Jendrian Riedel, Lin Schwarzkopf and Ben Hirsch (College of Science & Engineering)
Microornamentation; Evolution; Gekkota; Ecomorphology

QLD Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation - Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grants

AB3 - Australian Backyard Bird Box: Connecting School Students to the Environment

Indicative Funding
AB3 (an IoT device with a touch screen) will be deployed in Townsville schools. AB3 will: provide games to encourage students to learn local bird calls; record bird calls within the school area; encourage students to identify the recorded calls; and send these identified calls over the internet to help researcher to develop tools for monitor bird diversity. AB3 will leverage students? like of technology and animals to engage them with STEM, their local environment, and local research activities.
Mangalam Sankupellay, Lin Schwarzkopf, Paul Roe and Margot Brereton (College of Business, Law & Governance, College of Science & Engineering and Queensland University of Technology)
Ubiquitous Computing; Engagement; Internet Of Things

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Infrastructure (L-IEF)

Australian Acoustic Observatory: A Network to Monitor Biodiversity

Indicative Funding
$900,000 (administered by QUT)
Acoustic sensing is transforming environmental science by recording vocal species 24 x 7, providing data of unparalleled spatial and temporal resolution for ecosystem monitoring and research. This is particularly relevant to Australia's fragile and mega-diverse environment and Australia has leading research expertise in this emerging field. The proposed observatory will be the world's largest terrestrial acoustic sensor network comprising 450 listening stations deployed across Australia. Funds will purchase autonomous sound recorders and online storage and processing hardware. Data will be freely available to all online, enabling new science in understanding ecosystems, long-term environmental change, data visualisation and acoustic science.
Paul Roe, David Watson, Richard Fuller, Stuart Parsons, Tomasc Bednarz, Margot Brereton, Lin Schwarzkopf, Dale Nimmo, Berndt Janse van Rensburg, Martine Maron, Marcus Sheaves, Paul McDonald and Gary Luck (Queensland University of Technology, Charles Sturt University, The University of Queensland, College of Science & Engineering and The University of New England)

Australian Research Council - Linkage - Projects

Call out and listen in: A new way to detect and control invasive species

Indicative Funding
$593,519 over 4 years, in partnership with Anindilyakwa Land Council ($229,000 over 3 yrs)
Invasive species can cause extinctions. Invasive amphibians are an under-appreciated but serious ecological problem in worldwide, because they are voracious predators, and are often toxic to native species. Male frogs call to attract mates, and answer calls they hear. Using new acoustic technologies, these behaviours can be exploited to (1) detect species and enable control, and (ii) attract gravid females for removal. This project aims combine an early warning system (electronic listening) and trap (calling and catching), which can be customised to any invasive frog, and use it to detect and remove cane toads, especially in low density populations. The goal of the project is to provide and test means to protect native species.
Lin Schwarzkopf and Paul Roe (College of Science & Engineering and Queensland University of Technology)
Rhinella Marina; new technology; Ecology; Invasive Species

WV Scott Charitable Trust - Research Grant

Greater glider (Petauroides Volans) mechanisms for adaptation in extreme environments

Indicative Funding
Greater gliders north of the Tropic of Capricorn are half the size of those occurring in southern Australia and may constitute a subspecies. The mechanism behind these size differences in endotherms is highly controversial. The prevailing theory is heat conservation, due to a decreased surface area to mass ratio in larger animals; however alternative mechanisms have been suggested. This study will be the first to examine divergence in their phylogeny, physiology and differences in thermal tolerance between populations ranging from tropical to temperate forests. Underlying mechanisms will be investigated including water/nutrient availability, seasonality, thermal responses, microhabitat, insulation, and predator/competitor pressure.
Denise McGregor, Andrew Krockenberger, Lin Schwarzkopf and Sarah Kerr (College of Science & Engineering and Research Infrastructure)
Bergmann?s rule; Thermoregulation; Greater glider; Petauroides Volans- Pseudocheiridae; Body Size; Genetic divergence

Australian Society of Herpetologists - Student Research Grants

Transcriptional responses of frogs to infection by Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis

Indicative Funding
The primary goal of this research is to determine whether upland frog populations have genetic adaptions that allow them to colerate chytridiomycosis.
Donald McKnight and Lin Schwarzkopf (College of Science & Engineering)

Australian Wildlife Society - University Student Grant

Do bacterial immune defences drive the recovery of threatened frog populations?

Indicative Funding
Emerging infectious diseases are a growing problem for wildlife. One of these diseases, chytridiomycosis, has decimatedmany amphibian populations world-wide. Some populations have, however, recovered from chytridiomycosis outbreaks, and understanding the factors enabling their recovery will aid management efforts. Our project will examine the possibility that frogs have shifted their microbiomes to contain more anti-microbial species. These species may have played an important role in the recovery of frog populations.
Donald McKnight, Kyall Zenger, Lin Schwarzkopf, Ross Alford and Deborah Bower (College of Science & Engineering)
Conservation; emerging infectious disease; chytridiomycosis; Amphibian; Evolution; microbiome

Australian Research Council - Discovery - Projects

Understanding The Tipping Point Between Epidemic And Endemic Disease: Amphibian Chytridiomycosis As A Model System

Indicative Funding
$387,000 over 3 years
Amphibian chytridiomycosis is a major threat to Australian frog species. Environmental factors set a tipping point between coexistence with the pathogen and epidemic outbreaks leading to declines and extinctions. At present it coexists with many threatened species, but we do not understand the nature of the tipping point, so new epidemics could occur at any time as the environment changes. The tipping point is set by a combination of frog microenvironment selection, behaviour, and innate immune defences. Our project will produce a detailed understanding of how these interact, allowing us to develop and carry out preliminary tests of strategies for manipulating the tipping point to manage this threat to amphibians.
Ross Alford, Lin Schwarzkopf and David Pike in collaboration with Robert Puschendorf (College of Science & Engineering, University of South Florida and University of Plymouth)
Amphibian; Conservation; Rainforest

Office for Learning and Teaching - Extension Grants

Exploring field spaces as learning places: Optimising the impact of field-based learning on the student experience

Indicative Funding
$30,000 over 2 years
The project aim is to improve the field-based learning experience for students. The team includes staff from multiple disciplines in the new CMES and CTSE Colleges. The range of field-based learning activities undertaken in the two colleges will be identified and mapped to the curriculum in nominated courses. Focus groups will be held with academics and students to gather data. Findings will be shared with the broader university community through a collaborative symposium. Strategies for effective practice in field-based learning and teaching will be applied to nominated courses and the impact on student learning evaluated. The project deliverables will include a university-wide symposium, website and online guide to field-based learning.
Phil Turner, Janet Buchan, Paul Nelson, Lin Schwarzkopf, Janine Sheaves, Orpha Bellwood, Carl Spandler, Michelle Lasen and Tanya Doyle (College of Science & Engineering, College of Arts and Society & Education)
Learning and teaching; Learning spaces; Field based learning; Science Education

Meat & Livestock Australia - Research Grant

Determining the impact of varying grazing intensity of wildlife abundance: looking for mechanisms

Indicative Funding
$59,300 over 4 years
Given that extensive cattle grazing is the major land use in northern Australia, relatively small improvements in management of these lands could have major biodiversity benefits. Impacts of grazing on biodiversity have received some previous attention, however this project will seek to determine whether a trade-off exists between economic performance, beef productivity, and land management for biodiversity. The project will value add to the long-term Wambiana grazing trial and also extend and develop previous, shorter-term biodiversity studies conducted by CSIRO, to provide key long-term data on biodiversity issues. The project will also expose a large number of students to the grazing industry in a positive and constructive manner, fostering linkages and changing attitudes about the northern beef industry.
Lin Schwarzkopf in collaboration with Kris Bell and R Hekathorn (College of Science & Engineering)
vertebrate biodiversity; grazing intensity; Land Management

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.

  • Environmental influences on geographic variations in body size in greater gliders (Petauroides volans) (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Pathology and Epidemiology of Ranavirus Infection in Australian Freshwater Turtles (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Life in the Canopy in a Changing Climate: What Factors Increase Species Vulnerability to Climate Change in Tropical Forest Canopies and how does this Effect Species Interactions in the Canopy Community? (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • Population trends, habitat requirements and conservation recommendations for an endangered marsupial, the northern bettong (Bettongia tropica) (PhD , Advsor Mentor)
  • The Effect of Invasive Toad Calls on the Calls of other Frogs (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • An Examination of Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) Behaviour: How Can We Use This Knowledge to Refine Trapping Regimes? (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • The Impacts of Cattle Grazing on Arboreal Reptiles (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Faunal Responses to Different Cattle Grazing Strategies (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Habitat Modelling as a tool for conservation of the Black-Throated Finch southern subspecies (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Evolution and ecological adaptations of skin morphology of geckos (squamata, Gekkota) (PhD , Primary Advisor)
  • Ecology and management of Chital Deer in North Queensland (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Life Finds a Way: The Recovery of Frog Populations From a Chytridiomycosis Outbreak (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Thermal Thresholds in the Amphibian Disease Chytridiomycosis (PhD , Secondary Advisor)

These are the most recent metadata records associated with this researcher. To see a detailed description of all dataset records, visit the JCU Research Data Catalogue.


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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  • 28.225, Marine & Tropical Biology 2 (Townsville campus)
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