Skip to main content

Mikac, Katarina Maryann. Dr

Senior Lecturer

  • Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health
  • Centre for Sustainable Ecosystem Solutions
  • Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health: International Unit-Postgraduate degrees Coordinator - University of Wollongong 2008 -

Overview


I am interested in invasion and conservation biology and genetics. A fundamental question motivates all my research: what phenotypic or genetic characteristics makes an invasive species successful? Understanding the answer to this question provides information needed for food biosecurity globally as the insect pests I work on are some of the world's worst pests. I also believe that understanding the answer to this question can also assist in positive outcomes for threatened species as it is the opposite of this question that limits the survival of threatened species in their habitats.

Given that all the research that I conduct is provided by public funding, I am dedicated to focusing on applied research and outcomes from which sound management decisions can be made for the species that my collaborators, students and I work on. The outcomes from my work have implications Nationally and globally.

I have strong and ongoing collaborations with:
University of Zagreb, Faculty of Agriculture;
NSW Office of Environment and Heritage;
Lake Macquaire City Council; and
Newcastle University.

I am a champion of women in science and strive to mentor young women and girls in science. To date I have supervised mainly women students at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels and provide continuing mentor-ship to my past students through their professional careers.
I take my role as a supervisor and mentor seriously and take great pride in assisting my students in their own research and private/industry research related careers. 

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Invasion Biology, Genetics & Diagnostics for integrated pest management of booklice (Liposcelis species), khapra and warehouse beetles and the western corn rootworm in Australia, Europe and North America.

    Conservation Biology & Genetics for conservation management of spotted tailed quolls and squirrel gliders in New South Wales, Australia.

    Principal Scientist and Founder of Team Quoll Illawarra and Southern Highlands, a group of concerned scientists, students and citizen scientists who focus on conservation of threatened species in the South Coast Region of NSW. 



Available as Research Supervisor

Available for Collaborative Projects

Selected Publications


Impact Story


  • <p>Australia has experienced the fastest rate of terrestrial mammal extinctions in the world and only 12% of the country’s land area is protected via the National Reserve System. Identifying the presence of threatened species on private land and educating landholders on appropriate conservation practice is essential.</p><p> But how can we get landholders to conduct scientific surveys for threatened plants and animals, and all the while employ best scientific and conservation practice? Finding a solution to this question lead Dr Katarina Mikac and her student researchers to form Team Quoll in 2014. Team Quoll is a group of scientists, students and citizen scientists to engage in conservation science and education on threatened species in the Illawarra, South Coast and Southern Highlands Regions of NSW.  </p><p>Team Quoll is currently leading a citizen science campaign that encourages landholders to participate in a remote camera survey for Australia’s largest native mainland marsupial carnivore: the spotted-tailed quoll on their privately owned and managed lands. Through the previous work of Team Quoll it has become clear that addressing the conservation conundrums of many of our native plants and animals is and can be best placed in the hands of local landholders themselves; many of whom have properties that surround Australia’s National Parks.</p><p> </p><p>Spotted tailed quolls are an iconic Australian species and the last mainland marsupial predator. It’s estimated that up to 90% of its range has been lost since settlement, and spotted tailed quoll are now Nationally listed as threatened with extinction. What was once a common creature is now often a rare sight in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands Regions.</p><p>Recently Team Quoll conducted camera trapping surveys on private land ranging from the Blue Mountains to the South Coast. Thus far the results are stark and easily summarised: quolls = 0 sightings, feral animals= 68 sightings. High numbers of feral cats and foxes were found in areas that were once home to quolls. These invasive species have replaced Australia’s native quolls and continue to endanger native wildlife populations due to their high densities and potential to spread disease.  </p><p>From here Katarina and Team Quoll will continue to search on hundreds of private properties over the next few years, in the quest to find Australia’s iconic spotted tailed quolls. Engaging landholders with thousands of images of all the wildlife that exist on their properties, is an important medium for encouraging feral pest and weed control and educating communities about threatened species. Through social media our images of native wildlife and feral pests, have reached out to tens of thousands of people to inform and educate people of our local conservation concerns and how we Team Quoll are working to turn this trend around with positive conservation impact in our local Regions.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Available as Research Supervisor

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Topics available under my supervision include:

    Insect invasion biology & genetics:
    1. use of SNPs to understand global movement patterns and genetic diversity of agriculturally important insects (eg. western corn rootworm, colorado potato beetle, khapra beetle, Liposcelis psocids)
    2. Geometric morphometrics of western corn rootworm hind-wings. Do rootworm wings (shape and size) vary predictably according to crop resistance and can this be used as a bioindicator of resistance?
    3. What structural components of corn rootworm hind-wings make them such successful invaders?  
    4. Modelling resistant corn rootworm hind wings will assist in understanding their long distance movement and invasion dynamics in North America.

    Wildlife conservation biology & genetics:
    1. spotted tailed quoll monitoring using camera trapping and DNA diagnostics.
    2. Conservation genetics of spotted tailed quolls 
    3. Conservation genetics of squirrel gliders.
    4. Innovative monitoring and survey of gliding mammals using thermal imaging.
    5. Artificial intelligence and deep learning to assist in the monitoring of threatened mammals. 

Teaching Activities


  • Degree Coordinator, Master of Science and Management Subject Coordinator and Lecturer: SCIE911: Fundamentals of Science Communication; SCIE913: Fundamentals of Science data and IT; SCIE914: Current questions in science; I also teach into Biology research project subjects at the 200, 300 and 400 level. 2008 -

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Landscape genetics of spotted tailed quoll populations in NSW: are current levels of population connectivity and adaptive potential enough to ensure their long term survival? Knipler, Monica
    Doctor of Philosophy Monitoring and Management of Threatened Small Mammal Species in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas Gracanin, Ana

Outreach Overview


  • I am a passionate scientist and science educator and often speak at environment and conservation based community forums and workshops throughout the Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Please contact me if you would like me to speak at your next event or workshop on topics related to conservation in Australia, spotted tailed quolls and/or arboreal mammals, endangered insects (golden sun moth) and also those of global agricultural and quarantine significance (western corn rootworm) 

Top Publications


Research Overview


  • Invasion Biology, Genetics & Diagnostics for integrated pest management of booklice (Liposcelis species), khapra and warehouse beetles and the western corn rootworm in Australia, Europe and North America.

    Conservation Biology & Genetics for conservation management of spotted tailed quolls and squirrel gliders in New South Wales, Australia.

    Principal Scientist and Founder of Team Quoll Illawarra and Southern Highlands, a group of concerned scientists, students and citizen scientists who focus on conservation of threatened species in the South Coast Region of NSW. 



Selected Publications


Impact Story


  • <p>Australia has experienced the fastest rate of terrestrial mammal extinctions in the world and only 12% of the country’s land area is protected via the National Reserve System. Identifying the presence of threatened species on private land and educating landholders on appropriate conservation practice is essential.</p><p> But how can we get landholders to conduct scientific surveys for threatened plants and animals, and all the while employ best scientific and conservation practice? Finding a solution to this question lead Dr Katarina Mikac and her student researchers to form Team Quoll in 2014. Team Quoll is a group of scientists, students and citizen scientists to engage in conservation science and education on threatened species in the Illawarra, South Coast and Southern Highlands Regions of NSW.  </p><p>Team Quoll is currently leading a citizen science campaign that encourages landholders to participate in a remote camera survey for Australia’s largest native mainland marsupial carnivore: the spotted-tailed quoll on their privately owned and managed lands. Through the previous work of Team Quoll it has become clear that addressing the conservation conundrums of many of our native plants and animals is and can be best placed in the hands of local landholders themselves; many of whom have properties that surround Australia’s National Parks.</p><p> </p><p>Spotted tailed quolls are an iconic Australian species and the last mainland marsupial predator. It’s estimated that up to 90% of its range has been lost since settlement, and spotted tailed quoll are now Nationally listed as threatened with extinction. What was once a common creature is now often a rare sight in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands Regions.</p><p>Recently Team Quoll conducted camera trapping surveys on private land ranging from the Blue Mountains to the South Coast. Thus far the results are stark and easily summarised: quolls = 0 sightings, feral animals= 68 sightings. High numbers of feral cats and foxes were found in areas that were once home to quolls. These invasive species have replaced Australia’s native quolls and continue to endanger native wildlife populations due to their high densities and potential to spread disease.  </p><p>From here Katarina and Team Quoll will continue to search on hundreds of private properties over the next few years, in the quest to find Australia’s iconic spotted tailed quolls. Engaging landholders with thousands of images of all the wildlife that exist on their properties, is an important medium for encouraging feral pest and weed control and educating communities about threatened species. Through social media our images of native wildlife and feral pests, have reached out to tens of thousands of people to inform and educate people of our local conservation concerns and how we Team Quoll are working to turn this trend around with positive conservation impact in our local Regions.</p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p>

Potential Supervision Topics


  • Topics available under my supervision include:

    Insect invasion biology & genetics:
    1. use of SNPs to understand global movement patterns and genetic diversity of agriculturally important insects (eg. western corn rootworm, colorado potato beetle, khapra beetle, Liposcelis psocids)
    2. Geometric morphometrics of western corn rootworm hind-wings. Do rootworm wings (shape and size) vary predictably according to crop resistance and can this be used as a bioindicator of resistance?
    3. What structural components of corn rootworm hind-wings make them such successful invaders?  
    4. Modelling resistant corn rootworm hind wings will assist in understanding their long distance movement and invasion dynamics in North America.

    Wildlife conservation biology & genetics:
    1. spotted tailed quoll monitoring using camera trapping and DNA diagnostics.
    2. Conservation genetics of spotted tailed quolls 
    3. Conservation genetics of squirrel gliders.
    4. Innovative monitoring and survey of gliding mammals using thermal imaging.
    5. Artificial intelligence and deep learning to assist in the monitoring of threatened mammals. 

Teaching Activities


  • Degree Coordinator, Master of Science and Management Subject Coordinator and Lecturer: SCIE911: Fundamentals of Science Communication; SCIE913: Fundamentals of Science data and IT; SCIE914: Current questions in science; I also teach into Biology research project subjects at the 200, 300 and 400 level. 2008 -

Advisees


  • Graduate Advising Relationship

    Degree Research Title Advisee
    Doctor of Philosophy Landscape genetics of spotted tailed quoll populations in NSW: are current levels of population connectivity and adaptive potential enough to ensure their long term survival? Knipler, Monica
    Doctor of Philosophy Monitoring and Management of Threatened Small Mammal Species in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas Gracanin, Ana

Outreach Overview


  • I am a passionate scientist and science educator and often speak at environment and conservation based community forums and workshops throughout the Illawarra and Southern Highlands. Please contact me if you would like me to speak at your next event or workshop on topics related to conservation in Australia, spotted tailed quolls and/or arboreal mammals, endangered insects (golden sun moth) and also those of global agricultural and quarantine significance (western corn rootworm) 

uri icon

Geographic Focus