Bronte Van Helden

Dr

  • The University of Western Australia (M701), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

  • The University of Western Australia (M089), 35 Stirling Highway,

    6009 Perth

    Australia

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Personal profile

Biography

I completed my BSc (Hons) and PhD at the University of Western Australia based at the Albany Campus. After completing my PhD in 2021 I have been working as a Research Associate at UWA on an Australian Government funded project: Turning gardeners into conservationists: using gardens to conserve wildlife, and as a Regional Ecologist at South Coast NRM. 

I have a strong research interest in the role of urban environments for biodiversity conservation. My PhD examined the conservation value of residential gardens for mammal wildlife, including comparing the abundance and diversity of wildlife in urban bushland and residential gardens, the mechanisms that promote mammal use of gardens and whether wildlife can reside exclusively in residential landscapes. Since completing my PhD I have been working on an Australian Government funded research project that evaluates the effectiveness of wildlife-friendly gardening for biodiversity conservation and examines how urban conservation can contribute to human wellbeing within urban landscapes. The research and project is a collaboration between Perth NRM and UWA and is working with over 1000 residents in southwestern Australia to collect data on the wildlife that use gardens and wildlife-friendly structures (e.g. bird baths, possum boxes, ponds etc).

Although urban ecology and biodiversity conservation is my dominant research passion I also have interest and involvement in multiple other research areas including climate change, threatened species research and behavioural responses of wildlife.

Teaching overview

I have experience and enjoy teaching at undergraduate, Honours and Masters levels. I have tutored Start Smart students in Human Biology 1 (ANHB0034) and Human Biology 2 (ANHB0035), undergraduate students in Conservation Biology (BIOL2261) and Wildlife Conservation and Management (ANIM 3353), and lectured, tutored and demonstrated in Honours and Masters units (e.g. Research Methods in Environmental Science, ENVT4422; Ecological Field Methods, BIOL4409) over the last four years while working at UWA.  I have also provided assistance tutoring to indigenous students as part of the Indigenous Tutorial Assistance Scheme in a variety of units including Behavioural Ecology (ANIM3365), Environmental Dynamics (ENVT3362), Plant and Animal Biology (BIOL1131) and Human Biology 1: Becoming Human (ANHB1101).

Since 2018 I have also supervised numerous Honours and Masters students at UWA including:

2022 - Jenny Howell: Cat activity in residential gardens and their effect of wildlife behaviour. Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’ Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and N Rooney. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia. 

2021 - Esther Gibbons: Does providing water in Bristol gardens attract wildlife? Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’ Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and N Rooney. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia. 

2021 - Jensen Zhou: Does city size and characteristics influence opportunities for wildlife conservation in urban landscapes? Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and B. Cook. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia. 

2020 - Brody Altus: Landscape scale factors that determine bat presence in urban areas. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and B. Cook. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2020 - Sam Aizelwood: The willingness of residents to engage in the conservation of wildlife in gardens. Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’ Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and B. Cook. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2019 - Marie Busschots: Understanding the value of urban reserves for the critically endangered western ringtail possum in residential landscapes. Master of Science Research project, Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’, Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and P. Speldewinde. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2019 - Charlotte Chandler: Movement pathways and resource use by western ringtail possums in residential garden habitats. Master of Science Research project, Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’, Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and P. Speldewinde. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2019 - Molly Ellis: Expected versus actual assemblage of reptiles at Two Peoples Bay National Park. Master of Science Research project, Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’, Bristol University. Thesis co-supervised with Thesis co-supervised with P. Close and P. Speldewinde. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2019 -  Ellen Eriksson: Behavioural differences of mammals between gardens and bushland. Master of Science Research project, Master of Science ‘Global Wildlife Health and Conservation’, Bristol University. P. Close and P. Speldewinde. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

2019 - Temika Mathieson: New evidence of regionally high density, diet diversity and critical habitat will benefit conservation of the critically endangered western ringtail possum in south-west Australia. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close, P. Speldewinde and S. Comer. UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia.

Honours

2018 - Jordan Bader: Sheoak woodlands are a critical habitat for the western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) in Albany, Western Australia. Thesis co-supervised with P. Close, P. Speldewinde and S. Comer. The University of Western Australia.

Funding overview

2020  -  Van Helden B, Close P & Perth NRM $448 136; Turning gardeners into conservationists: using gardens to conserve wildlife; Australian Government Citizen Science Grant – Round 2.

2018  - Van Helden, $ 21 000, Living in the city: are residential areas a valuable habitat for mammal wildlife? Western Australia Biodiversity Science Institute.

2018 - Van Helden B & Torbay Catchment Group, $10 200; Conserving western ringtail possums; State Natural Resource Management Community Action Grant.

2018  - Van Helden B & Close P, $2000; Living in the city: are residential areas a valuable habitat for mammal wildlife? Australian Geographic Society.

Education/Academic qualification

Conservation Biology, BSc (Hons), The University of Western Australia

Urban Ecology, PhD, The University of Western Australia

External positions

Acting Program Manager - Healthy Environments Team, South Coast NRM

May 2021Aug 2021

Regional Ecologist, South Coast NRM

4 Jan 2020 → …

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