UOW PhD student Ryan Dallas is hoping his research into foxes will help contribute to the conservation of Australia’s native species.

Ryan Dallas is a Wiradjuri man and PhD student researching the possible evolution of foxes throughout Australia’s different climates since their introduction to the country in the 1800s. Ryan’s work aims to discover if evolution has occurred on any level, which could account for the invasive species’ success in becoming such a widespread threat to local ecosystems.

“Basically, I’m going to be looking at a lot of fox skulls to determine any differences between them. I’ll compare the skulls from different regions in Australia as well as historical samples to see if there’s any small-time evolution or changes over the couple hundred years they’ve been in this country,” Ryan said.

“I’m going to be 3D scanning a lot of the skulls, and once they’re scanned then little markers will be put on the skulls and morphometrics will be done. Once you’ve done enough samples you can compare these metrics across skulls and that’ll tell you if there’s a difference in shape or size of the varying features.”

For Ryan, the decision to pursue foxes as a subject of study comes from a desire to protect Australia’s native species to whom the red fox has become a predator.

“One of the biggest threatening processes towards native species in Australia is the introduction of the red fox. I want to try to figure out why the animal’s so successful in so many different climates and hopefully find a way, or contribute to finding ways, to control and curb fox populations and conserve a lot of the native species.”

For the full article from the Research and Innovation magazine please click here.