Ben Scheele

Qualifications 

BSci (Hons), PhD

 

Position 

Research Fellow, Threatened Species Hub, National Environmental Science

     Program

ARC DECRA Research Fellow (commencing 2020)

Contact details

Address: 

Fenner School of Environment and Society

College of Science

Australian National University

Email: ben.scheele"at"anu.edu.au

Website: https://benjaminscheele.wordpress.com/

 

Research Overview and current projects

 

I am an ecologist working on conservation and population ecology at the Australian National University. My research focuses on investigating how and why species, and populations within species, exhibit variable responses to emerging threats. I commonly use a mix of population and landscape ecology approaches to investigate species declines. I emphasize testing and refining ecological theory, while also working closely with conservation practitioners to inform management. I use insights generated from empirical research to identify mechanisms underpinning species declines and to develop macroecological theory regarding species decline.

In a rapidly changing world with a burgeoning human population, the threats to biodiversity are extreme. My goal is to contribute in some small way to the preservation of biodiversity. My research is highly collaborative and I welcome opportunities to work with researchers from across the world: the problems we face are nigh on impossible to address as single, isolated research groups.​

Background

 

I completed my Bachelor of Science degree and PhD degree at The Australian National University. My PhD focused on the spatial dynamics and impacts of chytridiomycosis on frogs in Australia and Romania. I then completed a Postdoc at James Cook University (Townsville), working with Drs Lee Berger and Lee Skerratt. I then returned to ANU to commence my current position as a Research Fellow in the Threatened Species Hub, as part of the National Environmental Science Program. In 2020, I will commence an ARC DECRA.

 

Current Projects (amphibian focused – see here for non-froggy work)

 

Global amphibian declines

Recently, I led a team of 42 researchers from across the globe to quantify the impact of the devastating pathogen, chytrid fungus, on the world’s amphibians. This research, published in Science, demonstrated that the pathogen is associated with the decline of over 500 amphibian species, with up to 90 of these species potentially extinct.

We are now undertaking further research to investigate why some species have declined due to chytrid fungus, while others seem to persist despite the presence of highly virulent lineages of chytrid fungus. 

Chytridiomycosis, amphibian ecology and conservation

Much of my empirical, field-based research focuses on examining how susceptible frog species can persist despite

the presence of chytrid fungus. I examine how the outcome of host-pathogen interactions are shaped by environmental conditions and biotic interactions to reveal mechanisms of species persistence with novel threats. This work has focused on frogs in eastern Australia, but I have also worked on chytrid fungus in Romania.

My research on chytrid fungus is aligned with informing the development of effective management strategies to prevent population declines and species extinctions. I currently lead a project developing conservation measures for the critically endangered corroboree frog, alongside work on alpine tree frogs, spotted tree frogs, and green and golden bell frogs.

 

Conserving biodiversity in human-dominated landscapes

 

I am highly interested in understanding factors that shape the occurrence of wildlife in human-modified landscapes and have conducted research in farmland regions in south-eastern Australia, and the traditional rural landscapes of Transylvania, Romania. In this space, I continue to work on projects on amphibian ecology, as well as increasingly focusing on the social dimensions of amphibian conservation in human dominated landscapes.

 

Publications

 

2019

  • Hartel, T., Scheele, B.C., Rozylowicz, L., Horcea-Milcu, A., Cogălniceanu, D. 2020. The social context for conservation: Amphibians in human shaped landscapes with high nature values. Journal for Nature Conservation 53, 125762.

  • Canessa, S., Spitzen‐van der Sluijs, A., Stark, T., Allen, B.E., Bishop, P.J., Bletz, M., Briggs, C.J., Daversa, D.R., Gray, M.J., Griffiths, R.A., Harris, R.N., Harrison, X.A., Hoverman, J.T., Jervis, P., Muths E., Olson, D.H., Price, S.J., Richards‐Zawacki, C.L., Robert, J., Rosa, G.M., Scheele, B.C., Schmidt, B.R., Garner, T.W.J. 2019. Conservation decisions under pressure: Lessons from an exercise in rapid response to wildlife disease. Conservation Science and Practice, https://doi.org/10.1111/csp2.141.

  • Sopniewski, J., Shams, F., Scheele, B.C., Kefford, B.J., Ezaz, T., 2019. Identifying sex-linked markers in Litoria aurea: a novel approach to understanding sex chromosome evolution in an amphibian. Scientific Reports 9, 16591.

  • Scheele, B.C., F. Pasmans, L.F. Skerratt, L. Berger, A. Martel, W. Beukema, A.A. Acevedo, P.A. Burrowes, T. Carvalho, A. Catenazzi, I.D.l. Riva, M.C. Fisher, S.V. Flechas, C.N. Foster, P. Frías-Álvarez, T.W.J. Garner, B. Gratwicke, J.M. Guayasamin, M. Hirschfeld, J.E. Kolby, T.A. Kosch, E.L. Marca, D.B. Lindenmayer, K.R. Lips, A.V. Longo, R. Maneyro, C.A. McDonald, J. Mendelson III, P. Palacios-Rodriguez, G. Parra-Olea, C.L. Richards-Zawacki, M.O. Rödel, S.M. Rovito, C. Soto-Azat, L.F. Toledo, J. Voyles, C. Weldon, S.M. Whitfield, M. Wilkinson, K.R. Zamudio, S. Canessa. 2019. Amphibian fungal panzootic causes catastrophic and ongoing loss of biodiversity. Science, 363, 1459-1463.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Blanchard, W., Blair, D., Westgate, M.J., Scheele, B.C., 2019. Spatio‐temporal effects of logging and fire on tall, wet temperate eucalypt forest birds. Ecological Applications, https://doi.org/10.1002/eap.1999.

  • Scheele, B.C., C.N. Foster, D.A. Hunter, D.B. Lindenmayer, B.R. Schmidt, G.W. Heard. 2019. Living with the enemy: facilitating amphibian coexistence with disease. Biological Conservation, 235, 273-278.

  • Hartel, T. *, Scheele, B.C. *, Vanak, A.T., Rozylowicz, L., Linnell, J.D., Ritchie, E.G., 2019. Mainstreaming human and large carnivore coexistence through institutional collaboration. Conservation Biology, https://doi.org/10.1111/cobi.13334 *authors contributed equally

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Westgate, M.J., Scheele, B.C., Foster, C.N., Blair, D., 2019. Key perspectives on early successional forests subject to stand-replacing disturbances. Forest Ecology and Management.

  • Scheele, B.C., Legge, S., Blanchard, W., Garnett, S., Geyle, H., Gillespie, G., Harrison, P., Lindenmayer, D., Lintermans, M., Robinson, N., Woinarski, J., 2019. Continental-scale assessment reveals inadequate monitoring for threatened vertebrates in a megadiverse country. Biological Conservation 235, 273-278.

  • Driscoll, D.A., Scheele, B.C., McDonald, T. 2019. Feral horses in the Australian Alps: an introduction to the special issue. Ecological Management & Restoration, doi.org/10.1111/emr.12364

  • Driscoll, D.A., Worboys, G.L., Allan, H. Banks, S.C. Beeton, N.J., Cherubin, R.C., Doherty, T.S., Finlayson, C.M., Green, L., Hartley, R., Hope, G., Johnson, C.N., Lintermans, M., Mackey, B. Paull, D.J., Pittock, J., Porfirio, L.L., Ritchie, E.G., Sato, C.F., Scheele, B.C., Slattery, D.A., Venn, S., Watson, D., Watson, M., Williams, R.M 2019. Impacts of feral horses in the Australian Alps and evidence‐based solutions. Ecological Management & Restoration, doi.org/10.1111/emr.12357

  • Foster, C.N.*, Scheele, B.C.* 2019 Feral horse impacts on corroboree frog habitat in the Australian Alp. Wildlife Research, 46, 184–190. *authors contributed equally

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Blanchard, W. Westgate, M.J., Foster, C.N., Banks, S.C., Barton, P., Crane, C., Ikin, K. Scheele, B.C. 2019. Novel bird responses to successive large-scale, landscape transformations. Ecological Monographs, 89, e01362.

2018

  • Grogan, L.F., Robert, J., Berger, L. Skerratt, L.F., Scheele, B.C., Castley, J.G., Newell, D.A. McCallum, H.I. 2018. Review of the Amphibian Immune Response to Chytridiomycosis, and Future Directions. Frontiers in Immunology 9:2536.

  • Michael, D.R., Blanchard, W., Scheele, B.C., Lindenmayer, D.B. 2018. Comparative use of active searches and artificial refuges to detect amphibians in terrestrial environments. Austral Ecology, 44, 327–338.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Lane, P., Foster, C.N., Westgate, M.J., Sato, C.F., Ikin, K., Crane, M., Michael, D., Florance, D. Scheele, B.C. 2018. Do migratory and resident birds differ in their responses to interacting effects of climate, weather and vegetation? Diversity and Distributions, 25, 449-461.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Lane, P., Crane, M., Florance, D., Foster, C.N., Ikin, K., Michael, D., Sato, C.F., Scheele, B.C., Westgate, M.J. 2018. Weather effects on birds of different size are mediated by long‐term climate and vegetation type in endangered temperate woodlands. Global Change Biology, 25, 675-685.

  • Hansen, N.A, Scheele, B.C., Driscoll, D.A. and Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018) Amphibians in agricultural landscapes: the habitat value of crop areas, linear plantings and remnant woodland patches, Animal Conservation, 22, 72-82.

  • Campbell, L.J., Garner, T.W., Tessa, G., Scheele, B.C., Griffiths, A.G., Wilfert, L., Harrison, X.A., 2018. An emerging viral pathogen truncates population age structure in a European amphibian and may reduce population viability. PeerJ 6, e5949.

  • Robinson, N., Scheele, B.C., Legge, S., Southwell, D., Carter, O., Lintermans, M., Radford, J., Skroblin, A., Dickman, C., Koleck, J., Wayne, A., Kanowski, J., Gillespie, G., & Lindenmayer, D. (2018). How to ensure threatened species monitoring leads to threatened species conservation. Ecological Management & Restoration, DOI: 10.1111/emr.12335.

  • Scheele, B.C., Legge, S., Armstrong, D.P., Coates, D.J., Copley, P., Robinson, N., Southwell, D., Westgate, M.J. & Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). How to improve threatened species management: an Australian perspective. Journal of Environmental Management, 223, 668-675.

  • Brannelly, L.A., Clemann, N., Skerratt, L.F., Webb, R.J., Berger, L. & Scheele, B.C. (2018). Investigating community disease dynamics can lead to more effective conservation efforts. Animal Conservation, 21, 108-109.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Wood, J., MacGregor, C., Foster, C., Scheele, B.C., Tulloch, A., Barton, P., Banks, S., Robinson, N., Dexter, N., O’Loughlin, L. & Legge, S. (2018). Conservation conundrums and the challenges of managing unexplained declines of multiple species. Biological Conservation, 222, 212-221.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Lane, P., Westgate, M., Scheele, B.C., Foster, C., Sato, C., Ikin, K., Crane, M., Michael, D., Florance, D., Barton, P., O’Loughlin, L. & Robinson, N. (2018). Tests of predictions associated with temporal changes in Australian bird populations. Biological Conservation, 221, 279-292.

  • Canessa, S., Bozzuto, C., Grant, E., Cruickshank, S.S., Fisher, M.C., Koella, J.C., Lötters, S., Martel, A., Pasmans, F., Scheele, B.C., Spitzen-van der Sluijs, A., Steinfartz, S. & Schmidt B.R. (2018). Decision making for mitigating wildlife diseases: from theory to practice for an emerging fungal pathogen of amphibians. Journal of Applied Ecology, 55, 1987-1996.

  • Scheele, B.C., Foster, C.N., Banks, S.C., & Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). The role of biotic interactions in the Niche Reduction Hypothesis: A reply to Doherty and Driscoll. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 33, 148-149.

  • Grogan, L.F., Cashins, S.D., Skerratt, L.F., Berger, L., McFadden, M.S., Harlow, P., Hunter, D.A., Scheele, B.C. & Mulvenna, J. (2018). Evolution of resistance to chytridiomycosis is associated with a robust early immune response. Molecular Ecology, 27, 919-934.

  • Grogan, L.F., Mulvenna, J., Gummer, J., Scheele, B.C., Berger, L., Cashins, S.D., Trengove, R.D. & Skerratt, L.F. (2018). Survival, gene and metabolite responses of Litoria verreauxii alpina frogs to fungal disease chytridiomycosis. Scientific Data, 5, 180033.

  • Brannelly, L.A., Webb, R.J., Hunter, D.A., Clemann, N., Howard, K., Skerratt, L.F., Berger, L. & Scheele, B.C. (2018). Non-declining amphibians can be important reservoir hosts for amphibian chytrid fungus. Animal Conservation, 21, 91-101.

  • Westgate, M.J., MacGregor, C., Scheele, B.C., Driscoll, D.A. & Lindenmayer, D.B. (2018). Effects of time since fire on frog occurrence are altered by isolation, vegetation, and fire frequency gradients. Diversity and Distributions, 24, 82-91.

2017

  • Scheele, B.C., Skerratt, L.F., Hunter, D.A., Banks, S.C., Pierson, J.C., Driscoll, D.A., Byrne, P.G. & Berger, L. (2017). Disease-associated change in an amphibian life-history trait. Oecologia, 184, 825-833.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., et. al. including Scheele, B.C., [68 co-authors] (2017). Save Australia’s ecological research. Science, 357, 557. [Correspondence]

  • Scheele, B.C., Foster, C.N., Banks, S.C. & Lindenmayer, D.B. (2017). Niche contractions in declining species: mechanisms and consequences. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 32, 346–355.

  • Lindenmayer, D.B., Ehmke, G. & Scheele, B.C. (2017). Response - Data protection policies for sensitive species are piecemeal and often ineffective. Science, 357, 142. [Correspondence]

  • Lindenmayer, D.B. & Scheele, B.C. (2017). Do not publish. Science 356, 800-801.

  • Scheele, B.C., Skerratt, L.F., Grogan, L.F., Hunter, D.A., Clemann, N., McFadden, M., Newell, D., Hoskin, C.J., Gillespie, G.R., Heard, G.W., Brannelly, L., Roberts, A. & Berger, L. (2017). After the epidemic: ongoing declines, stabilizations and recoveries in amphibians afflicted by chytridiomycosis. Biological Conservation, 206, 37-46.

  • Scheele, B.C., Hunter, D.A., Brannelly, L.A., Skerratt, L.F. & Driscoll, D.A. (2017). Reservoir-host amplification of disease impact in an endangered amphibian. Conservation Biology 31, 592–600.

2016

  • Grogan, L., Phillott, A., Scheele, B.C., Berger, L., Cashins, S., Bell, S., Puschendorf, R. & Skerratt, L. (2016). Endemicity of chytridiomycosis is driven by pathogen over-dispersion. Journal of Animal Ecology 85, 806-816.

  • Scheele, B.C., Hunter, D.A., Banks, S.C., Pierson, J.C., Skerratt, L.F., Webb, R. & Driscoll, D.A. (2016). High adult mortality in disease-challenged frog populations increases vulnerability to drought. Journal of Animal Ecology 85, 1453-1460.

  • Skerratt, L.F., Berger, L., Clemann, N., Hunter, D., Marantelli, G., Newell, D., Philips, A., McFadden, M., Hines, H., Scheele, B.C., Brannelly, L.A., Spear, R., Versteegen, S., Cashins, S.D. & West, M. (2016). Priorities for management of chytridiomycosis in Australia: saving frogs from extinction. Wildlife Research 43, 105-120.

2015

  • Brannelly, L.A., Hunter, D.A., Lenger, D., Scheele, B.C., Skerratt, L.F. & Berger, L. (2015). Dynamics of chytridiomycosis during the breeding season in an Australian alpine amphibian. PLoS One 10, e0143629.

  • Scheele, B.C., Hunter, D.A., Skerratt, L.F., Brannelly, L.A. & Driscoll, D.A. (2015). Low impact of chytridiomycosis on frog recruitment enables persistence in refuges despite high adult mortality. Biological Conservation 182, 36-43.

  • Westgate, M.J., Scheele, B.C., Ikin, K., Hoefer, A.M., Evans, M., Osborne, W., Hunter, D.A., Rayner, L. & Driscoll, D.A. (2015). Citizen science program shows urban areas have lower occurrence of frog species, but not accelerated declines. PLoS One 10, e0140973.

  • Brannelly, L.A., Hunter, D.A., Skerratt, L.F., Scheele, B.C., Lenger, D., McFadden, M.S., Harlow P.S. & Berger, L. (2015). Factors influencing post-release fitness in the reintroduction of the endangered alpine tree frog of the Australian Alps. Animal Conservation 19, 153-162.

  • Bataille, A., Cashins, S.D., Grogan, L., Skerratt, L.F., Hunter, D.A., McFadden, M.S., Scheele, B.C., Brannelly, L.A., Macris, A., Harlow, P.S., Bell, S., Berger, L. & Waldman, B. (2015). Susceptibility of amphibians to chytridiomycosis is associated with MHC class II conformation. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282, 20143127.

  • Scheele, B.C., Driscoll, D.A., Fischer, J., Fletcher, A.W., Hanspach, J., Vӧrӧs, J. & Hartel, T. (2015). Landscape context influences chytrid fungus distribution in an endangered European amphibian. Animal Conservation 18, 480-488.

2014

  • Scheele, B.C., Hunter, D.A., Grogan, L., Berger, L., Kolby, J., McFadden, M., Marantelli G., Skerratt, L.F. & Driscoll, D.A. (2014). Interventions for reducing extinction risk in chytridiomycosis-threatened amphibians. Conservation Biology 28, 1195-1205.

  • Keith, D.A., Mahony, M., Hines, H., Elith, J., Regan, T.J., Baumgartner, J.B., Hunter, D., Heard, G.W., Mitchell, N.J., Parris, K.M., Penman, T., Scheele, B.C., Simpson, C.C., Tingley, R., Tracy, C.R., West, M. & Akçakaya, H.R. (2014). Detecting extinction risk from climate change by IUCN Red List criteria. Conservation Biology 28, 810-819.

  • Scheele, B.C., Boyd, C.E., Fischer, J., Fletcher, A.W., Hanspach, J. & Hartel, T. (2014). Identifying core habitat before it’s too late: the case of Bombina variegata, an internationally endangered amphibian. Biodiversity and Conservation 23, 775-780.

  • Driscoll, D.A., Banks, S.C., Barton, P.S., Ikin, K., Lentini, P., Lindenmayer, D.B., Smith, A.L., Berry, L.E., Burns, E.L., Edworthy, A., Evans, M.J., Gibson, R., Heinsohn, R., Howland, B., Kay, G., Munro, N., Scheele, B.C., Stirnemann, I., Stojanovic, D., Sweaney, N., Villaseñor, N.R. & Westgate, M.J. (2014). The trajectory of dispersal research in conservation biology. Systematic review. PLoS One 9, e95053.

  • Scheele, B.C., Guarino, F., Osborne, W., Hunter, D.A., Skerratt, L.F. & Driscoll, D. A. (2014). Decline and re-expansion of an amphibian with high prevalence of chytrid fungus. Biological Conservation 170, 86-91.

2012

  • Scheele, B.C., Driscoll, D.A., Fischer, J. & Hunter, D.A. (2012). Decline of an endangered amphibian during an extreme climatic event. Ecosphere 3 (11), art101.

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