This award will support my ongoing research into the capacity of detection dogs to contribute to hawkweed eradication on mainland Australia. With the help of a research assistant, I’ll be building new time- and distance-based detection models, then taking the models to the International Statistical Ecology Conference in Seattle.
To coincide with the award, I’ve written an article for the University’s Pursuit website.
I’ve spent the past week in Kosciuszko National Park, contributing to the mammoth team effort eradicating hawkweeds (Hieracium species) from mainland Australia. Dozens of parks staff, state weeds staff, contractors and volunteers train their eyes on rosettes that could otherwise be mistaken for common daisies. Their goal is to find and kill every last one of these interlopers.
The searchers’ newest team-mate Sally prefers to follow her nose. She’s a working dog trained specifically to distinguish hawkweeds’ scent from the other plants occurring in the Alpine National Park. I’ve been helping set up fully- and partially- controlled experiments to evaluate detection dogs’ strengths and weaknesses, and compare them to the skills that human teams have been honing for years.