Plenary Speakers

Yellow-billed Spoonbill by Nathan Watson. Shortlisted in the BirdLife Australia Photograph Awards 2020

Information on Plenary talks will be announced soon

Professor Rob Heinsohn 
Australian National University
BirdLife Australia’s DL Serventy Medalist, 2023

Rob Heinsohn is Professor of Conservation Biology at the Australian National University. His first passion was behavioural ecology but he has primarily worked in threatened species conservation over the last 20 years. Rob’s research in bird behaviour includes his discovery of kidnapping in white-winged choughs, the causes of extreme sexual dichromatism in Eclectus parrots, tool use and rhythmic drumming in Palm Cockatoos, and the impacts of introduced predators on the mating system and sex allocation of Swift Parrots. The endangered bird species he currently studies are often particularly challenging due to their nomadic and wide-ranging behaviour. Rob and his team have specialised in working on such ‘difficult’ birds (see including sophisticated survey and modelling techniques for determining their conservation status and requirements. Current projects include Swift, Orange-bellied and Norfolk Island Green Parrots, Palm Cockatoos, Forty-spotted Pardalotes, Regent Honeyeaters and the illegal parrot trade in Indonesia.   

Professor Naomi Langmore 
Australian National University
BirdLife Australia’s DL Serventy Medalist, 2019

Naomi began her research career with a BSc (Hons) at ANU, studying the song of superb fairy-wrens for her Honours project. She then took up a PhD at the University of Cambridge to study the songs of dunnocks and alpine accentors. Following a Junior College Fellowship at Peterhouse, she moved back to ANU to take up an ARC Australian Post-doctoral Fellowship studying coevolution between cuckoos and their hosts. She was awarded two subsequent ARC Fellowships and was appointed to an ANU lectureship in 2014 and promoted to Professor in 2017. She is interested in a wide range of subjects within the field of avian behavioural ecology, including breeding systems, brood parasitism, signal evolution, communication and behavioural conservation. 

Dr Jack Pascoe
Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

Jack is a Yuin man living on Gadabanut Country. Jack completed a PhD at the University of Western Sydney where he studied the predators of the Blue Mountains. For the last decade Jack has led the Conservation Ecology Centre’s Conservation and Research Program which delivers adaptive management and applied ecological research across the Otway region. Recently, Jack joined the University of Melbourne as a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Food and Ecosystem Sciences. Jack’s interests are in understanding and managing biocultural landscapes. Jack currently sits on scientific reference groups for Zoos Victoria and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (formerly DELWP).

Dr Eric J Woehler OAM
Convenor, BirdLife Tasmania
BirdLife Australia’s DL Serventy Medalist, 2022

Eric Woehler has been undertaking research on seabirds and shorebirds for more than 40 years. His early research was on Southern Ocean seabirds, spending 8 summers at Casey in the Australian Antarctic Territory undertaking studies on Adélie Penguins and Snow Petrels, interspersed with 3 summers at subantarctic Heard Island, where he surveyed and mapped seabird colonies to update data more than half a century old. Eric has also undertaken surveys of resident shorebirds and small terns in Tasmania, including working with indigenous communities. The 30-year project has established the distribution and abundance of resident shorebirds in Tasmania, informing coastal management and conservation efforts, and has clearly documented the national and international significance of Tasmania for resident shorebirds. 

Ms Nunia Thomas-Moko 
Director, NatureFiji-MareqetiFiji 

Nunia Thomas-Moko is the Director of Fiji’s only local conservation organisation, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV). With a passion to look after and respect nature, and to inspire others to do so, her aim is to ensure that NFMV is the leading voice on Fiji’s domestic conservation issues. Overseeing the 22 projects in which NFMV is currently engaged, Nunia actively works to raise public awareness of Fiji’s natural heritage and promotes collaborative conservation actions with the Government of Fiji, a wide array of scientists, civil society and the wider public. NFMV is one of the seven partners organisations of Birdlife Pacific’s Pacific Partnership Program. Nunia co-leads several of the partnership projects within Fiji looking to develop a uniquely “Pacific” community-based approach to conserving island forests, which are home to the majority of the region’s threatened birds, and the basis of traditional, sustainable livelihoods. Nunia has been a member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission Steering Committee since 2013 and was elected Regional Vice Chair for Oceania in 2022. She is the technical advisor on Fiji’s government-led National Protected Areas Committee and the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan Species Working Group; and the National NGO focal point for Ramsar Communication, Education and Public Awareness. She is currently the NFMV representative on the Fiji Invasive Species Taskforce, and Fiji REDD+ Steering Committee, amongst others. In 2022 she was elected as a member of the BirdLife International Global Council. 

Dr Emma M Williams
Science Advisor and Mobile Threatened Species
Workstream Lead, New Zealand Department of Conservation

Emma works as a Science Advisor for the Department of Conservation. As part of this role, she leads a research portfolio that focuses on identifying, prioritising, and managing species in New Zealand that are threatened and highly mobile. Her Workstream was developed in2018 after Emma and her co-workers showed that 61% of New Zealand’s threatened terrestrial bird species and 100 % of New Zealand’s threatened bat species spend as much as 75 % of their life cycle outside areas that the Department of Conservation has any jurisdiction over or can manage. She is passionate about solving gnarly conservation challenges holistically, and working on those species that are threatened but often get over-looked because they’ve fallen into a ‘too hard basket’. Emma’s PhD was on developing monitoring methods for cryptic species, with the mobile Australasian bittern as its main case study. After her PhD, her work expanded to include other cryptic species such as crakes and rails. Now through her work with the Department of Conservation, she is looking to solve mobile challenges with c.50 different threatened species encompassing a range of threatened ecosystems