Alexandra Paton sitting by a campfire

Alexandra Paton

Tabby Tracker

PhD Candidate, Applied Ecology
College of Sciences and Engineering
University of Tasmania

I didn’t plan on becoming a detective, but by using a pair of inquisitive eyes and motion sensing cameras, I stumbled into spying on Tasmania’s most notorious criminals… Cats!

My job is to figure out where cats are in Tasmania, if they know we are spying on them, how many there are, and what kind of environments they like. These kinds of questions are the backbone of invasive species management.

Invasive species management involves figuring out where an introduced species is, how bad it is for the environment, and what we can do about it. It requires logic, planning, strategizing, and, most importantly, investigating! Before we even think about removing a species, we need to know what impacts that will have on our native species, and whether or not it is even possible!

Before cats I studied carp, specifically whether giving them all herpes was a good idea, harmful algal blooms (is it going to get harder to eat shellfish?), and monitoring animals through their poop vs with camera-traps. It may seem like I changed my study topics a lot, but at the core I am always investigating, which is what science is all about! Nowadays I can be found staring at photos of cats on my computer for hours on end.


Follow Alex on Twitter: @TaggingTabbies