Alex Paton


Tabby Tracker

I'm from: Tullah
Current Location: Molesworth/Sandy Bay UTAS
Position: PhD Candidate, School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania
Field of research/work: Applied Ecology
YTS Years: 2021 2022

Alex's Notable career moments

  • Nearly failed maths

  • Was discouraged from taking physical sciences

  • Started a bachelors of Marine and Antarctic Science.

  • Undertook a CSIRO summer vacation scholarship on carp control agents)

  • Then I did a third year project on harmful algal blooms.

    Settled into an honors project comparing different wildlife monitoring methods in forests.

  • I track feral cats using special cameras in Tasmania's wilderness.

About Alex Paton

I didn’t plan on becoming a detective, but through my skills in coding and an array of advanced cameras, I stumbled into spying on Tasmania’s most notorious criminals… Cats! I spend my days four-wheel driving or travelling by boat and light aircraft to explore some of Tasmania’s most remote environments to track down these tricky felines.
This kind of work is called invasive species management. This involves studying animals or plants that have been brought to a place they otherwise wouldn’t be in by humans. Notorious invasive criminals include black rats, foxes, sea spurge, and carp. Managing these species involves figuring out where they are, if they are spreading, how bad they are for the environment, and what we can do to fix the problem. It requires logic, planning, strategizing, and, most importantly, investigating!
My job is to figure out where cats are in Tasmania, if they know we are spying on them, what we can do to lure them to our cameras, how many there are, and what kind of environments they like. These kinds of questions are the backbone of invasive species management.
Before cats, I researched an invasive fish species called carp, and whether or not a disease could be used to control their populations. I also worked harmful algal blooms in the ocean (is it going to get harder to eat shellfish?), examining how climate change influences grassland plants, and monitoring animals through their poop. I have studied lots of different animals and plants in lots of different environments, but at the core I am always investigating, which is what science is all about.

Alex's Photo Gallery