Katherine Hill

Miss Katherine Hill

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

PhD Candidate

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences, Engineering and Technology

I am a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide. My research focuses on understanding the domestic pet trade of Australian native and exotic birds, and adapting forensic technology to trace their origins.

The transport of animals through the pet trade alters global environments by providing novel introduction pathways for new invasive species, and unsustainably extracting wild animals from their native environments. However, natural resource management and biosecurity practitioners currently lack the ability to determine the origins of these animals. For my PhD research, I am adding to the "toolbox" of forensic methods for tracing the movements of animals through the pet trade and determining their origins. 

(1) Dynamics of the online domestic pet trade

I am looking at the extent of the online domestic pet trade of Australian parrots, including which bird species are popular in Australian pet trade, where they are being traded, and in what numbers. This information will let me identify which traits make a bird popular, such as the colour, its ability to mimic speech, or its price; and to find which species are being sold outside of their native range and may establish as new invasive species.

(2) Stable isotopes to determine captive or wild origins

I am adapting the use of stable isotopes, a well-established forensic technique, for a new application in wildlife forensics. "You are what you eat" with stable isotopes - by measuring their abundance in the feathers of native Australian parrots, I can determine what it has been eating and hence if it is from captivity or is wild. This will help identify if the parrot was illegally wild-caught and being laundered as captive-bred, and if an exotic species is a recently escaped pet or an established invasive species.



2020 - Ecological Society of Australia; Holsworth Wildlife Research Endowment

2020 - Urrbrae War Memorial Scholarship

  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2019 - ongoing Founder School of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Association (SoBSPA) The University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: PhD Candidate
  • Phone: 83132546
  • Email: katherine.hill@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Benham, floor G
  • Org Unit: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

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