Chair of Applied Ecology and Conservation
School of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Sciences
Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.
I am Adjunct Professor and Chair of Applied Ecology and Conservation in the School of Biological Sciences, at the University of Adelaide in South Australia.
I am an applied ecologist and environmental scientist. My research focuses on developing the Science and science-based decision support tools to help reconcile society’s growing consumptive needs with environmental protection. I address this challenge through field studies and experiments, computer simulations and modelling, as well as by co-opting emerging technologies for use in environmental research and applications. Geographically my research is focused on the developing tropics where population growth is most rapid, the people are poorest, and biodiversity is richest and yet most threatened globally.
My research group is considered a world leader in cross-disciplinary environmental science. I strongly believe in the virtues of collegial and collaborative research. My group has partnered with nongovernmental organisations, policymakers, industry players, social scientists, environmental economists, computer engineers and software developers. I have co-authored publications with >100 colleagues from >20 nations, and from top research institutions, including Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, Cambridge University, ETH Zurich, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
In particular, my group’s research on the impacts of industrial agriculture has spurred significant interest and advancement in this field. Our findings on the environmental and socioeconomic repercussions of an aggressively developing oil-palm industry in Southeast Asia has been published in high impact journals, including Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Nature, Science, Conservation Letters, and Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
Our research also extends to the development of cutting-edge tools to evaluate the consequences and trade-offs of alternative land-use planning scenarios. We often do so through evidence-based modelling of the impacts of land-use change by taking account of a wide range of societal priorities, including food security, human livelihoods, forest preservation, carbon conservation and economic development. Our models have been applied to support policymaking in various contexts, including the trajectories and impacts of agricultural development in Asia and South America.
My group is also a pioneer in the use of emerging technologies for environmental applications. I started using unmanned aircraft (or ‘drones’) for surveying orangutans in the rainforests of Sumatra in 2012. Our work on conservation drones has not only received international public interest and resulted in well-cited publications, but it has also led to the widespread adoption of this transformative technology in the environmental sciences.
Although a big part of my work is concerned with translational research, as exemplified above, I have also made significant contributions to the Science that underpins such applications. For example, my research on matrix-calibrated species-area models helps to improve our understanding and prediction of how land-use change affects biodiversity. Not only has my work on these theoretical models and their applications received significant attention from colleagues, but it has also laid the foundation for new research by students in my group and elsewhere.
I am deeply passionate about the communication of Science to the general public, as evidenced by numerous and regular features on the work of my group by international media, including the New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, Scientific American, NewScientist, Public Radio International, Time Magazine, the Telegraph, Wikipedia, among others.
Date Position Institution name 2018 Adjunct Professor of Applied Ecology and Conservation School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide 2018 Principal (Vice President), Science Partnerships and Innovation Conservation International 2017 - 2018 Professor of Applied Ecology and Conservation University of Adelaide 2016 - 2018 Director, Centre for Applied Conservation Science University of Adelaide 2016 - 2018 Conservation International Research and Innovation Fellow Conservation International 2015 - 2018 Director, Unmanned Research Aircraft Facility University of Adelaide 2015 - 2016 Chief RPAS Controller and Maintenance Controller University of Adelaide 2014 - 2016 Associate Professor of Applied Ecology and Conservation University of Adelaide
Language Competency English Can read, write, speak, understand spoken and peer review
Date Institution name Country Title 2004 - 2008 Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University United States PhD 2001 - 2003 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore Singapore MSc 1997 - 2001 Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore Singapore BSc
Date Title Institution name Country 2015 RPAS Controller Certificate Civil Aviation Safety Authority Australia
Research InterestsCommunity Ecology Conservation and Biodiversity Ecology Environment and Resource Economics Environment Policy Environmental Management Environmental Monitoring Environmental Science and Management Environmental Sciences Environmental Technologies Ethical Use of New Technology General Science & Technology Land Use and Environmental Planning Landscape Ecology Natural Resource Management Research, Science and Technology Policy Terrestrial Ecology
Year Citation 2018 Wich, S., & Koh, L. (2018). Conservation drones: Mapping and monitoring biodiversity. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
2014 Kettle, C., & Koh, L. P. (Eds.) (2014). Global forest fragmentation. CABI International.
Year Citation 2018 Howard, C., Hodgson, J., & Koh, L. (2018). Heart rate measurement of nesting birds using a microphone in a plastic egg. In Acoustics 2018: Hear to Listen. Proceedings of the annual conference of the Australian Acoustical Society. Adelaide, South Australia. 2015 van Gemert, J., Verschoor, C., Mettes, P., Epema, K., Koh, L., & Wich, S. (2015). Nature conservation drones for automatic localization and counting of animals. In L. Agapito, M. Bronstein, & C. Rother (Eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics) Vol. 8925 (pp. 255-270). Zurich, SWITZERLAND: SPRINGER-VERLAG BERLIN.
DOI Scopus18 WoS11
Report for External Bodies
Year Citation 2012 Kapos, V., Kurz, W., Gardner, T., Ferreira, J., Guariguata, M., Koh, L., . . . van Vliet, N. (2012). Impacts of forest and land management on biodiversity and carbon: Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives. Vienna, Austria: International Union of Forest Research Organizations. 2012 Thompson, I., Ferreira, J., Gardner, T., Guariguata, M., Koh, L., Okabe, K., . . . van Vliet, N. (2012). Forest biodiversity, carbon and other ecosystem services: relationships and impacts of deforestation and forest degradation: Understanding Relationships between Biodiversity, Carbon, Forests and People: The Key to Achieving REDD+ Objectives. Vienna, Austria: International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
Year Citation — Hodgson, J., Pham, T., Koh, L. P., & Reid, I. (n.d.). Drones count wildlife more accurately and precisely than humans: semi-automated aerial image counting approach - archived source code and dataset [Computer Software].
My group has secured significant research funding from a diverse portfolio of international, national and local granting bodies:
ARC Research Support
- 2016-19: ARC Linkage Project (LP160100937), Ecology and management of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat, Value: $270,000, CIs: B Ostendorf, M Lewis, LP Koh, R Wells, G Kerr, P Clements, D Shultz, E Sparrow
- 2016-19: ARC Linkage Project (LP160101177), Airborne spatial tracking to save endangered species, Value: $181,194, CIs: D Ranasinghe, LP Koh, K Falkner, B Ostendorf, G Puddy
- 2014-18: ARC Future Fellowship Level II (FT140100670), Balancing Societies’ Priorities in addressing Emerging National and Global Environmental Challenges, Value: $879,112, CI: LP Koh
- 2016-18: Conservation International Strategic Fellows Program, USA, Value: USD$200,000 (~$270,000), CI: LP Koh
- 2016: Morgan Family Foundation, USA, Value: USD$40,000 (~$55,000), CI: LP Koh
- 2016-17: Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources SA (DEWNR), Value: $25,000, CI: LP Koh
- 2016-17: Australian Plant Phenomics Facility - The Plant Accelerator, Value: $93,500, CIs: LP Koh, R Raja Segaran
- 2016-19: Ian Potter Foundation Grant, Value: $400,000, CIs: Bush Heritage Australia, Arid Recovery, ConservationDrones.org (LP Koh)
- 2015-16: Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), Value: $100,000, CI: LP Koh
- 2015-16: SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI), Value: $11,000, CI: LP Koh
- 2015-16: Department of Environment Water and Natural Resources SA (DEWNR), Value: ~$90,000, CI: LP Koh
- 2015: SA Water Corporation, Value: $10,000, CI: LP Koh
- 2013-14: WWF International Project Development Grant, Value: USD$160,000 (~$220,000), CI: LP Koh
- 2011-15: Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship, Value: ~CHF1.1 million (~$1.6 million), CI: LP Koh
- 2011-14: Mercator Foundation Grant, Germany, Value: USD$195,000 (~$265,000), CIs: LP Koh and J Ghazoul
- 2011: National Geographic Society/Waitt Foundation Grant, USA, Value: USD$15,000 (~$20,000), CIs: LP Koh, S Wich
- 2009-12: Swiss National Science Foundation Project Grant, Value: ~CHF172,000 (~$240,000), CIs: LP Koh, J Ghazoul, L Rist
Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)
Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name 2018 Co-Supervisor Exploring Accessible, Customization & Novel Technological Solutions For Enhancing Effectiveness of Biodiversity Conservation Initiatives Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Aakash Lamba 2018 Principal Supervisor Sustainable fire and land management Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Sabine Buchheim 2017 Principal Supervisor Geographic Priority - Setting in the Asia Pacific: A Strategic Analysis Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Tasya Vadya Sarira 2017 Co-Supervisor Wetland Invertebrate Biodiversity as a Reflection of Restoration Endeavours Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Miss Michelle Louise Sargent 2017 Principal Supervisor Sustainable Coffee and Human Behaviour Change Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Jared Bowie 2016 Principal Supervisor Technology in Conservation Master of Philosophy Master Part Time Ms Kylie Piper 2016 Principal Supervisor New Perspectives: Adapting emerging technologies to achieve ecological outcomes Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Jarrod Hodgson 2016 Principal Supervisor Conservation Technology, Biodiversity Monitoring and Citizen Science. Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Alan Stenhouse 2015 Principal Supervisor Spatial Scale Changes the Drivers of Beta-diversity along Land-use, Environmental and Geographic Gradients Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Sreekar Rachakonda 2015 Principal Supervisor Interconnection in Genetic Signature of Sarawak's Orangutans and their Cultural Association with Local Communities Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Mr Joshua Juan Anak George Pandong
Date Role Board name Institution name Country 2016 - 2018 Member Board of Directors Conservation International Singapore Singapore 2012 - ongoing Founder Board of Directors ConservationDrones.org United States
Date Role Editorial Board Name Institution Country 2015 - ongoing Editor Scientific Reports — United Kingdom 2015 - ongoing Editor PeerJ — United States 2014 - ongoing Editor-In-chief Cogent Environmental Science — United Kingdom 2011 - ongoing Editor Biological Conservation — Netherlands
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