Tahlia Perry

Miss Tahlia Perry

Higher Degree by Research Candidate

PhD Student

School of Biological Sciences

Faculty of Sciences

My current research is bridging together fields of genetics, biochemistry and bioinformatics with ecology, conservation, and citizen science for the sake of one of the world’s oldest surviving mammals - the echidna. My PhD project involves developing molecular tools for echidna conservation and captive breeding, whilst simultaneously gaining novel insights into their unique biology. I am very passionate about conservation, science communication and have enjoyed working with all forms of media including radio, television, newspaper and social.

The Kangaroo Island echidna population has now been listed as endangered. They face threats such as predation by introduced animals (cats), are common road kill and suffer from habitat loss and fragmentation. As these threats exist on mainlaind Australia, it is likely that other populations are too in danger – however, as echidnas are very cryptic animals, large population analyses have not been undertaken.

As part of my PhD I have initiated a Citizen Science project called EchidnaCSI. This is project allows the public to submit photos of echidnas they see in the wild through a dedicated app so that we can get a better idea of their distribution around Australia. We are also encouraging people to collect their scats and send them to us. The project has been very successful since it’s launch in September 2017, within one year over 5000 people have registered through the app providing 3000 sightings of echidnas and ~200 scats sent in from across Australia.

From the scat samples collected through EchidnaCSI I will be testing the DNA and hormones that exists within them. In scats there is an abundance of DNA from the echidna itself, food it’s eaten, bacteria living in its gut and plants from surrounding area so we can investigate areas such as echidna diet, health and population diversity. Echidna scats also have important hormones that can indicate their stress levels and how reproductively active they are. Currently, I am developing these tests with scats collected from captive echidnas at Perth Zoo. Once these molecular tests are established they can be used to also help the captive populations indicate reproductive activity or stressful situations.

Furthermore I am investigating the fascinating monotreme reproduction and development by identifying genes and pathways that regulate these processes. As the only egg-laying mammals, their unique biology is still much of a mystery. My lab, headed by Professor Frank Grutzner, is world leading for our research on monotreme biology. We have the most extensive tissue collection for both echidnas and platypuses that allow us to investigate such interesting aspects such as reproduction and development that may not only give insights into monotreme biology, but the evolution of our own reproductive system.

To see more about EchidnaCSI or to download the app head to our website: www.grutznerlab.weebly.com/echidna-csi.html
or Facebook page: www.facebook.com/EchidnaCSI/


  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2017 Award Best Poster at BioInfoSummer 2017 AMSI Australia $400
    2017 Award 3MT Faculty of Sciences People's Choice Winner University of Adelaide $250
    2017 Award 3MT School of Biological Sciences Winner University of Adelaide $250
    2017 Achievement Famelab Australia Finalist
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2016 University of Adelaide Australia PhD (Genetics and Evolution)
    2015 - 2015 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science (Honours)
    2012 - 2014 University of Adelaide Australia Bachelor of Science

Nature Foundation SA - PhD Grand Start Scholarship Program - 2018

AMSI-BHP Billiton Foundation - CHOOSEMATHS Travel Grants for Women for BioInfoSummer - 2017

Nature Conservation Society of South Australia - Conservation Biology Grant - 2017

Guest Lecturer - GENETICS III: Genes, Genomes and Molecular Evolution

Practical Demonstrator - GENETICS III: Genes, Genomes and Molecular Evolution
2017 - present

  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2017 - 2017 Member School of Biological Sciences Postgraduate Symposium University of Adelaide Australia
    2017 - ongoing Member Australian Citizen Science Conference 2018 Organising Committee University of Adelaide Australia
    2016 - ongoing Treasurer Adelaide University Biosciences Network University of Adelaide Australia
  • Position: PhD Student
  • Phone: 83137514
  • Email: tahlia.perry@adelaide.edu.au
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Molecular Life Sciences, floor 2
  • Room: 2 14
  • Org Unit: Molecular and Biomedical Science

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