Dr Karen Rowe
Hugh D. T. Williamson Research Fellow
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I am broadly interested in understanding the distribution and dynamics of species in space and time. Research in my lab covers a broad range of projects and taxonomic groups and relies heavily on museum collections and field notes, field-based biodiversity surveys, and molecular genetics. My current research investigates how bioacoustics technology can improve our understanding of species' distributions in the present as well as how they change over time, but students in my lab cover diverse topics related to museum- and field-based approaches to studying ecology and evolution.
My PhD work focused on reproductive behavioural ecology, inlcuding molecular-based genetic approaches to extra-pair paternity and sexually-selected phenotypic traits in a North American songbird. After completing my PhD, I have worked on a range of research projects around the world. As a visiting fellow at Southern Cross University, NSW I worked on the population genetics and systematics of endangered Australian fauna, and as a post-doctoral associate at the University of California, Berkeley on the Grinnell Resurvey Project, using historical museum records to document mammalian and avian responses to 100 years of climate change in the western United States.
I joined Museums Victoria in May of 2011 and in 2012, was selected as the Ian Potter-Williamson Biodiversity Research Fellow where I investigated novel acoustic monitoring methods for detecting bird species using digital audio recorders and automated species recognition of bird vocalisations. I currently hold a position as the Hugh Williamson Research Fellow where my research into acoustic monitoring branches into the field of citizen science to aid in landscape-scale monitoring of birds.
PhD, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2007
BSc, Zoology with Honours, Towson University, 1999
oshi, K.A., R.A. Mulder, and K.M.C. Rowe. 2017. Comparing manual and automated species recognition in the detection of four common south-east Australian forest birds from digital field recordings. Emu-Austral Ornithology. p 1-14.
Rowe, K.C., K.M.C. Rowe, M. Koo, M.W. Tingley, J.L. Patton, C.J. Conroy, J. Perrine, S.R. Beissinger, and C. Moritz. 2015. Spatially heterogeneous impact of climate change on small mammals of montane California. Proceedings Royal Society of London, Series B, 282:20141857. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1857
Joseph, L., A. Toon, Á.S. Nyári, N.W. Longmore , K.M.C. Rowe, T. Haryoko, J. Trueman, and J. Gardner. 2014. A new synthesis of the molecular systematics and biogeography of honeyeaters (Passeriformes: Meliphagidae) highlights biogeographical and ecological complexity of a spectacular avian radiation. Zoologica Scripta, 43:235-248. doi: 10.1111/zsc.12049
Smith, A.B., M. Santos, M.S. Koo, K.M.C. Rowe, K.C. Rowe, J. Patton, J. Perrine, S.J. Beissinger, and C. Moritz. 2013. Evaluation of species distribution models by resampling of sites surveyed a century ago by Joseph Grinnell. Ecography, 36:1017-1031. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2013.00107.x
Rowe, K. M.C. and P. J. Weatherhead. 2007. Social and ecological factors affecting paternity allocation in American robins with overlapping broods. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 61:1283-1291. doi: 10.1007/s00265-007-0359-5
Projects and events
Listening for Nature: Listening for Nature: community-driven acoustic monitoring
Generously funded for three years by the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation, the Listening for Nature project aims to build Victoria's capacity and participation in acoustic monitoring for birds. Aspects of the project are focused on providing training and expertise in acoustic monitoring for land managers, conservation officers, and community groups as well as developing a publically-available digital sound library resource of Victorian bird calls, songs, and soundscapes.
In 2016, the Listening for Nature project expanded to include collaboration with the Victorian National Parks Association (VNPA) to develop a community-driven acoustic monitoring programme focused on birds, named Communities Listening for Nature. With this partnership, community groups develop and lead monitoring projects using automated recorders and sound recognition technology with help from VNPA and our research group. This aspect of the Listening for Nature project was funded by a Helen Macpherson Smith Trust Social Impact grant for three years.
Improving species detection with automated recognition in long-duration field recording
Work in our lab uses a range of approaches to automate the detection of bird species within field recordings collected using automated recorders. Focal species include both common and rare birds with emphasis on improving monitoring and conservation outcomes.
Characterising species diversity from soundscapes
Using recent developments in the field of soundscape ecology, our lab addresses questions relating to the accuracy of species diversity metrics, including how well they can be used as a rapid biodiversity inventory tool. This work is focused primarily in Sulawesi, Indonesia, a biodiversity hotspot.
Teaching and students
I'm available for student supervision.
Current Lab Members
Georgia Huggett - Masters (2017-present)
Georgia's Masters project will compare the detection of five vocal arboreal marsupials from spotlighting and acoustic surveys across a range of population densities.
Kate Trewin - Masters (2016-present)
Kate's research focuses on developing methods and processes of automated sound recognition to improve the detection of southeast Australian parrots for monitoring and conservation.
Sarah Nielsen - Masters (2017-present)
Sarah's work explores the use of bioacoustic indices to rapidly assess bird biodiversity in remote regions of Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Past Lab Members
Alina Pung - Masters (2014-16)
Alina completed her Masters degree in 2016, where her research explored the trade-offs between prescribed burning regimes and the benefits to biodiversity. She used automated recorders to evaluate the presences of six species of birds across a range of fire frequencies and intervals.
Dr. Amy Adams - Post-doctoral Associate (2015-16)
Amy's work in our lab has focused on improving methods of automated recognition of birds.
Kara Joshi - Masters (2013-14)
Kara completed her Masters degree at Museum Victoria and the University of Melbourne in 2014. Her thesis evaluated the time and cost trade-offs between manual and automated methods of species identification in long-duration field recordings.
Recent Courses Taught
Guest Lecturer, Australian Wildife Biology (University of Melbourne)
Assistant Course Instructor, Field Biology of Australian Wildlife (University of Melbourne)
Course Instructor, Principles of Ecology (Berkeley City College, USA)
Peer Reviewed Publications
Joshi, K.A., R. Mulder, and K.M.C. Rowe. 2017. Comparing manual and automated species recognition in the detection of four common southeast Australian forest birds from digital field recordings. Emu – Austral Ornithology, p 1-14.
Burns, P.A., K.M.C. Rowe, B. Holmes, and K.C. Rowe. 2016. Historical resurveys reveal persistence of smoky mouse (Pseudomys fumeus) populations over the long-term and through the short-term impacts of fire. Wildlife Research 42: 668-677.
Clemann, N., K.M.C. Rowe, K.C. Rowe, T. Raadik, M. Gomon, P. Menkhorst, J. Sumner, D. Bray, M.
Norman, and J. Melville. 2015. Value and impacts of collecting vertebrate voucher specimens, with guidelines for ethical collection. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 72:141-151.
Rowe, K.C., K.M.C. Rowe, M. Koo, M.W. Tingley, J.L. Patton, C.J. Conroy, J. Perrine, S.R. Beissinger,
and C. Moritz. 2015. Spatially heterogeneous impact of climate change on small mammals of montane California. Proceedings Royal Society of London, Series B 282:20141857.
Joseph, L., A. Toon, Á.S. Nyári, N.W. Longmore , K.M.C. Rowe, T. Haryoko, J. Trueman, and J. Gardner. 2014. A new synthesis of the molecular systematics and biogeography of honeyeaters (Passeriformes: Meliphagidae) highlights biogeographical and ecological complexity of a spectacular avian radiation. Zoologica Scripta 43:235-248.
Smith, A.B., M. Santos, M.S. Koo, K.M.C. Rowe, K.C. Rowe, J. Patton, J. Perrine, S.J. Beissinger, and C.
Moritz. 2013. Evaluation of species distribution models by resampling of sites surveyed a century ago by Joseph Grinnell. Ecography 36:1017-1031.
C.J. Conroy, K.C. Rowe, K.M.C. Rowe, P.L. Kamath, K.P. Aplin, L. Hui, D. James, C. Moritz, and J.L.
Patton. 2013. Cryptic genetic diversity in Rattus of the San Francisco Bay region, California. Biological Invasions 15:741-758.
Rowe, K.M.C., K.C. Rowe, M.S. Elphinstone, and P.R. Baverstock. 2012. Population structure, timing
of divergence, and contact between lineages in the endangered Hastings River mouse, Pseudomys oralis. Australian Journal of Zoology 59:186-200.
Snyder, H.K., R. Maia, L.D’Alba, A.J. Shultz, K.M.C. Rowe, K.C. Rowe, and M.D. Shawkey. 2012.
Iridescent colour production in hairs of blind golden moles (Chrysochloridae). Biology Letters 8:393-396.
Rowe, K.M.C. and P.J. Weatherhead. 2011. Assortative mating in relation to plumage traits shared
by male and female American Robins. The Condor 113:881-889.
Rowe, K.M.C. and P.J. Weatherhead. 2009. A third incubation tactic: delayed incubation by
American Robins (Turdus migratorius). The Auk 126:141-146.
Rowe, K.M.C. and P.J. Weatherhead. 2007. Social and ecological factors affecting paternity allocation in American robins with overlapping broods. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 61:1283-1291.
Weatherhead, P.J., G. Blouin-Demers, and K.M. Cavey. 2003. Seasonal and prey-size dietary patterns of black ratsnakes (Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta). American Midland Naturalist 150:275-281.
Rowe, K.M.C. 2014. Alps Bioscan: Alpine National Park Bird Census. Technical Report to Parks Victoria.
Rowe, K.M.C. and N.W. Longmore. 2013. Grampians Bioscan: Grampians National Park Bird Census. Technical Report to Parks Victoria.
Rowe, K.M.C. and K.K. Roberts. 2012. Chapter 1: Mammals. Final Report for Bush Blitz: Neds Corner Station. K.M.C. Rowe and M. Norman (eds.). Technical Report to the Australian Biological Resources Survey. 63 pp.
Rowe, K.M.C. Mammals. 2012. Prom Bioscan: Wilsons Promontory National Park Faunal Census. Technical Report to Parks Victoria. 81 pp.
J. Hale, K.M.C. Rowe, and M. Norman (eds.). 2012. Bush Blitz: Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape. Technical Report to the Australian Biological Resources Survey. 101 pp.
Rowe, K.M.C., A.B. Smith, M.S. Koo, S.J. Beissinger, and C. Moritz. 2012. Region-wide planning for resurvey of vertebrate diversity over the last 100 years in the Great Basin and Mojave Desert. Final Report. Natural Resource Technical Report. National Park Service. (In review). 87 pp.
Smith, A.B., M.S. Koo, K.M.C. Rowe, J.L. Patton, S.J. Beissinger, and C. Moritz. 2011. Testing methods for predicting mammalian species’ responses to 20th century climate change in California. California Energy Commission, Public Interest Energy Research Program. 66 pp.