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Our researchers

Our history

The USC Detection Dogs for Conservation team was founded in 2015 by USC researcher Dr Romane Cristescu and Associate Professor Celine Frere. They saw massive potential in using detection dogs to protect and preserve Australia's unique wildlife, many species of which are now under threat. USC’s DDC is the only university research group which rescues, trains, tests and deploys detection dogs for conservation in Australia.

Dr Cristescu is also an executive member of the Australian Conservation Dog Network, which includes representatives from universities, non-profit organisations, governments, zoos, research institutions and businesses.

Our researchers

Publications and reports

Romane H Cristescu, Riana Gardiner, Julien Terraube, Kye McDonald, Dan Powell, Alexis L Levengood, Céline H Frère

Difficulties of assessing the impacts of the 2019-2020 bushfires on koalas

Austral Ecology

Anthony J Schultz, Romane H Cristescu, Jon Hanger, Jo Loader, Deidre de Villiers, Celine H Frère

Inbreeding and disease avoidance in a free-ranging koala population

Molecular Ecology 29 (13), 2416-2430 

Romane H Cristescu, Celine H Frere, Desley Whisson

Drones, detection dogs, poo spotting: what’s the best way to conduct Australia’s Great Koala Count?

The Conversation 26

Romane H Cristescu and Celine H Frère

Scientists find burnt, starving koalas weeks after the bushfires

The Conversation 16

Romane H Cristescu, Russell L Miller, Celine H Frère

Sniffing out solutions to enhance conservation: How detection dogs can maximise research and management outcomes, through the example of koalas

Australian Zoologist 40 (3), 416-432 

Romane H Cristescu, Kylie L Scales, Anthony J Schultz, Russell L Miller, David S Schoeman, D Dique, Celine H Frère

Robust Science underpinning legislation can create better outcomes for threatened species impacted by infrastructure projects

Animal Conservation 22 (4), 314-323

Romane H Cristescu, Russell L Miller, Anthony J Schultz, Lyndal Hulse, Damian Jaccoud, Stephen Johnston, Jon Hanger, Rosie Booth, Céline H Frère

Developing noninvasive methodologies to assess koala population health through detecting Chlamydia from scats

Molecular ecology resources 19 (4), 957-969 

Romane H Cristescu, Anthony J Schultz, Celine H Frère, David S Schoeman, and Kylie L Scales

Koala-detecting dogs sniff out flaws in Australia’s threatened species protection

The Conversation 5 

Alice Baudouin, Sylvain Gatti, Florence Levréro, Céline Genton, Romane H Cristescu, Vincent Billy, Peggy Motsch, JeanSébastien Pierre, Pascaline Le Gouar, Nelly Ménard

Disease avoidance, and breeding group age and size condition the dispersal patterns of western lowland gorilla females

Ecology 100 (9), e02786

Anthony J Schultz, Romane H Cristescu, Bethan L LittlefordColquhoun, Damian Jaccoud, Céline H Frère

Fresh is best: Accurate SNP genotyping from koala scats

Ecology and evolution 8 (6), 3139-3151

Romane H Cristescu, Kylie L Scales, Anthony J Schultz, Russell L Miller, David S Schoeman, D Dique, Celine H Frère

Misinterpretation of species distributions in Environmental impact Assessments: a case study of koalas in Southeast Queensland.

Animal Conservation DOI:10.1111/acv.12455


Céline Genton, Romane Cristescu, Sylvain Gatti, Florence Levréro, Elodie Bigot, Peggy Motsch, Pascaline Le Gouar, JeanSébastien Pierre, Nelly Ménard

Using demographic characteristics of populations to detect spatial fragmentation following suspected ebola outbreaks in great apes

American journal of physical anthropology 164 (1), 3-10

Romane H Cristescu, Emily Foley, Anna Markula, Gary Jackson, Darryl Jones, Céline Frere

Accuracy and efficiency of detection dogs: a powerful new tool for koala conservation and management

Scientific Reports 5 (1), 1-6 

Céline Genton, Amandine Pierre, Romane Cristescu, Florence Lévréro, Sylvain Gatti, JeanSébastien Pierre, Nelly Ménard, Pascaline Le Gouar

How ebola impacts social dynamics in gorillas: a multistate modelling approach

Journal of Animal Ecology 84 (1), 166-176

Alistair Melzer, Romane Cristescu, William Ellis, Sean FitzGibbon, Gabriella Manno

The habitat and diet of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Queensland

Australian Mammalogy 36 (2), 189-199

Romane H Cristescu, Peter B Banks, Frank N Carrick, Celine H Frere

Potential “Ecological Traps” of Restored Landscapes: Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) Re-Occupy a Rehabilitated Mine Site

PLOS ONE 8 (11) 

Romane H Cristescu, Jonathan Rhodes, Céline Frére, Peter B Banks

Is restoring flora the same as restoring fauna? Lessons learned from koalas and mining rehabilitation

Journal of Applied Ecology 50 (2), 423-431

Romane H Cristescu, Céline Frère, Peter B Banks

A review of fauna in mine rehabilitation in Australia: Current state and future directions

Biological Conservation 149 (1), 60-72 

Olivia Woosnam-Merchez, Romane Cristescu, David Dique, Bill Ellis, Robert Beeton, Jeremy Simmonds, Frank Carrick

What faecal pellet surveys can and can’t reveal about the ecology of koalas

Australian Zoologist 36 (2), 192-200 

Romane H Cristescu, Klara Goethals, Peter B Banks, Frank N Carrick, Céline Frere

Experimental evaluation of koala scat persistence and detectability with implications for pellet-based fauna census

International Journal of Zoology 2012 

Celine Genton, Romane Cristescu, Sylvain Gatti, Florence Levrero, Elodie Bigot, Damien Caillaud, Jean-Sebastien Pierre, Nelly Menard

Recovery potential of a western lowland gorilla population following a major Ebola outbreak: results from a ten year study

PloS one 7 (5), e37106

R Cristescu, W Ellis, D De Villiers, K Lee, O Woosnam-Merchez, C Frere, PB Banks, D Dique, S Hodgkison, H Carrick, D Carter, P Smith, F Carrick

North Stradbroke Island: an island ark for Queensland’s koala population?

The Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 117, 309-334

Romane Cristescu, Valma Cahill, William B Sherwin, Kathrine Handasyde, Kris Carlyon, Desley Whisson, Catherine A Herbert, Britt Louise J Carlsson, Alan N Wilton, Des W Cooper

Inbreeding and testicular abnormalities in a bottlenecked population of koalas

Wildlife Research 36 (4), 299-308

Mark M Tanaka, Romane H Cristescu, Desmond W Cooper

Effective population size of koala populations under different population management regimes including contraception

Wildlife Research 36 (7), 601-609

Damien Caillaud, Florence Levréro, Romane Cristescu, Sylvain Gatti, Maeva Dewas, Mélanie Douadi, Annie Gautier-Hion, Michel Raymond, Nelly Ménard

Gorilla susceptibility to Ebola virus: the cost of sociality

Current Biology 16 (13), 489-491

  1. Hohwieler KR & Cristescu RH (2021). Cool Country koala Project 2020-2021: Northern Tablelands Koala Habitat and Pilot Disease Project Final Report

  2. McDonald K & Cristescu RH (2020). Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island) Drone Koala Surveys. Final report to Redland City Council

  3. Cristescu RH, Hohwieler K; Gardiner R; deVilliers D & CH Frere (2019). Cool Country Koala project 2018/2019 Final Report

  4. Cristescu RH, Littleford-Colquhoun B; Hohwieler K; Gardiner R & CH Frere (2019). Increasing knowledge about the distribution and genetics of the Sunshine Coast koalas – Final Report to Sunshine Coast Regional Council

  5. Cristescu RH, Hohwieler K, Strickland K, Littleford-Colquhoun B & CH Frère (2018). Report for Redland City Council: Final Report: Q-1864-17_18-ERE – Koala Population Assessment Project

  6. Cristescu RH, Frère CH, Strickland K & B Littleford-Colquhoun (2018). Report for Noosa Biosphere: Mapping koala health across the Noosa Biosphere to inform better management

  7. Cristescu RH & CH Frère (2017). Report for Northern Tablelands Local Land Services: Koala Management Plan for the Northern Tablelands

  8. Frère CH & RH Cristescu (2016). Report for the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads: Ecological surveys (including landscape genetic connectivity and disease analysis) for Impact Assessment koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus): Tinana - Bruce Highway Upgrade Project

Contact us

For more information or enquiries regarding partnerships, consultancy services or postgraduate opportunities, please contact Dr Romane Cristescu.

For any media enquiries, please contact media@usc.edu.au.