Dr Bethan Littleford-Colquhoun

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Dr Bethan Littleford-Colquhoun


Postdoctoral Researcher

PhD Sunshine Coast, MSc in Conservation and Biodiversity (Distinction) Exe, BSc (Hons) in Conservation Biology and Ecology Exe

+61 7 5459 4631
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Dr Bethan Littleford-Colquhoun


Dr Bethan Littleford-Colquhoun's research interests lie in evolutionary ecology and conservation biology; with a particular interest in understanding what effects urbanisation can have on species which inhabit our city spaces.

To date, Beth's research has explored whether isolated populations of the eastern water dragon found within the urban matrix of Brisbane, Australia, undergo evolutionary patterns similar to those of island archipelagos, and whether they should be considered independent evolutionary units.

By measuring multiple independent traits of eastern water dragons (genetics, morphology, density and gut microbiota) Beth has been able to show that the impacts of city life are trait dependent with extensive local differentiation found between city populations. Currently, Beth is a Postdoctoral Researcher for Detection Dogs for Conservation (DDC) at USC, helping provide stakeholders with data on genetic connectivity, presence of disease and koala health in vulnerable koala populations across south east Australia.

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Journal articles
  • Schultz, AJ., Cristescu, RH., Littleford‐Colquhoun, BL., Jaccoud, D and Frère, CH, 2018, Fresh is best: Accurate SNP genotyping from koala scats, Ecology and Evolution, 8
  • Littleford‐Colquhoun, BL., Clemente, C., Whiting, MJ., Ortiz‐Barrientos, D and Frère, CH, 2017, Archipelagos of the Anthropocene: rapid and extensive differentiation of native terrestrial vertebrates in a single metropolis, Molecular Ecology, 26
  • Frère, CH., Nugent, DR., Littleford-Colquhoun, BL and Strickland, K, 2015, Intellagama lesueurii Eastern water dragon: Cannibalism, Herpetological Bulletin, 133
  • Brown, AM., Kopps, A., Allen, SJ., Bejder, L.,  Littleford-Colquhoun, BL., Parra, GJ., Cagnazzi, D., Thiele, D., Palmer, C and Frère, CH., 2014, Population Differentiation and Hybridisation of Australian Snubfin (Orcaella heinsohni) and Indo-Pacific Humpback (Sousa chinensis) Dolphins in North-Western Australia, PLoS One, 9
Magazine articles
  • Frere, CH., Strickland, K and Littleford-Colquhoun, BL, 2018, How to ‘change’ your dragon, Wildlife Australia, 55, 9

Research grants

Project name Investigator(s) Funding body Year Focus
Understanding how city life effects the gut microbiome of urban-dwelling dragons. Littleford-Colquhoun, BL and Frere, CH. USC Faculty HDR Student Research Grant A$5000  2015/16 We know that city-dwelling animals are changing their diet, however, we do not know how this influences their gut microbial community. This knowledge is critical given that gut microbiota influences health, fitness and the ability to cope with stress.

Understanding the gut microbial composition of the vulnerable koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) across South-East Queensland to aid with conservation efforts.

Littleford-Colquhoun, BL and Weyrich, LS. USC Faculty Early Career Research Grant A$4000 2018/19 It is vital that we better understand how habitat fragmentation impacts koala health. An underappreciated indicator of animal wellbeing is digestive health as gut microbial communities play a critical role in host health and fitness. This project aims to explore microbiota impacts due to range shifts and determine gut microbial effects of Chlamydia pecorum infections.
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