Hawthorne Beyer


My research is at the interface between people and the environment, more specifically how biological systems are impacted by humans and the implications of this for management of both environmental and social systems. My applied research promotes evidence-based management using quantitative modelling and operations research methods to develop decision support systems for better managing environmental systems. I have applied this approach to a variety of environmental management problems including fire planning, zoning plans, wildlife disease management, landscape scale forest restoration and protected area prioritisation. My principal current and near-term future research interests are: (i) prescribed fire management planning in Australia to maximise multiple objectives; (ii) robust, global-scale coral reef conservation planning in the context of uncertainty arising from climate change; and (iii) large scale forest restoration planning in Brazil to maximise biodiversity and carbon returns and inform the creation of national offset markets. All three of these themes involve the development of novel, evidence-based, quantitative approaches to management and decision support.

My work outside of the realm of Academia includes developing free software to facilitate geospatial modelling and analysis (‘Hawthstools’ and the Geospatial Modelling Environment) that have been downloaded over 180,000 times.


For the last three years I have co-taught the Sampling design and analysis in conservation science course within the Master of Environmental Management and Master of Conservation Biology programmes at the University of Queensland (10 one-hour lectures). I have had strong student evaluations in this course, scoring 4.82-5.0 (2015) and 4.5-4.65 (2016) out of 5.0 across 8 evaluation criteria. I have also taught 9 workshops that I created and led (41 hours, c. 330 participants), including 4 workshops at national or international conferences. My strongest contribution to teaching would be in quantitative subjects, including mathematical modelling, statistics, optimisation, and decision theory within an ecology, conservation biology, or geospatial analysis context.

Recent news

October 2017: I am teaching in the Survey Design and Analysis course again this year for the Master of Conservation Science Course at UQ.

December 2016: I won the School Staff Award this year! What a pleasant surprise. It is rather embarassing to be singled out for an award when you are surrounded by people who are brighter and more productive than you, but appreciated nonetheless. Thanks to those who nominated me and voted for me.

December 2016: Teaching evalutions are in for this year… 4.55/5 overall.

December 2016: I spent one week in Malaysia this month visiting Ahimsa Arceiz, Jamie Wadie and others at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and Krau Wildlife Reserve. It was a great workshop and I very much enjoyed being back in Malaysia. Rather disheartening to see vast expanses of oil palm though. Conservation in SE Asia is a major concern.

December 2016. Both Honours students I worked closely with this year were awarded Firsts. Well done Brooke and Alannah!

August 2016: I became an editor for Conservation Letters this year. I really like this journal and the Editors in Chief (Eddie Game, EF Milner-Gulland and Mark Schwartz) are top notch people.

March 2016: Our paper on using integer linear programming to solve conservation planning problems came out today. I think this will be useful to a lot of people. I was very impressed with the turn-around at Ecological Modelling: the paper went from accepted to published within just a few days.

November 2015: Spent one month in Brazil working with many superb collaborators. Brazil is a remarkable place: larger than Australia and with huge potential for conservation. I am collaborating on a jaguar popluation modelling and conservation plannnig project, several very exciting forest restoration planning projects with IIS, and a threatened species analysis.

Recent blogs

Introduction to GIS using R
Quantifying barrier permeability and proximity avoidance by animals
Competition, predation, and migration – individual choice patterns of Serengeti migrants captured by hierarchical models
Herding cats and other perspectives on the organisation of our science
Evidence-based policy-making – improving the impact of research
…see all posts
CV (PDF) Google Scholar Researcher ID

Australian Research Council DECRA Research Fellow


ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions &

Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science &

Environmental Decisions Group,

School of Biological Sciences, Goddard Building