Associate Professor Peter Banks
Senior Visiting Fellow
Contact details:

Research & Current Projects

Dynamics and impacts of invasive species

Invasive species are a major threat to biodiversity and agricultural production worldwide and work in my lab examines two key groups of invasive animals; predatory mammals and rodents. 


a. Feral Predators

Feral predators are a primary cause of biodiversity loss and few ecosystems have escaped their impact. Understanding how feral predators affect their prey is a critical conservation objective; not only to identify and protect prey species at risk but also to ensure efficient and targeted management of the problem. Importantly, the future of pest control relies upon ethical and clever solutions to reduce pest impact with minimal impacts on animal welfare.

A major project in this program involves collaboration with researchers at the University of Turku, Finland,  examining the impacts and ecology of invasive mink on wildlife in the Finnish Archipelago. We are using a unique long-term large scale predator removal experiment to reveal the nature of prolonged impacts. Our results to date show that alien mink are altering fundamental ecological processes for migratory aquatic bird species, rodents, and amphibians. Related projects in Australia investigate interactions between competing alien species, and how their interactions with each other influence their impacts on native wildlife.
b. Alien rodents
Alien rodents are arguably the world's worst vertebrate pests. They are major pests of the world's staple foods (rice and wheat), and cause millions of dollars damage in developed countries. In terms of conservation, rats are major predators of birds, insects and other small mammals, and have been directly linked to extinctions in Australia and the Pacific. They also spread disease, out-compete local species and support elevated numbers of predators which go on to kill other native fauna. Despite these impacts, the underlying biology and ecology of the feral rodents are surprisingly poorly known. This program aims to develop a better understanding of the dynamics of two key rodents pests, the black rat and the house mouse by testing theories of population processes. We also use manipulative experiments to reveal the nature of rodent impcts on native species, and the functional role of rodents in ecosystem processes.
Chemical signal exploitation in predator prey interactions

Signalling lies at the heart of behavioural and evolutionary ecology, being the primary means by which animals choose mates and socialise. Yet social signals are open to eavesdropping enemies, including predators which may use prey cues to improve their foraging. In Australia, prey naivete to alien predators is one reason why invasive species have been so devsatating, yet we know little of how predators find their prey. This research program aims to develop a new understanding about the exploitation of social signals by both predator and prey. In doing so we aim to generate new theory on the reactive foraging behaviour of predators and use this theory to solve conservation problems

Conservation Biology of Australian Mammals: Wildlife at the Urban Interface

Australia has suffered the highest rate of mammal extinctions anywhere in the world since 1700. Ongoing impacts of European settlement continue to threatened mammals, making research into their ecology a conservation priority. A range of projects in the lab has examined how native mammals are coping with encroaching urbanisation. In particular, we are involved in a 10 year study of the ecology and dynamics of an endangered long-nosed bandicoot population at North Head, Sydney. The response of this population to ongoing urban development is being used as a model for other native wildlife trapped in pockets of urbanisation.


Research Students


  • Catherine Price (PhD 2007-present) - Novel techniques to improve reintroduction success for endangered wildlife
  • Caragh Threfall (PhD 2008- present) - Microbat diversity in urban landscapes: possible mechanisms influencing regional persistence (with Dr Brad Law SFNSW)
  • Romane Cristescu (PhD 2008-present)- Wildlife use of rehabilitated mine sites (with Prof Frank Carrick UQ)
  • Amanda Guy (PhD 2009-present) A mechanistic approach to wildlife rehabilitation (primary supervisor Dr Darren Curnoe)
  • Hayley Bates (PhD 2008-present) Understanding the altitudinal limits of mountian pygmy possums (primary supervisor Prof Mike Archer)
  • Miguel Bedoya Perez (PhD 2009-presnt USyd) The impacts of plant toxins and predation risk on foraging in the swamp wallaby (primary supervisor Dr Clare McArthur)
  • Wendy Gleen (MSc 2009-present)- Use of weeds by native rodents (with Dr Grainne Cleary)
  • Malith Weerakoon (M Phil 2009- present )- Black rat use of the urban/bushland interface: an experimetnal study using Rb
  • Nicole Hansen (MPhil 2009-present) - The sociobiology of rodent pest control (with Dr Nelika Hughes Australian Wildlife Conservancy)
  • Alex Carthey - (PhD 2009-2013) The role of predator odour in the foraging behaviour of rodents
  • Carolyn Nersesian (Phd 2010 submitted Usyd) -  Herbivore Foraging: balancing plant nutrients,  toxins and predation risk (primary supervisor Dr C McArthur)
  • Vera Nedved (PhD 2010 submitted) - Sex allocation in captive animal populations
  • Nelika Hughes (PhD 2008)- Dangerous liaisons in animal signalling
  • Vicki Stokes (PhD 2007, with Dr Roger Pech, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems) - Ecological role of feral black rats in Australia
  • Ben Russell (PhD 2006) - The ecology of alien and native predator and prey behavioural interactions
  • Peter Brown (PhD 2005)  with Dr Grant Singleton, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems) - The dynamics of compensation in population processes
  • Roy Wilson (MSc 2004) - Ecology of southern-brown bandicoots
  • Matt Hayward (PhD 2003) - The ecology of the mainland Quokka metapopulation
  • Stephen Heavener (2010-present) - Olfactory communication in heterospecifc rodents
  • Stephanie Martin (2009-1010) - Effects of bush regen on black rat habitat use
  • Edith Aloise King (2010-present) - Reproductive investment in the house mouse (primary supervisor Prof Rob Brooks)
  • Rowena Hamer (Hons 2009) - Olfactory communication in frogs
  • Viyanna Leo (Hons 2009) - Intersepcifc olfactory communication in sympattri native rodents
  • Alex Carthey (Hons  2007) - Spatial gradients in prey cues and the foraging success of predators
  • Andrew Lothin (Hons 2007)- Long term dynamics of an endagnered urban bandicoot population
  • Rochelle Basham (Hons 2005) - Bats in Sydney's urban fragments
  • Jessica Bryant (Hons 2005) - Ecological impacts of dog walking
  • Jenna Bytheway (Hons 2005)  - The role of odour in the foraging behaviour of rodents


Hughes, N.K. Price, C.J. and Banks, P.B.  (in press). Predator attraction to prey olfactory signals places conspecific receivers at risk. PLoS One (accepted 5 September 2010)

Basham, R., Law, B.and Banks, P.B. (in press). Microbats in a 'leafy' urbanlandscape: are  they persisting and what factors influence their presence? Austral Ecology(accepted 25 August 2010)
Kirmani, S.N. Banks, P.B. and McArthur, C. (in press) Integrating the costs of plant toxins and predation risk in foraging decisions of a mammalian herbivore.  Oecologia(accepted 14 June 2010)
Barrio IC, Bueno CG, Banks PB and Tortosa, FS (2010). Prey naiveté in an introduced prey species: the wild rabbit in Australia. Behavioural Ecology 21:986-991

Fey, K, Banks, P.B. Ylonen, H and Korpimaki, E. (2010) Behavioural responses of voles to simulated risk of predation by a native and an alien mustelid: an odour manipulation experiment. Wildlife Research 37: 273-282

Salo P, Banks PB, Dickman CR, Korpimäki E (in press). Predator manipulation experiments: impacts on populations of terrestrial vertebrate prey. Ecological Monographs (accepted 3 Feb 2010)
Hughes, NK, Korpimäki E, and Banks PB (2010) The predation risks of interspecific eavesdropping: weasel-vole interactions. Oikos 119:1210-1216
Fey, K, Banks, PB and Korpimäki E (2010) Alien mink predation and colonisation processes of rodent prey on small islands of the Baltic Sea: does prey naïveté matter?International Journal of Ecology Article ID 984396, 7 pages, 2010. doi:10.1155/2010/984396
Hughes, NK & Banks PB (2010) Interacting effects of predation risk and signal patchiness on activity and communication in house mice. Journal of Animal Ecology79:88-97
Stokes, V.L., Banks, P.B., Pech, R.P. and Spratt D.M. (2009). Competition in an invaded rodent community reveals black rats as a threat to native bush rats in littoral rainforest of south-eastern Australia. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 1239-1247
Hughes NK, Kelley, JL,Banks PB (2009) Receiving  behaviour is sensitive to risks from eavesdropping predators. Oecologia 160:609-617.
Young CM, Kimpton KA, Cohen HM, Burns PT, McLaughlin K,Banks PB. (2009) Factors affecting bird attacks on small mammal traps.Australian Zoologist (In press)
Stokes VL, Banks PB, Pech RP &Williams RL. (2009)  Invasion by Rattus rattus into native coastal forests of south-eastern Australia: Are native small mammals at risk? Austral Ecology 34:395-408
Fey K, Banks PB, Korpimaki E (2008) Voles on small islands: effects of food limitation and alien predation.  Oecologia 157: 419-428
Banks PB, Nordström M, Ahola M, Salo P, Fey, K, Korpimäki E (2008) Impacts of alien mink predation on island vertebrate communities of the Baltic Sea Archipelago: review of a long-term experimental study. Boreal Environmental Research 13:3-16
Lovasz TJ Banks PB Croft D (2008) Establishing tourism guidelines for viewing Australian Sea Lions, Neophoca cinerea, at Seal Bay Conservation Park, South Australia. In: Too Close for Comfort (ed by D Lunney, A Munn & W Meikle) Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman pp 225-232.
Miller RW, Stuart, AM, Joshi RC, Banks PB & Singleton GR (2008) Biology and management of rodent communities in complex agroecosystems - rice terraces. In: Philippine Rats: Ecology and Management (eds GR Singleton, RC Joshi & LS Sebastian), Philippines Rice Research Institute, Science City of Munoz. Pp 25-36.
Hochuli DF,Banks PB (2008) Selection pressures on zoology teaching in Australian universities: student perceptions of zoological education and how to improve it.   Australian Zoologist 34:548-553.
Banks PB and Bryant JV (2007) Four-legged friend or foe? dog walking displaces native birds from natural areas.  Biology Letters 3:611-613
Banks PB and Dickman CR (2007). Alien predation and the effects of multiple levels of prey naivete. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 22: 229-230
Salo P, Korpimäki E, Banks PB,  Nordström M, Dickman CR (2007) Alien predators are more dangerous than native predators to prey populations. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B 274:1237-1243 .
Russell BG, Banks PB (2007) Do Australian small mammals respond to native and introduced predator odours? Austral Ecology 32: 277-286
Hayward MW, De Tores PJ, Dillon, MJ, Banks PB (2007) Predicting the occurrence of the quokka, Setonix brachyurus (Macropodidae:Marsupialia), in Western Australia's northern jarrah forest.Wildlife Research 34: 194-199
Banks PB (2007) Guest or pest? Animal rights activism at the RZS Annual Forum  In:Pest or Guest: The zoology of overabundance (eds. D. Lunney, p. Eby, P. Hutchings & S. Burgin). Royal Zoological Society of NSW pp.249-250
Rose TR, Banks PB (2007) Impacts of black rats (Rattus rattus) across an urban/bushland interface at Sydney's North Head. In: Pest or Guest: The zoology of overabundance (ed. eds. D. Lunney, p. Eby, P. Hutchings & S. Burgin). Royal Zoological Society of NSW pp66-75
Brown PR, Huth NI, Banks PB, Singleton GR (2007) Relationship between abundance of rodents and damage to agricultural crops. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Envrionment 120:405-415
Stokes VL, Spratt DM, Banks PB, Pech, RP, Williams, RL (2007) Occurrence ofAngiostrongylus species (Nematoda) in populations of Rattus rattus and Rattus fuscipes in coastal forests of south-eastern Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 55:177-184
Ahola M, Nordström M, Banks PB, Laanetu N, Korpimäki E (2006) Alien mink predation induces prolonged declines in archipelago amphibians. Proceedings of the Royal Society  B-Biological Sciences 273: 1261-5
Pastro LA, Banks PB (2006) Foraging responses of wild house mice to accumulations of conspecific odor as a predation risk. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 60:101-107
Köhler K, Korpimäki E, Banks PB (2006) Different microhabitat preferences of field and bank voles under manipulated predation risk from an alien predator. Annales Zoologica Fennica 43:9-16
Rose TA, Ramp D, Munn AJ, Banks PB (2006)   Foot-thumping as an alarm signal in macropodid marsupials:  a review of prevalence and hypotheses of function. Mammal Review 36:281-298
Munn AJ, Banks PB, Hume ID (2006) Digestive plasticity of the small intestine and caecum in a marsupial herbivore, the Tammar Wallaby (Macropus eugenii). Australian Journal of Zoology 54:287-291
Banks PB (2005) Animal welfare zealots put wildlife welfare at risk. Nature 438:559
Korpimäki E, Oksanen L, Oksanen T, Klemola T, Norrdahl K, Banks PB (2005) Vole cycles and predation in temperate and boreal zones of Europe. Journal of Animal Ecology 74: 1150-1159.
Mitchell BD, Banks PB (2005) Do wild dogs exclude foxes? Evidence for competition from dietary and spatial overlaps. Austral Ecology 30:581-591. Appendix-1
Hayward MW, De Tores PJ, Augee ML, Banks PB (2005) Mortality and survivorship of the quokka (Setonix brachyurus) (Macropodidae : Marsupialia) in the northern jarrah forest of Western Australia. Wildlife Research 32: 715-722.
Hayward MW, De Tores PJ, Dillon MJ, Fox BJ, Banks PB (2005) Using faecal pellet counts along transects to estimate quokka (Setonix brachyurus) population density.Wildlife Research 32:503-505
Brown PR, Tuan  NP, Banks PB (2005) Movements, habitat use and response of ricefield rats to removal in an intensive cropping system in Vietnam. Belgian Journal of Zoology 135: 145-152
Russell BG, Banks PB (2005) Responses of four Critical Weight Range (CWR) marsupials to the odours of native and introduced predators. Australian Zoologist 33:217-222
Hayward MW, De Tores PJ, Banks PB (2005) Habitat use of the Quokka, Setonix brachyurus (Macropodidae: Marsupialia), in the northern jarrah forest of Australia.Journal of Mammalogy 84:683-688
Banks PB, Norrdahl K, Nordstrom M, Korpimäki E (2004) Dynamic impacts of feral mink predation on vole metapopulations in the outer archipelago of the Baltic Sea.Oikos 105:79-88
Kellie A, Dain SJ, Banks PB (2004) Ultraviolet properties of Australian mammal urine.Journal of Comparative Physiology A 190:429-435
Powell F, Banks PB (2004) Do house mice modify their foraging behaviour in response to predator odours and habitat? Animal Behaviour 67:753-759
Stokes VL, Pech RP, Banks PB, Arthur AD (2004) Foraging behaviour and habitat use by Antechinus flavipes and Sminthopsis murina (Marsupialia: Dasyuridae) in response to predation risk in eucalypt woodland. Biological Conservation 117:331-342
Banks PB, Powell F (2004) Does maternal condition or predation risk influence small mammal population dynamics? Oikos 106:176-184
Sutherland DR , Banks PB, Jacobs J, Singleton GR (2004) Shifting age structure of house mice during a population outbreak. Wildlife Research 31:613-618
Hayward MW, de Tores PJ, Augee ML, Fox BJ, Banks PB (2004) Home range and movements of the quokka Setonix brachyurus (Macropodidae: Marsupialia), and its impact on the viability of the metapopulation on the Australian mainland. Journal of Zoology, London 263:219-228
Banks PB (2004) Population viability analysis in urban wildlife management: Modelling management options for Sydney's quarantined Bandicoots. In: Burgin S, Lunney D (eds) Urban Wildlife. Royal Zoological Society, Mosman, pp 70-77
Korpimäki E, Klemola T, Norrdahl K, Oksanen L, Oksanen T, Banks PB, Batzli GO, Henttonen H (2003) Vole cycles and predation. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 18:494-495
Penn AM, Sherwin WB, Lunney D, Banks PB (2003) The effects of a low-intensity fire on small mammals and lizards in a logged, burnt forest. Wildlife Research 30:477-486
Banks PB (2003) Book review "The story of rats" Australian Zoologist 32:271
Banks PB, Hughes NK, Rose TA (2003) Do Australian native small mammals avoid faeces of domestic dogs? Australian Zoologist 32:406-409
Banks PB, Norrdahl K, Korpimäki E (2002) Mobility decisions and the predation risks of reintroduction. Biological Conservation 103:133-138
Banks PB , Powell F (2002) An analysis of the NSW NPWS North Head Long-nosed Bandicoot monitoring program: A report for the NPWS Central Directorate Threatened Species Unit.
Spencer RJ, Thomson MB, Banks PB (2001) Hatch or wait? A dilemma in reptilian incubation. Oikos 93:401-406
Banks PB (2001) Predation-sensitive grouping and habitat use by eastern grey kangaroos: a field experiment. Animal Behaviour 61:1013-1021
Banks PB, Norrdahl K, Korpimäki E (2000) Nonlinearity in the predation risk of prey mobility. Proceedings of the Royal Society  B-Biological Sciences 267:1621-1625
Banks PB, Newsome AE, Dickman CR (2000) Predation by red foxes limits recruitment in populations of eastern grey kangaroos. Austral Ecology 25:283-291
Banks PB, Dickman CR (2000) Effects of winter food supplementation on reproduction, body mass, and numbers of small mammals in montane Australia. Canadian Journal of Zoology 78:1775-1783
Banks PB (2000) Population viability analysis for the Long-nosed Bandicoot population at North Head, NSW: modelling the effects of increased traffic flow on adult mortality. A report to NSW NPWS Central Directorate
Banks PB (2000) Can foxes regulate rabbit populations? Journal of Wildlife Management 64:401-406
Banks PB, Hume ID, Crowe O (1999) Behavioural, morphological and dietary response of rabbits to predation risk from foxes. Oikos 85:247-256
Banks PB (1999) Predation by introduced foxes on native bush rats in Australia: do foxes take the doomed surplus? Journal of Applied Ecology 36:1063-1071
Banks PB (1998) Responses of Australian bush rats, Rattus fuscipes, to the odor of introduced Vulpes vulpes. Journal of Mammalogy 79:1260-1264
Mahon PS, Banks PB, Dickman CR (1998) Population indices for wild carnivores: a critical study in sand-dune habitat, south-western Queensland. Wildlife Research 25:11-22
Banks PB, Dickman CR, Newsome AE (1998) Ecological costs of feral predator control: foxes and rabbits. Journal of Wildlife Management 66:766-772
Newsome AE, Pech RP, Banks PB, Dickman CR, Smythe R (1997) Potential impacts of releasing rabbit Calicivirus disease on Australian native fauna. Australian Government Publishers, Canberra, Australia