A/Prof Jonathan Rhodes

Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes is based in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science at The University of Queensland (UQ). He received his PhD in Ecology in 2005 and has been at UQ since 2007, after two years at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Hobart before that. His primary research interests lie in understanding the spatial processes that drive biodiversity and ecosystem services, and developing fundamental principles for decision-making in conservation.



  • Bachelor of Arts (Hons), Kent.

  • Doctor of Philosophy, The University of Queensland

  • Bachelor of Science (hons), University of East Anglia

Research Themes

Landscape and Climate Change

A major theme of Jonathan’s work to date is answering critical questions about the effect of human-induced landscape change and climate change on wildlife, biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The most significant aspect of this work has been advances in our understanding of the effect of landscape and climate change on koala populations over the past 15 years. This work has revolutionised our understanding of the ecology of koalas towards a more holistic landscape and regional perspective. Major contributions have been: the finding of large variations in habitat thresholds across the koala’s range (Rhodes et al. 2008), the discovery that climate change and drought has been a major driver of koalas declines in western Queensland and New South Wales (Seabrook et al. 2011, Santika et al. 2014), understanding the cumulative impact of multiple threats (Rhodes et al. 2011) and understanding the importance of landscape structure on genetic connectivity at multiple scales (Dudaniec et al. 2013).

More recently he has worked on reconceptualising, for ecosystem services, ideas on the effect of landscape structure originally developed for biodiversity (Mitchell et al. 2015). This work demonstrates that the effect of fragmentation on ecosystem services can be vastly different from that predicted by existing theory for biodiversity once the supply, demand and flow of ecosystem services are accounted for. He is currently working on testing predictions from this new conceptualisation in real systems.

Finally, Jonathan has an interest in the interacting effects of climate change and landscape change and has made important discoveries in this area. For example, his work has shown that the effect of habitat loss interacts strongly with climate (Mantyka-Pringle et al. 2012, Mantyka-Pringle et al. 2015) and that the effect of sea level rise interacts strongly with other threats (Trail et al. 2011) to drive biodiversity outcomes.

Conservation Decision-making

A second major focus of Jonathan's work is understanding how threat, ecological, and social processes drive optimal decisions and trade-offs for biodiversity, ecosystem services and other values. This work draws on decision theory as a tool and to date has focussed decision-making in dynamic landscapes, under sea level rise and for socio-ecological systems. More recently he has been exploring strategic approaches for the management of risk.

Value of Information

A further theme of Jonathan’s work is in the area of monitoring and prioritisation of research investment for improved environmental outcomes. This work focusses on the monitoring of ecological components of environmental systems and the monitoring and research prioritisation in socio-ecological systems.




Policy Evaluation

One of the major objectives of applied conservation research is to inform policy decisions for greater environmental sustainability. We achieve this by working closely with governments and non-governmental organisations and focusing our work around the evaluation of realistic policy options for a wide range of issues that include koala conservation, forest protection, and offset policies.



Featured Publications


Maron, Martine, Mitchell, Matthew G. E., Runting, Rebecca K., Rhodes, Jonathan R., Mace, Georgina M., Keith, David A. and Watson, Jason E. M. (2017) Towards a threat assessment framework for ecosystem services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 32 4: 240-248. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2016.12.011

Runting, Rebecca K., Lovelock, Catherine E., Beyer, Hawthorne L. and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2017) Costs and opportunities for preserving coastal wetlands under sea level rise. Conservation Letters, 10 1: 49-57. doi:10.1111/conl.12239


Runting, Rebecca K., Bryan, Brett A., Dee, Laura E., Maseyk, Fleur J. F., Mandle, Lisa, Hamel, Perrine, Wilson, Kerrie A., Yetka, Kathleen, Possingham, Hugh P. and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2017) Incorporating climate change into ecosystem service assessments and decisions: a review. Global Change Biology, 23 1: 28-41. doi:10.1111/gcb.13457


Mitchell, Matthew G. E., Wu, Dan, Johansen, Kasper, Maron, Martine, McAlpine, Clive and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2016) Landscape structure influences urban vegetation vertical structure. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53 S: 1477-1488. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12741


Caynes, Rhiannon J. C., Mitchell, Matthew G. E., Wu, Dan Sabrina, Johansen, Kasper and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2016) Using high-resolution LiDAR data to quantify the three-dimensional structure of vegetation in urban green space.Urban Ecosystems, 1-17. doi:10.1007/s11252-016-0571-z


Dudaniec, Rachael Y., Worthington Wilmer, Jessica, Hanson, Jeffrey O., Warren, Matthew, Bell, Sarah and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2016) Dealing with uncertainty in landscape genetic resistance models: a case of three co-occurring marsupials. Molecular Ecology, 25 2: 470-486. doi:10.1111/mec.13482


Wilson, Howard B., Rhodes, Jonathan R. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2015) Two additional principles for determining which species to monitor. Ecology, 96 11: 3016-3022. doi:10.1890/14-1511.1


Santika, Truly, McAlpine, Clive A., Lunney, Daniel, Wilson, Kerrie A. and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2015) Assessing spatio-temporal priorities for species' recovery in broad-scale dynamic landscapes. Journal of Applied Ecology, 52 4: 832-840. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12441


Mantyka-Pringle, Chrystal S., Visconti, Piero, Di Marco, Moreno, Martin, Tara G., Rondinini. Carlo and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2015) Climate change modifies risk of global biodiversity loss due to land-cover change. Biological Conservation, 187 103-111. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2015.04.016

Maxwell, S.L, Milner-Gulland, E.J, Jones, J.P.G, Knight, A.T, Bunnefeld, N, Nuno, A, Bal, P, Earle, S, Watson J.E.M. and Rhodes J.R (2015) Being smart about SMART environmental targets. Science, 347 6226: 1075-1076. doi:10.1126/science.aaa1451

Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2015). Mixture models for overdispersed data. In Gordon A. Fox, Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich and Vinicio J. Sosa (Ed.), Ecological statistics: contemporary theory and application (pp. 284-308) Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199672547.001.0001


Mitchell, Matthew G. E., Suarez-Castro, Andres F., Martinez-Harms, Maria, Maron, Martine, McAlpine, Clive, Gaston, Kevin J., Johansen, Kasper and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2015) Reframing landscape fragmentation's effects on ecosystem services. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 30 4: 190-198. doi:10.1016/j.tree.2015.01.011


Maron, Martine, Rhodes, Jonathan R. and Gibbons, Philip (2013) Calculating the benefit of conservation actions.Conservation Letters, 6 5: 359-367. doi:10.1111/conl.12007


Mantyka-pringle, Chrystal S., Martin, Tara G. and Rhodes, Jonathan R. (2012) Interactions between climate and habitat loss effects on biodiversity: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Global Change Biology, 18 4: 1239-1252. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02593.x

Rhodes, Jonathan R., Ng, Chooi Fei, de Villiers, Deidré L., Preece, Harriet J., McAlpine, Clive A. and Possingham, Hugh P. (2011) Using integrated population modelling to quantify the implications of multiple threatening processes for a rapidly declining population. Biological Conservation, 144 3: 1081-1088. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2010.12.027


Rhodes, Jonathan R., Callaghan, John G., McAlpine, Clive A., de Jong, Carol, Bowen, Michiala E., Mitchell, David L., Lunney, Daniel and Possingham, Hugh P. (2008) Regional variation in habitat-occupancy thresholds: a warning for conservation planning. Journal of Applied Ecology, 45 2: 549-557. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2664.2007.01407.x


Rhodes, Jonathan R., McAlpine, Clive A., Lunney, Daniel and Possingham, Hugh P. (2005) A spatially explicit habitat selection model incorporating home range behavior. Ecology, 86 5: 1199-1205. doi:10.1890/04-0912