Gracie Liu

Key Info

  • Position Title
    PhD Candidate, UNSW Sydney & Australian Museum, Research Assistant and FrogID Validator
  • Section
    Herpetology Collection
    Division
    Australian Museum Research Institute

I am a FrogID validator and a PhD candidate at UNSW and the Australian Museum with a particular interest in amphibian and reptile biology, ecology and applied conservation.

Before joining the herpetology team at the Australian Museum, I completed a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) at UNSW. During my undergraduate, I forayed briefly into the world of fruit flies before joining the Schwanz lab at UNSW, where I spent countless hours tending to a colony of jacky dragons (Amphibolurus muricatus). Fascinated by this Australian lizard, I spent my Honours researching the link between maternal temperature, offspring traits, and corticosterone (a hormone involved in the stress response, energy regulation and immune function).

Now undertaking my PhD, my research is aimed at understanding how species respond to human habitat modification. Conversion of land from natural to modified is one of the greatest threats to global biodiversity, and as urban and agricultural areas (and supporting industries) expand at increasing rates, understanding how species respond to habitat modification is vital for effective conservation. However, this information is lacking for some of the most threatened animal groups, particularly frogs. For this reason, my research focuses on frogs and asks:

  • Why do some species decline whilst others persist in human modified environments?
  • Which species are most susceptible to decline? Which species are most in need of conservation attention?
  • What behavioural or life history traits are associated with species’ ability to persist in modified habitats?

To answer these questions, I am analysing large-scale citizen science data (gathered through FrogID) and conducting targeted fieldwork, focusing on disease susceptibility, movement patterns, and habitat use of Booroolong Frogs and Stony Creek Frogs.

In my time off, I enjoy exploring the outdoors, roaming around at night in search of wildlife, taking mediocre phone photos of said wildlife, and living vicariously through your FrogID submissions! I also can’t resist a good jigsaw puzzle – the more pieces the better!


Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) (Biological Science) (Hons Class 1, University Medal), The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia (2014 – 2017)

Publications

  • Callaghan, C.T., Liu, G., Mitchell, B.A, Poore, A.G.B, & Rowley, J.LL. (2021) Urbanization negatively impacts frog diversity at continental, regional, and local scales. Basic and Applied Ecology, 54: 64-74.
  • Liu, G, Rowley, JJL, Kingsford, RT & Callaghan CT. (2021). Species' traits drive amphibian tolerance to anthropogenic habitat modification. Global Change Biology 2021:1–13. abstract
  • Liu, G., Cain, K. & Schwanz, L. (2020). Maternal temperature, corticosterone, and body condition as mediators of maternal effects in jacky dragons (Amphibolurus muricatus). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, 93(6), 434-449. https://doi.org/10.1086/711955

Selected Awards, Grants and Scholarships

  • Best Ecosystem Science Presentation – UNSW Postgraduate Research Forum (2021)
  • Best Ecosystem Science Presentation – UNSW Postgraduate Research Forum (2020)
  • Ecological Consultants Association of NSW Conservation Grant (2020)
  • Outstanding Species Focused Presentation – UNSW Postgraduate Research Forum (2019)
  • Oatley Flora and Fauna Conservation Society Research Grant (2019)
  • The University Medal for Biology (2017)
  • Australasian Evolution Society Conference Student Travel Grant (2017)
  • Alton & Neryda Fancourt Chapple Biological Science Honours Award (2017)
  • Evolution & Ecology Research Centre Outstanding Ecology (Undergraduate) Student of the Year (2016)
  • UNSW Science Achiever Award (2014)