Justin Welbergen
Western Sydney University

Professor Justin A. Welbergen

Justin Welbergen headshot

Professor of Animal Ecology, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University and President of the Australasian Bat Society.

See Professor Welbergen’s full research profile here.

E: j.welbergen@westernsydney.edu.au


Justin Welbergen is professor of animal ecology at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University. With his Lab of Animal Ecology, he works on a range of subjects in whole organism biology, focusing on the ways organisms respond adaptively to changes in their social, ecological and physical environment.

Professor Welbergen’s applied research interests are primarily in conservation and climate change biology. Here much of his work is about informing the conservation management of threatened bats and birds, about building a mechanistic understanding of the vulnerability of biodiversity to extreme weather and climate events, and about prioritising areas in the landscape for management and conservation in the context of environmental change.

Recently, Professor Welbergen has made important progress using emerging technologies, such as large-scale animal tracking, passive acoustic monitoring, and drone and radar remote sensing, for understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of populations, from local to landscape scales, to enable more effective wildlife management trans-jurisdictionally.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

Professor Welbergen’s academic work results in identifiable benefits outside of academia, particularly for conservation and management of wildlife and wildlife habitat.

At James Cook University (2011–13), he led the Gap analysis of environmental research needs in the Australian Wet Tropics. This gap analysis informed the allocation of funds under the Tropical Ecosystems Hub ($28.5 million and $33.4 million co-investment) from the National Environmental Research Programme (NERP). He also led NERP Project 7.3: Climate change and impact of extreme events on Australia’s Wet Tropics biodiversity. This project was designed to provide information and tools to allow the management agency to predict and limit the impact of extreme events on the Wet Tropics’ endemic biodiversity. While at James Cook University, he further contributed to 2 major reports from the National Climate Change Adaptation Facility: Climate change refugia for terrestrial biodiversity in Australia and Climate change adaptation strategies for Australian birds.

At Western Sydney University (2014–present), he has been running a range of research programs jointly with management agencies from various government sectors, including on the management and conservation of threatened flying-foxes, microbats, and island endemic birds (see here for details). By design, these programs directly contribute to better coordinated, evidence-based wildlife management by local and state government and other stakeholders. One concrete example of this is the online Flying-fox heat stress forecaster that he developed with collaborators from the University of Melbourne, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO, and that continues to be used throughout Australia each summer by hundreds of wildlife carers, land managers, and public health officials to cope with mass flying-fox mortality events resulting from extreme heat.

Current academic employment and positions

  • 2023–present: Professor of Animal Ecology; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University
  • 2019–22: Associate Professor; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University
  • 2014–18: Senior Lecturer; Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University
  • 2011–13: Senior Research Fellow; Centre for Tropical Biodiversity and Climate Change, James Cook University
  • 2006–10: Research Fellow; Darwin College (Cambridge, UK)
  • 2006–10: Teaching Fellow; Kings College, Newnham College, Murray-Edwards College (Cambridge, UK)
  • 2006–10: Research Associate; Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge.

Highest qualification

  • 2005: PhD, University of Cambridge.

Major prizes, medals and honours

Current roles on government or regional organisation committees

  • Chair of the Christmas Island Flying-Fox Advisory Panel
  • Deputy Chair of the WSU Animal Care and Ethics Committee
  • Member of the Wildlife Health Australia Bat Health Focus Group
  • Member of the NSW Flying-Fox Consultative Committee
  • Member of the Regional Bushfire Recovery Working Group of the grey-headed flying-fox
  • Member of the Spectacled Flying-Fox Recovery Team.

Current roles in non-government groups or networks

  • Elected President of the Australasian Bat Society (ABS)
  • Member of the ABS Flying-Fox Expert Group
  • Founding member of the Pacific Bat Conservation Network (PacBat)
  • Representative for Oceania for the Global Union of Bat Diversity Networks (GBatNet)
  • Lead organiser of the International Bat Research Conference, Cairns, 3–8 August 2025.

My projects (in addition to the below)

My Projects

Current projectCompleted project
NESP RLH, 2021-2027NESP, 2015-2021NERP, 2012-2015TRaCK, 2005-present