Mark Cowan
Curtin University

Mark Cowan Mark Cowan

Senior Research Fellow, NESP Resilient Landscapes Hub, Curtin University.

See Mark Cowan’s full research profile here.



Mr Mark Cowan is one of Western Australia’s leading ecologists based at Curtin University in Perth, Western Australia. He is a highly experienced scientist with over 30 years of experience in biological survey and biodiversity conservation implementation with State, national and international experience. Mr Cowan has extensive expertise in species biology for much of Western Australia’s vertebrate fauna. His work has focused on understanding vertebrate community structure, elements of species abundance, reproductive behaviour, distributional extent, diet, home range, genetic diversity and threatening processes as an aid to their long-term management.

Mr Cowan has made a significant contribution to the design and planning of Western Australia’s conservation reserve system. His work in biological and ecological survey and analysis, and compilation of large and complex biological and environmental datasets has been influential in reserve design, land acquisition and land management for WA.

Mr Cowan has also provided training and support to a range of groups including State Government conservation staff, academics, environmental consultants and Indigenous Ranger groups in survey, fauna management, and managing collected data. Mr Cowan has developed a range of software/ data platforms/tools to further support the capture, analysis and applied management of biological and environmental information.

Mr Cowan works on research collaborations that are focused on improving knowledge resulting in applied biodiversity conservation outcomes.

Research outputs linked to policy change and decision-making

  • As a leading Western Australian ecologist, Mr Cowan has been influential in planning the Western Australian conservation reserve system. Mr Cowan has worked on the design and analysis of the Western Australian Rangelands Conservation Reserve system and has provided strategic analytic advice on biodiversity and industrial development across WA. He has provided high-level policy and technical advice on matters relating to biodiversity conservation, reserve design and land acquisition at the state and national levels.
  • Mr Cowan has made a significant contribution to understanding the State’s biodiversity through his roles as Principal Ecologist and as a Senior Research Scientist in the Biogeography Program of the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and while at the WA Museum. Linking biodiversity knowledge and understanding of ecosystems and species to inform applied land management to improve conservation outcomes has been a key focus of Mr Cowan’s career. At an international level, Mr Cowan has been invited to support biodiversity conservation initiatives and research programs in Sri Lanka and in the Amazonian Rainforest within Peru.
  • Mr Cowan has established strong links with Indigenous ranger groups to support decision-making for joint management and to assist Traditional Owners in developing programs to meet their IPA management and conservation objectives. This includes Karajarri, Martu, Bunaba, Yawuru, Ngadju and Yindjibarndi Ranger groups. The work is always a collaborative two-way process engaging traditional knowledge from Rangers with Western science approaches.


  • 2023–present: Senior Research Fellow, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Curtin University
  • 2009-2023: Senior Research Scientist, Western Australian Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions
  • 2008-2009: Principal Environmental Officer, Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority
  • 2006-2008: Principal Ecologist, Western Australian Department of Environment and Conservation
  • 2001-2006: Regional Ecologist, Western Australia Department of Conservation and Land Management
  • 1997-2001: Natural Sciences Database and GIS Administrator, Western Australian Museum
  • 1992-1997: Senior Technical Officer, Western Australian Museum

Roles on government or regional organisation committees/Scientific Representation

  • 2022-present: Traditional Owner Kimberley Island Safe Haven (iKISH) working group
  • 2020-2023: Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust Management Panel
  • 2020-present: Great Victoria Desert Biodiversity Trust Technical Advisory Panel
  • 2019-2023: Barrow Island quarantine expert panel member
  • 2019-2021: Western Australian Biodiversity Survey Information working group member
  • 2019-present: Nominated expert on fauna identification in Government Gazette.
  • 2017-present: IUCN specialist skink group member
  • 2017: IUCN reptile red list status review member
  • 2016-2022: Western Australian Gould League Council Member
  • 2015-2022: Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions Animal Ethics Committee (Category B)
  • 2012-2013: Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy working group member
  • 2009-2010: Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) National supersite biodiversity monitoring program member
  • 2007-2008: National Land and Water Resource Audit WA Biodiversity Representative
  • 2006-2009: National Reserve System Technical working group
  • 2006-2009: Interim Biogeographic Regionalisation Technical Advisory Panel
  • 2006-2008: Australian Collaborative Rangelands Information System WA Biodiversity Representative

My Projects

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