Personal details

Professor Stuart Parsons
Head of School, Biology and Environmental Science
Science and Engineering Faculty,
School of Biology & Environmental Science
Discipline *
Zoology, Ecological Applications, Other Biological Sciences
+61 7 3138 8324
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PhD (University of Otago)

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Lab Web Page:


Animal Behaviour, Bioacoustics, Wildlife Biology, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Bats, Chiroptera, Human-Wildlife Conflict

* Field of Research code, Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC), 2008


Professor Parsons’ research is in the broad area of sensory ecology and animal behaviour, with a focus on bioacoustics. Past outputs have covered topics as diverse as auditory anatomy, biological sonar, mating systems, and habitat selection in natural and modified landscapes. Although much of his work has focused on bats, he has also worked with insects, birds and whales. Much of Prof. Parsons’ work also has a strong applied focus, using his knowledge of acoustics and quantitative methods to develop detection and classification systems for vocalising animals. Systems developed have been used by conservation organisations to track birds in the wild, and state government to detect invasive species. He has also worked with federal and local government and multinational companies on large infrastructure development projects such as dams, roads, airports and quarries. His research is international with active collaborations in Australia, Europe, USA, Central America, South Africa, Taiwan, China, and Thailand. Prof Parsons’ research is also multi-disciplinary with active collaborations with physicists (acoustic arrays), engineers (bio-engineering – measure respiration from free-flying animals) and computer scientists/bioinformaticians (acoustic informatics). Stuart’s lab web page can be found at

This information has been contributed by Professor Stuart Parsons.


Professor Parsons has a strong commitment to learning as a partnership between staff and student. Both parties share responsibility and rely on one another to achieve effective learning. He enjoys working closely with both undergraduate and postgraduate students, and believe that teaching in small groups is most effective. At undergraduate level this is challenging given the large class sizes, but he overcomes this by encouraging questions from students in class, and by making himself available after each lecture and by appointment at other times He also offers tutorials to all my classes and encourage active participation. Students are encouraged to think about biology in terms of proximate mechanisms and ultimate cause, with a focus on understanding rather than fact-based learning. Prof. Parsons uses assessment mechanism that emphasise this approach such as writing synopses of scientific papers, class debates, semester essays and marks for participation in class discussion. He views postgraduate research students as “partners in science” where student and supervisor are colleagues. As the supervisor he has oversight of the project and provides a mentoring role, while students retain ownership of their project. This approach produces self-reliant, confident and extremely competent science graduates.

Outcomes for Prof. Parsons’ students are excellent, with many quickly finding work with environmental consultancies, government research agencies (e.g. New Zealand Department of Conservation, CSIRO) and universities.

This information has been contributed by Professor Stuart Parsons.