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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

Katharina Peters

Research Interests

I am a behavioural ecologist with a particular fascination for marine mammals. My research interests lie at the interface of animal behaviour and distribution, population ecology and evolutionary biology and how to apply this information to better manage the conservation of wild populations and their associated environments. Addressing these questions requires quantitative and interdisciplinary approaches. Thus, I use an integrative approach involving field-intensive ecological and behavioural work coupled with ecological modelling and molecular analyses.

Academic record

2012 – 2016 PhD (Behavioural Ecology), Flinders University, South Australia. Dissertation: Unravelling the dynamics of hybridization and its implications for ecology and conservation of Darwin’s tree finches>

2010 BScHons (Bachelor of Science with Honours in Marine Biology – First Class) – Flinders University, South Australia. Thesis: Effects of boat-based dolphin tourism on the behaviour and group structure of bottlenose dolphins in South Australia

2006 – 2009 BSc (Bachelor of Biological Sciences) - University of Osnabrück, Germany

Research Bio

Since 2018, I have been affiliated with the >Cetacean Ecology Research Group at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand, first as an Australia Awards/Endeavour Research fellow, then as a postdoctoral fellow and topic coordinator for 196.327 Marine Mammalogy in 2020, and since 2021 as research associate. My research at Massey focuses on foraging ecology and distribution of several species of toothed whales using stable isotope analyses and species distribution models.

During 2019 I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University, associated with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage. My research here used ecological modelling and the fossil record to elucidate palaeo-species abundances and extinction dynamics, as well as developing matrix-based population models to better understand the population development of koalas in the Mt Lofty Ranges. I remain affiliated with the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University, where I hold adjunct academic status.
Since March 2021 I am a postdoctoral researcher with the Evolutionary Genetics Group at the University of Zürich. My project focuses on reproductive success in bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay.


15. Peters KJ & Stockin KA (2021). Cetacean sighting records in the New Caledonia Basin, Tasman Sea, New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research.1-15.

14. Peters KJ, Bury SJ, Betty EL, Parra GJ, Tezanos Pinto G, Stockin KA (2020). Foraging ecology of the common dolphin Delphinus delphis revealed by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 652:173-186.

13. Common LK, O’Connor JA, Dudaniec RY, Peters KJ, Kleindorfer S (2020). Evidence for rapid downward fecundity selection in an ectoparasite (Philornis downsi) with earlier host mortality in Darwin’s finches. Journal of Evolutionary Biology33:524-533.>

12. Peters KJ, Saltré F, Friedrich T, Jacobs Z, Wood R, McDowell MC, Ulm S, Bradshaw CJA (2019). FosSahul 2.0, an updated database for the Late Quaternary fossil records of Sahul. Scientific Data 6 (272).

11. Saltré F, Chadoeuf J, Peters KJ, Friedrich T, McDowell, MC, Timmermann A, Ulm S, Bradshaw CJA (2019). Climate-human interaction associated with southeast Australian megafauna-extinction patterns. Nature Communications 10:5311. 10.1038/s41467-019-13277-0

10. Shabani F, Ahmadi M, Peters KJ, Haberle S, Champreux A, Saltré F, Bradshaw CJA (2019). Climate-driven shifts in the distribution of koala browse species from the Last Interglacial to the near future. Ecography42:1587-1599.

9. Kleindorfer S, Custance G, Peters KJ, Sulloway FJ (2019). Introduced parasite changes host phenotype, mating signal and hybridisation risk: Philornis downsi effects on Darwin’s finch song. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286:1904.

8. Bilgmann K, Parra GJ, Holmes L, Peters KJ, Jonsen ID, Möller LM (2019). Abundance estimates and habitat preferences of bottlenose dolphins reveal the importance of two gulfs in South Australia. Scientific Reports 9:8044.

7. Peters KJ, Evans C, Aguirre JD, Kleindorfer S (2019). Genetic admixture predicts parasite intensity: evidence for increased hybrid performance in Darwin’s tree finches. Royal Society Open Science 6 (4): 181616.

6.Peters KJ & Kleindorfer S (2018). Avian population trends in Scalesia forest on Floreana Island (2004-2013): Acoustical surveys cannot detect hybrids of Darwin's Tree Finches (Camarhynchus spp.). Bird Conservation International 28: 319-335.

5.Peters KJ, Myers S, Dudaniec RY, O’Connor JA, Kleindorfer S (2017). Females drive asymmetrical introgressive hybridization from rare to common species in Darwin’s tree finches. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 30 (11): 1940-1952.

4. Kleindorfer S, Peters KJ, Hohl L, Sulloway F (2016). Flight behavior of an introduced parasite affects its Galapagos Island hosts: Philornis downsi and Darwin’s finches. In: Biological Invasions and Animal Behavior (Eds. J. Weis and D. Sol), Cambridge University Press, pp. 158-179.

3.Peters KJ & Kleindorfer S (2015). Divergent foraging behavior in a hybrid zone: Darwin’s tree finches (Camarhynchus spp.) on Floreana Island. Current Zoology 61 (1): 181–190.

2. Kleindorfer S, Peters KJ, Custance G, Dudaniec RY, O’Connor JA (2014). Changes in Philornis infestation behavior threaten Darwin’s finch survival. Current Zoology 60 (4): 542–550.

1. Peters KJ, Parra GJ, Skuza PP, Möller LM (2013). Effects of boat based tourism on the behavior, response and group structure of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins. Marine Mammal Science 29 (4): E484–E497. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12003

Weiterführende Informationen

Dr. Katharina Peters

Katharina Peters