Dave  Forsyth

Research interests

  • Deer ecology and management
  • Wildlife management
  • Estimating abundance and density of large herbivores
  • Mouse plagues
  • Macropod ecology and management


Since gaining his PhD in 1998, David Forsyth has conducted research into the ecology and management of wildlife in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Prior to joining the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit (VPRU) in 2016, David led the Wildlife Management Program at the Victorian Government’s Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARIER).

Dr Forsyth leads deer research at the VPRU, working closely with Drs Andrew Bengsen and Sebastien Comte. David’s research projects are funded from a variety of sources including NSW DPI’s Game Licensing Unit, the Centre for Invasive Species Solutions (CISS), the Australian Research Council (ARC), the National Environmental Science Program (NESP), NSW Local Land Services, and the New Zealand Department of Conservation. These projects focus on improving our understanding of the social, environmental and economic impacts of wild deer, and identifying cost-effective solutions for managing deer and their impacts. Field work is being conducted in collaboration with local agencies in NSW, QLD, ACT, VIC, and TAS. To undertake this research David and his team are collaborating with researchers at Biosecurity Queensland, James Cook University, the University of New South Wales, University of Wollongong, the ARIER, the University of Tasmania, Biosecurity South Australia, and the Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.


  • BSc. (First Class Hons.) University of Canterbury, New Zealand (1993)
  • PhD. Lincoln University, New Zealand (1998)

Current projects

  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the suspension of deer hunting regulations in NSW (2017–2020)
  • Cost-effective management of wild deer (2017–2022)
  • Management of peri-urban deer (2017–2022)
  • Monitoring house mice for predicting plagues (2019–)
  • Protecting the Tasmanian wilderness from an expanding deer population (2019–2021)
  • Understanding population growth time lags in invasive species: Chital deer as a model system (2019–2021)

Recent publications

Roy-Dufresne, E.; Lurgi M.; Brown, S.C.; Wells, K.; Cooke, B.; Mutze, G.; Peacock, D.; Cassey, P.; Berman, D.; Brook, B.W.; Campbell, S.; Cox, T.; Daly, J.; Dunk, I.; Elsworth, P.; Fletcher, D.; Forsyth, D.M.; Hocking, G.; Kovaliski, J.; Leane, M.; Low, B.; Kennedy, M.; Matthews, J.; McPhee, S.; Mellin, C.; Mooney, T.; Moseby, K.; Read, J.; Richardson, B.J.; Schneider, K.; Schwarz, E.; Sinclair, R.; Strive, T.; Triulcio, F.; West, P.; Saltré, F.; Fordham, D.A. 2019. The Australian National Rabbit Database: 50 yr of population monitoring of an invasive species. Ecology 100(7): e02750.

Forsyth, D.M.; Ramsey, D.S.L.; Woodford, L. 2019. Estimating abundances, densities, and interspecific associations in a carnivore community. Journal of Wildlife Management 83(5): 1090–1102.

Ramsey, D.S.L.; Forsyth, D.M.; Wright, E.; McKay, M.; Westbrooke, I. 2019. Using propensity scores for causal inference in ecology: options, key considerations and a case study. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10: 320–331.

Hampton, J.O.; MacKenzie, D.I.; Forsyth, D.M. 2019. How many to sample? Statistical guidelines for monitoring animal welfare outcomes. PLoS ONE 14(1): e0211417.

Forsyth, D.M.; Latham, A.D.M.; Davis, N.E.; Caley, P.; Letnic, M.; Moloney, P.D.; Woodford, L.P.; Woolnough, A.P. 2019. Interactions between dingoes and introduced wild ungulates in Australia: concepts, evidence and predictions. Australian Mammalogy 41: 12–26.

Hampton, J.O.; Finch, N.A.; Watter, K.; Amos, M.; Pople, T.; Moriarty, A.; Jacotine, A.; Panther, D.; McGhie, C.; Davies, C.; Mitchell, J.; Forsyth, D.M. 2019. A review of methods used to capture and restrain introduced wild deer in Australia. Australian Mammalogy 41: 1–11.

Doherty, T.S.; Davis, N.E.; Dickman, C.R.; Forsyth, D.M.; Letnic, M.; Nimmo, D.G.; Palmer, R.; Ritchie, E.G.; Benshemesh, J.; Edwards, G.; Lawrence, J.; Lumsden, L.; Pascoe, C.; Sharp, A.; Stokeld, D.; Myers, C.; Story, G.; Story, P.; Triggs, B.; Venosta, M.; Wysong, M.; Newsome, T.M. 2019. Continental patterns in the diet of a top predator: Australia’s dingo. Mammal Review 49: 31–44.

Jessop, T.S.; Ariefiandy, A.; Purwandana, D.; Imansyah, M.J.; Ciofi, C.; Imansyah, J.; Jackson Benu, Y.; Fordham, D.A.; Forsyth, D.M.; Mulder, R.A.; Phillips, B.L. 2018. Exploring mechanisms and origins of reduced dispersal in island Komodo dragons. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B 285: 20181829.

Scroggie, M.P.; Forsyth, D.M.; McPhee, S.R.; Matthews, J.; Stuart, I.G.; Stamation, K.A.; Lindeman, M.; Ramsey, D.S.L. 2018. Invasive prey controlling invasive predators? European rabbit abundance does not determine red fox population dynamics. Journal of Applied Ecology 55: 2621–2631.

Forsyth, D.M.; Perry, M.; Moloney, P.; McKay, M.; Gormley, A.M.; Warburton, B.; Sweetapple, P.; Dewhurst, R. 2018. Calibrating brushtail possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) occupancy and abundance index estimates from leg-hold traps, wax tags and chew cards in the Department of Conservation’s Biodiversity and Monitoring Reporting System. New Zealand Journal of Ecology 42: 179–191.

Forsyth, D.M.; Ramsey, D.S.L.; Perry, M.; McKay, M.; Wright, E.F. 2018. Control history, longitude and multiple abiotic and biotic variables predict the abundances of invasive brushtail possums in New Zealand forests. Biological Invasions 20: 2209–2225.

Forsyth, D.M.; Caley, P.; Davis, N.E.; Latham, A.D.M.; Woolnough, A.P.; Woodford, L.P.; Stamation, K.A.; Moloney, P.D.; Pascoe, C. 2018. Functional responses of an apex predator and a mesopredator to an invading ungulate: dingoes, red foxes and sambar deer in south-east Australia. Austral Ecology 43(4): 375–385.

Letnic, M.; Feit, A.; Forsyth, D.M. 2018. Strength of a trophic cascade between an apex predator, mammalian herbivore and grasses in a desert ecosystem does not vary with temporal fluctuations in primary productivity. Ecosystems 21: 153-165.

Ramsey, D.S.L.; Forsyth, D.M.; Veltman, C.J.; Richardson, S.J.; Allen, R.B.; Allen, W.J.; Barker, R.J.; Bellingham, P.J.; Jacobson, C.L.; Nicol, S.J.; Robertson, A.W.; Todd, C.R. 2017. A management experiment reveals the difficulty of altering seedling growth and palatable plant biomass by culling invasive deer. Wildlife Research 44: 623−636.

Hampton, J.; Edwards, G.; Cowled, B.; Forsyth, D.M.; Perry, A.; Miller, C.; Adams, P.; Hyndman, T.; Collins, T. 2017. Assessment of animal welfare for helicopter shooting of feral horses. Wildlife Research 44: 97−105.

Cruz, J.; Thomson, T.; Parkes, J.P.; Gruner, I.; Forsyth, D.M. 2017. Long-term impacts of an introduced ungulate in native grasslands: Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus) in New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Biological Invasions 19: 339−349.

Davis, N.E.; Bennett, A.; Forsyth, D.M.; Bowman, D.M.J.S.; Wood, S.W.; Lefroy, E.C.; Woolnough, A.P.; West, P.; Hampton, J.O.; Johnson, C.N. 2016. A systematic review of the impacts and management of introduced deer (Family: Cervidae) in Australia. Wildlife Research 43: 515–532.

ORCID ID:             

Scopus Author ID:        7103224675

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Professional associations and activities

  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Centre for Ecosystem Sciences, UNSW (2018–)
  • Senior Honorary Fellow, Faculty of Science, The University of Melbourne (2007–)

Fields of research

  • 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
  • 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
  • 050206 Environmental Monitoring
  • 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • 060208 Terrestrial Ecology

Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification (ANZSRC)

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
  • 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
  • 050206 Environmental Monitoring
  • 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • 060208 Terrestrial Ecology

Contact details