Molly Vardanega

Research interests

  • Aerial surveys of wildlife
  • Wildlife management/conservation
  • Wildlife movements and tracking
  • UAVs / drones
  • Management of pest birds


Molly joined the Vertebrate Pest Research Unit (Biosecurity and Food Safety) as a Technical Officer in February 2018. Her primary role is to assess the population sizes of 10 species of waterfowl in the Riverina region of NSW. These assessments are used to calculate the annual harvest quotas for waterfowl in NSW. In addition, she is involved with trapping and tagging waterfowl in the Riverina region. Her work contributes to our understanding of life history traits of harvested waterfowl, individual movements (using satellite trackers) and nesting success. Molly co-coordinates and participates in helicopter-based aerial surveys of waterfowl on farm dams as well as drone surveys on larger waterbodies.

Molly also collaborates with the NSW Kangaroo Management Program (Environment, Energy and Science), and participates in the annual aerial survey of kangaroos, which is used to calculate the commercial industry’s harvest quota for red kangaroos and grey kangaroos in NSW.


  • BAnSc. (Hons) – (Graduated 2017) Effects of yard, fenceline and nose-ring weaning methods on weight gain and behaviour in beef cattle (Murdoch University)

Current projects

Sustainable waterfowl hunting in NSW

Recent publications

Dundas, S., Vardanega, M., O’Brien, P., & McLeod, S. (2021). Quantifying Waterfowl Numbers: Comparison of Drone and Ground-Based Survey Methods for Surveying Waterfowl on Artificial Waterbodies. Drones5(1), 5. doi: 10.3390/drones5010005

Fields of research

  • 050103 Invasive Species Ecology
  • 060208 Terrestrial Ecology
  • 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity
  • 050211 Wildlife and Habitat Management
  • 060207 Population Ecology
  • 060201 Behavioural Ecology
  • 060801 Animal Behaviour

Australian Bureau of Statistics classifications

Keyword/phrase list of research interests

  • Aerial survey of wildlife
  • Wildlife population estimation
  • Sustainable wildlife harvest
  • Unmanned vehicle / drones
  • Satellite tracking of birds
  • Nestbox surveys
  • Native mammal surveys
  • Animal ethics

Contact details