Marilyn Connell

Lab Associate



Marilyn Connell is from Maryborough (Qld) and has worked as Project Manager in Natural Resources in Brisbane and Tiaro (Qld) for many years, before working as Environmental Consultant near the Mary River (Qld). 

This is her story, as she likes to tell:

"In 1999, an event occurred that was to change the course of my life. I was introduced to a freshwater turtle - Elusor macrurus - by  the Masters student Samantha Flakus. Little did I realise that almost 20 years later, I would be following in her footsteps and undertaking a Masters myself. Since 2001, as part of a small rural community group in SE Queensland - Tiaro & District Landcare Group - we have operated the Mary River turtle conservation program. During this entire period, I have had the privilege of working with the community in leading the conservation and management of one of Australia's most threatened freshwater turtles. As a result, I have gained practical experience, and an understanding of freshwater turtle conservation, ecology, and community engagement. During this period, multiple postgraduate students have utilised my assistance with their field work. In 2010, I was awarded a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study community turtle conservation projects in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Brazil. It was inspiring to meet and learn from turtle conservationists and researchers from around the world. Since 2009, I have given oral presentations at three international symposiums, on six occasions. In 2014, I was convinced to immerse myself in research, and become a Research Masters student in Dr Hamish Campbell’s MLE-Lab."

Marilyn's research was focused on assessing the effectiveness of a community-driven of turtle conservation program. This has entailed establishing a standardised methodology and protocols that are effective in capturing an assemblage of Elusor macrurus (Mary River turtle) within a riverine environment (Mary River, Qld, Australia). The population estimated in her research will be a baseline against which comparative studies can detect any population trends. 

Marilyn's research was funded by a grant from the Turtle Conservation Fund and the Burnett Mary Regional Group. She was also awarded the Mary River turtle support scholarship from Tiaro & District Landcare Group.

Marilyn has recently graduated at CDU and her thesis is entitled: “Freshwater turtle assemblages of the Mary River (Queensland, Australia) with a focus on the population of the endangered Elusor macrurus”, and can be found at the CDU Library.


Published articles

  1. Connell, M.J., McDougall, A.M. and Campbell, H.A. (2018). Identifying assemblages of river turtles using a passive and systematic capture technique in the Mary River, Queensland, Australia. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 17(2): 187-196.

  2. Espinoza, T., Marshall, S., Connell, M.J., Beukeboom, R., and McDougall, A. (2018). Nesting behaviour of the endangered Mary River turtle: monitoring and modelling to inform e-flow strategies. Australian Journal of Zoology 66(1): 15-26.

  3. Schmidt, D., Espinoza, T., Connell, M.J., Hughes, J. (2017). Conservation genetics of the Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus) in natural and captive populations. Aquatic Conservation: Marine & Freshwater Ecosystems 2017: 1-9.

  4. Micheli-Campbell, M.A., Connell, M.J., Dwyer, R.G., Franklin, C.E., Fry, B., Kennard, M.J., Tao, J., and Campbell, H.A. (2017). Identifying critical habitat for freshwater turtles: integrating long-term monitoring tools to enhance conservation and management. Biodiversity Conservation 26(7), 1675-1688.

  5. Schmidt, D.J., Brockett, B., Espinoza, T., Connell, M.J., and Hughes, J. (2016). Complete mitochondrial genome of the endangered Mary River turtle (Elusor macrurus) and low mtDNA variation across the species’ range. Australian Journal of Zoology 64, 117-121.

  6. Micheli-Campbell, M.A., Campbell, H.A., Connell, M.J., Dwyer, R.G., and Franklin, C.E. (2013). Integrating telemetry with a predictive model to assess habitat preferences and juvenile survival in an endangered freshwater turtle. Freshwater Biology 58(11), 2253-2263.

  7. Micheli-Campbell, M.A., Baumgart, T., Booth, D.T., Campbell, H.A., Connell, M.J., and Franklin, C.E. (2013). Selectivity and Repeated Use of Nesting Sites in a Freshwater Turtle. Herpetologica 69 (4), 383-396.


Other publications

  1. Smith, T., Connell, M.J. (in press). Mary’s Famous Five: a story of connection, commitment and community in the recovery of threatened aquatic species in the Mary River catchment Queensland. In: Recovering Australia’s Threatened Species. CSIRO Publishing.

  2. Flakus, S., Connell, M.J. (2008). The Mary River turtle, yesterday, today, tomorrow. Tiaro & District Landcare Group, Tiaro, Queensland, Australia.

  3. Connell, M.J., Wedlock, B. (2006). Mary River turtle protection: Tiaro District of Southeast Queensland, 2006 – 2006 nesting season. Conservation technical and data report Volume 2006. Number 8. Queensland Government Environmental Protection Agency.