South Australian Museum Staff
- Senior Researcher, Mammals
BiographyDr Catherine Kemper did her undergraduate studies in Canada and PhD at Macquarie University, Sydney. The first 20 years of her zoology career were devoted to researching small mammal ecology and life history, a topic that lead her to field work in Malaysia and many parts of Australia.
In the mid 1980s a major change in research interests resulted in studying marine mammals, particularly cetaceans (whales and dolphins). The South Australian Museum had at that time a small but important collection of marine mammal specimens and under her direction the collection has grown from about 320 to over 1600 specimens.
The basis of Catherine's marine mammal research is the specimen collection: skeletons, preserved organs, stomach contents, parasites, frozen tissues for toxic contaminant and genetic studies, and accompanying data. Collaboration with students and scientists in other fields (e.g. toxicology, forensic science, pathology, genetics) is key to the success of the programme, which is considered the best in Australia.
The overarching aim of Catherine's research is to contribute to the conservation of terrestrial and marine mammal species, and many projects involve data that will assist wildlife management. For example, a study of dolphins that died from entanglement in finfish aquaculture cages resulted in farm methods that reduced entanglement rates.
Catherine has also studied the distribution and abundance of live cetaceans and a database of sightings of is held at the Museum. She is a committee member of the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation.
Although most recent research focuses on marine mammals, Catherine maintains an active interest in all mammal species and is presently writing a field guide to South Australian mammals.
Major Publications: (Top 5)
Bannister, J.L., Kemper, C.M. and Warneke, R.M. 1996. 'The Action Plan for Australian Cetaceans'. Wildlife Australia Endangered Species Program project number 380. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Canberra.
Kemper, C.M, and Gibbs, S.E. 2001. Dolphin interactions with tuna feedlots at Port Lincoln, South Australia and recommendations for minimising entanglements. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 3: 283-292.
Kemper, C.M., Pemberton, D., Cawthorn, M., Heinrich, S., Mann, J., Wursig, B., Shaughnessy, P. and Gales, R. 2003. Aquaculture and marine mammals: Co-existence or Conflict? Pp. 209–225 in N. Gales, M. Hindell, & R. Kirkwood (eds) 'Marine Mammals: Fisheries, Tourism and Management Issues'. CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
Kemper, C.M. 2004. Osteological variation and taxonomic affinities of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops spp., from South Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology 52: 29-48.
Kemper, C. 2006. An overview of recent marine mammal research in Australia. In Tomida et al. (eds) Proceedings of the 7th and 8th Symposia on Collection Building and Natural History Studies in Asia and the Pacific Rim. National Science Museum Monographs 34: 279–288