Dr Daniel Burns

Dr Daniel Burns

BSc, University of Sydney, 1996
BApplSc (1st Class Hons) SCU, 2002
PhD SCU, 2010

Research Summary

Dan is a part-time Postdoctoral Fellow at Southern Cross University with a primary research focus on humpback whale migration and the ongoing improvement of photo-identification techniques for studying this species. He convened a workshop at SCU in December 2011 for researchers from around Australia to facilitate the development of a national humpback whale fluke catalogue, with funding from the Australian Marine Mammal Centre (AMMC). Dan was also part of the research team that conducted the first whale and dolphin survey of Palau in early 2012, and he continues to work in collaboration with Dr Eric Kniest from the University of Newcastle and Prof. Peter Harrison at SCU to develop the computerised fluke-matching system Fluke Matcher. This software was developed using several AMMC grants and the program is now freely available to download from the web page.

After completing a Bachelor of Science at the University of Sydney in 1996, Dan first became involved with whale research when working with David Paton at Cape Byron in 1998, and he spent the 2001 season as the Expedition Assistant for The Oceania Project in Hervey Bay. He came to Southern Cross University for his Honours year in 2002, achieving a grade of First Class for his study on humpback whales, and later commenced his PhD at SCU. As part of his PhD he created the Ballina Whale Research Project (BWRP), coordinating over 40 volunteers per year to assist with both land and vessel-based data collection. He is a member of the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium (SPWRC) and of the Society for Marine Mammalogy and now lives in Perth, where he also works for an environmental consulting company, Blue Planet Marine.


du Fresne, S., Burns, D., and Gates, E. (in press) An updated, annotated bibliography for Hector's (Cephalorhynchus hectori hectori) and Maui's (C. hectori maui) dolphins. DOC Research and Development Series ###. Department of Conservation, Wellington. 43 p.

Franklin, W., Franklin, T., Gibbs, N., Childerhouse, S., Garrigue, C., Constantine, R., Brooks, L., Burns, D., Paton, D., Poole, M., Hauser, N., Donoghue, M., Russell, K., Mattila, D.K., Robbins, J., Anderson, M., Olavarria, C., Jackson, J., Noad, M., Harrison, P., Baverstock, P., Leaper, R., Baker, C.S. and Clapham, P. (in press) Photo-identification confirms that humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from eastern Australia migrate past New Zealand but indicates low levels of interchange with breeding grounds of Oceania. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management.

Franklin, W., Franklin, T., Brooks, L., Gibbs, N., Childerhouse, S., Smith, F., Burns, D., Paton, D., Garrigue, C., Constantine, R., Poole, M., Hauser, N., Donoghue, M., Russell, K., Mattila, D.K., Robbins, J., Oosterman, A., Leaper, R., Harrison, P., Baker, C.S. and Clapham, P. (in press) Antarctic waters (Area V) near the Balleny Islands are a summer feeding area for some Eastern Australian (E1 breeding group) humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Journal of Cetacean Research and Management.

Burns, D., Brooks, L., Clapham, P. and Harrison, P. (2012) Between-year synchrony in migratory timing of individual humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae. Marine Mammal Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-7692.2011.00557.x.

Constantine, R., Jackson, J., Steel, D., Baker C.S., Brooks, L., Burns, D., Clapham, P., Hauser N., Madon, B., Mattila, D., Oremus, M., Poole M., Robbins, J., Thompson, K. and Garrigue C. (2012) Abundance of humpback whales in Oceania using photo-identification and microsatellite genotyping. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 453: 249-261.

Garrigue, C., Franklin, T., Russell, K., Burns, D., Poole, M., Paton, D., Hauser, N., Oremus, M., Constantine, R., Childerhouse, S., Mattila, D., Gibbs, N., Franklin, W., Robbins, J. and Baker, C.S. (2011) First assessment of interchange of humpback whales between Oceania and the east coast of Australia. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. Special Issue 3: 269-274.

Paton D., Brooks L., Burns, D., Franklin T., Franklin W., Harrison P. and Baverstock P. (2011) Abundance of east coast Australian humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in 2005 estimated using multi-point sampling and capture-recapture analysis. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management..Special Issue 3: 253-259.

Kniest, E., Burns, D. and Harrison, P. (2010). Fluke Matcher: a computer-aided matching system for humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) flukes. Marine Mammal Science. 26(3): 744-756.

Harrison, P.L., Burns, D., Fury, C. and Luker, G. (2009) Global Conservation Status of Cetaceans. Final Report for the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. 125 pages. Reviewed by external referees Prof. Scott Baker and Dr. Bill Perrin.

Franklin, T. and Burns, D. (2005) A southern right whale (Eubalaena australis) in Hervey Bay, Qld and Ballina, N NSW. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 51(2): 308.

Manuscripts in review

Burns, D., Brooks, L., Harrison, P., Franklin, T., Franklin, W., Paton, D. and Clapham, P. (submitted) Migratory movements of individual humpback whales photographed off the eastern coast of Australia. Marine Mammal Science.

Manuscripts in preparation

Constantine, R., Allen, J., Beeman, P., Burns, D. and 23 others. (in prep) Comprehensive photo-identification matching of Antarctic Area V humpback whales.

The following papers have also been presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission

Constantine, R., Allen, J., Beeman, P., Burns, D., Charrassin, J.B., Childerhouse, S., Double, M., Ensor, P., Franklin, T., Franklin, W., Gales, N., Garrigue, C., Gates, E., Gibbs, N., Hutsel, A., Jenner, C., Jenner, M., Kaufman, G., Macie, A., Mattila, D., Oosterman, A., Paton, D., Robbins, J., Schmitt, N., Stevick, P., Tagarino, A. and Thompson, K. Comprehensive photo-identification matching of Antarctic Area V humpback whales. SC/63/SH16. Presented to the IWC SC June 2011.

Steel, D., Schmitt, N., Anderson, M., Burns, D., Childerhouse, S., Constantine, R., Franklin, T., Franklin, W., Gales, N., Garrigue, C., Gibb, N., Hauser, N., Mattila, D., Olavarria, C., Paton, D., Poole, M., Robbins, J., Ward, J., Harrison, P., Baverstock, P., Double, M. and Baker, C.S. Initial genotype matching of humpback whales from the 2010 Australia / New Zealand Antarctic Whale Expedition (Area V) to Australia and the South Pacific. SC/63/SH10. Presented to the IWC SC June 2011.

Anderson M., Steel, D., Franklin, W., Franklin, T., Paton D., Burns, D., Harrison, P., Baverstock, P.R., Garrigue C., Olavarria C., Poole M., Hauser N., Constantine, R., Thiele, D., Clapham, P., Donoghue, M. and Baker C.S. Microsatellite genotype matches of eastern Australian humpback whales to Area V feeding and breeding grounds. SC/62/SH7. Presented to the IWC SC June 2010.

Paton, D.A., Brooks, L., Burns, D., Kniest, E., Harrison, P. and Baverstock, P. Abundance estimate of Australian east coast humpback whales (Breeding Stock EI) in 2005 using multi year photo-identification data and capture-recapture analysis. SC/61/SH10. Presented to the IWC SC June 2009.

Olavarria C., Anderson M., Paton D., Burns, D., Brasseur M., Garrigue C., Hauser N., Poole M., Caballero S., Florez-Gonzalez L. and Baker C.S. Eastern Australia humpback whale genetic diversity and their relationship with Breeding Stocks D, E, F and G. SC/58/SH25. Presented to the IWC SC May 2006.