Fauna Australis


Cristián Bonacic

Jerry Laker

David Macdonald

Laboratorio Fauna Australis de Conservación de Vida Silvestre

Fauna Australis Wildlife Conservation Research Laboratory

Vicuñas en el Salar de Surire (año 1996)
vicu walking

El Laboratorio Fauna Australis fue creado en Marzo del año 2001 a partir de la experiencia de Cristián Bonacic como miembro de WildCRU (The Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, Oxford). La inspiración y enseñanzas del Professor David Macdonald, nos motivaron a replicar la idea de un grupo especializado en la ciencia de la conservación para buscar soluciones prácticas a los problemas que afectan a la biodiversidad.

Desde su inicio se nombró a David Macdonald como el Director Honorario de nuestro grupo y nos ha acompañado y colaborado desde ese tiempo hasta la actualidad.

Fauna Australis is a leading research group for applied conservation sciences led by Professor Cristian Bonacic under the Natural Resources Graduate Programme of the Department of Ecosystems & The Environment (School of Agriculture and Forestry, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – PUC); one of the most recommended universities throughout Chile.

Fauna Australis aims to conduct applied research on the conservation of wildlife in the southern cone of South America. A multidisciplinary research team, including agronomists, biologists, forestry engineers, geographers and veterinarians are addressing research on the current challenges of biodiversity conservation faced with global change. Former and current works contribute to the following main areas: ecology and vulnerability of endangered fauna, sustainable use of wild camelids, distribution and impacts of invasive fauna, productivity and ecology of Agro-ecosystems, resolution of conservation conflicts, and socioecological studies in Aymaras, Quechuas and Mapuche communities in the Andes. Recently socioecological studies and the effect of fire and feral domestic animals have become quite relevant and we are working hard to produce science based recommendations to society.


Fauna Australis wildlife laboratory


Professor Cristián Bonacic DVM. MSc. DPhil.

Department of Ecosystems & The Environment

School of Agriculture & Forestry Sciences


Field-station Director (Kod Kod Araucanía)

Jerry Laker. BSc Agr. MSc ecology

Education & Conservation, Sustainability, Eco-tourism, Wildlife Conservation

Equipo de investigadores (Research team)

  • Ana Muñoz (BSc, MSc). Laboratory coordinator.
  • José Infante (Agr, MSc). Associate researcher.
  • Omar Ohrens (Agr, MSc, PhD Wisconsin). Associate researcher.
  • Andre Rubio (Vet, MSc, PhD UNAM). Assistant professor. School of Veterinary Sciences. Universidad de Chile
  • Alejandra Muñoz (BSc Agr, MSc, PhD candidate). Assistant professor (adjunct). Ungulates conservation, sustainable Agriculture, ecology.
  • Nicolás Gálvez (BSc, Agr, Msc, PhD).  Assistant professor. Carnivores, conflict resolution, conservation biology.
  • Tomás Ibarra (BSc. Agr, MSc Conservation, MSc Ethnobiology, PhD). Assistant professor.  PhD Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Ethnobiology.
  • Tomás Altamirano (BSc For, PhD). Postdoctorate UBC & Associate researcher. Bird ecology and forestry conservation.
  • Juan David Amaya. Assistant professor. Universidad Javeriana. Colombia.
  • Omar Siguas. Assistant professor. Universidad de Huancavelica. Perú.
  • Graduate students 2019: Cony Arevalo (BA Cornell), Mariangela Paratori (BSc Forestry, U de Chile), Mauricio Cifuentes (Forerstry student), Skarleth Chinchilla (Foreign student).


About the Director

Dr. Cristian Bonacic, DVM. M.Sc. DPhil in Zoology (Wolfson college, Oxford University).

Professor, wildlife scientist and lecturer in wildlife conservation at the School of Agriculture and Forestry Science of the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. Director of Fauna Australis.

Head of the Environmental Science Diploma and of the MSc in Conservation and Wildlife Management. Member of the Wildlife Trust Alliance and associate researcher of the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU, Oxford) & Macaulay Land Use Research (Darwin Initiative project). Adjunct researcher of CERC, Columbia University. In 2007 received a Whitley Commnendation for his work in innovation for conservation science from HRH Princess Royal at the Royal Geographical Society of London.

“For the last 28 years, I have conducted research, teaching, leaded international ad national conservation projects, organised workshops, fieldwork and activities with local communities in several countries. My research interests includes sustainable use of wildlife, conflict resolution between people and wildlife, business and biodiversity, global change and biodiversity and  applied animal welfare to wildlife conservation and control.

Most of my projects are based in the altiplano, Atacama desert, Mediterranean ecosystem of central Chile, Temperate rainforests and Patagonia. But I also commit myself to report to decision makers nationally and internationally (IUCN, US Fish and Wildlife Service, European Union, The UK, Argentina, Bolivia and particularly in Chile).

My academic career combines teaching and research in applied conservation issues, conservation medicine, animal welfare and conflicts between people and wildlife. I also leaded for 10 years a minor in Environmental science  in our University. In 2005, we launched the first MSc programme in Conservation and Wildlife Management within a programme of Natural Resources. This is a 2 year graduate course that aims to prepare a multidisciplinary research team that works in flora, fauna, conservation and protected areas management. My duties as head of the programme include lecturing, field expeditions, supervision of thesis and fundraising for the projects and students”. I created the Department of Ecosystems & The Environment and a new undergraduate major in environmental management as head of Department in 2010.  I am actively engage in long term projects as member of the center for local development, center for the Atacama desert and University boards related to natural resources and the environment (Qualitas UC, COPEC-UC Foundation for Natural Resources, Project Saint Francis)”

Dr Bonacic was awarded his professorship at The Pontifical Catholic University in 2015 and soon after began his sabbatical sponsored as visiting professor by The Tinker Foundation in The Nelson Institute at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, USA.

Professor Bonacic was awarded a prize for his contribution to Veterinary Sciences by the Association of Chilean Veterinarians in 2017.

Between March 2016 and March 2018 was the director of the Department of Ecosystems & The Environment at Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

Projects sponsorship:

Ministries of Agriculture, The Environment, Education and Economy of Chile. European Union, UK Government, German Government, US funds and international and national NGOs.