Fauna Australis

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School of Agriculture & Forestry Engineering

Department of Ecosystems & The Environment


Cristian Bonacic


Professor David Macdonald, WildCRU-Oxford

Honorary director

Welcome message


Fauna Australis Wildlife Laboratory is a leading research group for applied conservation sciences led by Dr. Cristian Bonacic under the Natural Resources Programme of the Catholic University of Chile (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile – PUC); one of the most recommended universities throughout Chile. Fauna Australis was founded in 2001 by Dr. Bonacic and aims to conduct applied research on the conservation of wild endangered fauna 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 agroecosystems, resolution of conservation conflicts, and ethnobiology in Aymaras and Mapuche communities.



Professor Cristián Bonacic DVM. MSc. DPhil.

Department of Ecosystems & The Environment

School of Agriculture & Forestry Sciences


Fieldstation Director (Kod Kod Araucanía)

Jerry Laker. BSc Agr. MSc ecology

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

Research team

Ana Muñoz (BSc, MSc). Laboratory coordinator.

Research team

Alejandra Muñoz (BSc Agr, MSc). 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). PhD Conservation Biology, Ornithology, Ethnobiology.

Juliana Vianna (Bsc, MSc, PhD). Associate professor. Molecular ecology, Conservation Biology.

José Luis Riveros (MV, PhD). Assistant professor. Reproduction and South American Camelids

Tomás Altamirano (BSc For, PhD). Associate researcher. Bird ecology and forestry conservation


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 18 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.

Between 2016 and 2018 he 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 Goverment, US funds and international and national NGOs.


Arzamendia, Bonacic C, Vila B. Behavioural and physiological consequences of capture for shearing of vicunas in Argentina. Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 2010;125(3-4):163-170.

Riveros JL, Bonacic C, Schuler G, Hoffmann B, Chaves MG, Urquieta B. 2010. Ovarian follicular dynamics and hormonal secretory profile in guanacos (Lama guanicoe). Anim. Reprod. Sci. 119: 63-67.

Bonacic C, Gimpel J and Goddard. 2009. Animal Welfare and the Sustainable Use of the Vicuña. In: The Vicuña: The Theory and Practice of Community Based Wildlife Management. Gordon IJ, ed. Pp. 49-63. Springer Science. Business Media.

Sarno RJ, González BA, Bonacic C, Zapata B, O’Brien SJ, Johnson WE. 2009. Molecular genetic evidence for social group disruption of wild vicuñas Vicugna vicugna captured for wool harvest in Chile. Small Ruminant Research. 84 (1): 28-34.

Riveros JL, Urquieta B, Bonacic C, Hoffmann B, Bas F, Schuler G. 2009. Endocrine changes during pregnancy, parturition and post-partum in guanacos (Lama guanicoe). Anim. Reprod. Sci. 116(3-4):318-325.

Riveros JL, Urquieta B, Bonacic C, Bas F, Hoffmann B, Schuler G. 2008. Endocrine changes during pregnancy in the guanaco (Lama guanicoe). Reproduction in Domestic Animals. 43 (s3): 96.

Urquieta B, Araya R, Riveros JL, Bonacic C. 2008. Parturition in guanacos (Lama guanicoe) maintained in captivity: A behavioral and endocrine approach. Reproduction in Domestic Animals. 43 (s3): 96.

Riveros JL, Schuler G, Chaves M, Hoffmann B, Bonacic C, Bas F, Urquieta B. 2008. Ovarian follicular dynamics in non gestating guanacos (Lama guanicoe) in captivity. Reproduction in Domestic Animals. 43 (s1): 27.

Marín JC, Spotorno AE, González BA, Bonacic C, Wheeler JC, Casey CS, Bruford MW, Palma RE and Poulin E. 2008. Mitochondrial DNA variation and systematics of the guanaco (Lama Guanicoe, Artiodactyla: Camelidae). Journal of Mammalogy. 89:269-281.

Arzamendia Y, Maidana R, Vilá B and Bonacic C. 2008. Wild vicuñas management in Cieneguillas, Jujuy. In: South American camelids research. Volumen 2. Frank E, Antonini M and Toro O, eds. Pp. 139-146. Wageningen acadedmic publichers.

Marín J, Zapata B, González C, Bonacic C, Wheeler J, Casey C, Bruford M, Palma E, Poulin E, Alliende A y Spotorno A. 2007. Sistemática, taxonomía y domesticación de alpacas y llamas: nueva evidencia cromosómica y molecular. Rev. chil. hist. nat. 80: 121-140.

Sarno R, Villalba L, Bonacic C, González B, Zapata B, Macdonald D, O’Brien S and Johnson WE. 2004. Phylogeography and subspecies assessment of vicunas in Chile and Bolivia utilising mtDNA and microsatellite markers: implications for vicuña conservation and management. Conservation genetics. 5: 89-102.

Zapata B, Gimpel J, Bonacic C, González B, Riveros J, Ramírez A, Bas F and Macdonald D. 2004. The effect of transport on cortisol, glucose, heart rate, leukocytes and body weight in captive-reared guanacos (Lama guanicoe). Animal welfare. 13: 439-444.

Bonacic C and Macdonald D. 2003. The physiological impact of wool-harvesting procedures in vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna). Animal welfare. 12: 387-402.

Bonacic C, Macdonald D and Villouta G. 2003. Adrenocorticotrophin-induced stress response in captive vicuñas (Vicugna vicugna) in the Andes of Chile. Animal welfare. 12: 369-385.

Zapata B, Fuentes V, Bonacic C, González B, Villouta G and Bas F. 2003. Haematological and clinical biochemistry findings in captive juvenile guanacos (Lama guanicoe Müller 1776) in central Chile. Small Ruminant Research. 48: 15-21.

Bonacic C, Gimpel J and Galaz J. 2002. Current advances on research and management of the vicuna (Vicugna vicugna) in Chile. Ciencia e Invest. Agr. 27:39-50.

Bonacic C, Macdonald D, Galaz J and Sibly M. 2002. Density dependence in the camelid Vicugna vicugna: The Recovery of a protected population in Chile. Oryx. 36: 118-125.

Johnson WE, Slattery JP, Eizirik E, Kim JH, Menotti Raymond M, Bonacic C, Cambre R, Crawshaw P, Nunes A, Seuánez HN, Martins Moreira MA, Seymour KL, Simon F, Swanson W and O’Brien SJ. 1999. Disparate phylogeographic patterns of molecular genetic variation in four closely related South American small cat species. Molecular Ecology. 8: S79-S94.

Franklin WL, Bas F, Bonacic C, Cunazza C and Soto N. 1997. Management of Patagonian guanacos in the grazing agroecosystems of southern Chile. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 25: 65-73.

Bonacic C, Iriarte A and Bas F. 1996. Endangered guanaco (Lama guanicoe) population habitat use in the Andean mountains of Chile. Journal of wildlife research. 1: 85-88.Bonacic C and Gimpel J. 1995. Sustainable use of South American wild camelids: theory and practice. Newsletter of the European Fine Fibre News. 5: 23-26.

Bonacic C and Gimpel J. 1995. Guanaco farming in Southern Patagonia, Chile. Camelids Chronicle. 33: 11-14.

Bas F, Bonacic C and Soto N. 1994. Game farming potential of the guanaco (Lama guanicoe) in Chile. Journal of Animal Science. 72: 343.

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