Dogs for

our Environment



Canine Ecological assists resource managers in making informed decisions about individual species and ecological systems. We do this by eliminating uncertainty, using alternative, highly effective methods of data collection, monitoring and analysis.

We use scent detection dogs to conduct surveys for species of interest, providing natural resource managers with the confidence that other survey methods cannot. Ask us about our data analysis and management recommendation services in addition to data collection services.



Our goal is simple, we aim to provide data, collected using an innovative, low impact, highly effective method to enhance conservation outcomes for the people we work with. We support you through project design, monitoring, interpretation and evaluation, meaning you can focus on the big picture of your work.

Innovative environmental surveys, utilising dogs for better species detection, data collection and analysis.

Our team encompasses a variety of scientific research backgrounds, animal training expertise and ecological monitoring experience.


Naomi hodgens co-founder

Naomi received a Bachelor of Applied Science from the University of Queensland in 2008, with double majors in Wildlife Biology and Conservation and Park Management. Due to her special interest in animal behaviour, particularly canine behaviour, Naomi began investigating the possibilities of utilising dogs in wildlife conservation. In 2012, Naomi completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training. Naomi completed her Honours degree at the La Trobe University, Anthrozoology research group in 2017, where her research explored the effects of different training models on the dog-human relationship. Thanks to her 16 years’ experience working as a veterinary nurse, Naomi also has an extensive understanding and skills to promote the best possible health and welfare practises for all canine members of the team. Naomi combines these broad skills to provide Canine Ecological’s training and deployment programs.

Luna.4 snip.PNG

natalie calatayud co-founder

Natalie Calatayud is a non-native addition to the Australian landscape. Originally from Mexico City, Natalie earned her bachelor’s degree in Zoology from the University of Manchester in the UK and then moved to Australia to obtain her doctorate in Reproductive Physiology and Molecular Biology of marsupials at the University of Melbourne.

Her career interests have since taken a different direction and she now focuses on reproduction, endocrinology, and nutrition in amphibians and more recently, her experience has expanded to include the recovery and reintroduction of endangered frogs. She has recently returned to Australia having completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research (ICR).

While Natalie’s projects have concentrated on reproduction in the past, her work requires a broader understanding of various aspects of amphibian physiology, ecology, responses to environmental change, and disease. In 2016, Natalie founded a conservation canine detection team at (ICR), the Amphibian Research K9 team (ARK9). The program began with one dog, Luna, who was trained to detect the very cryptic and highly endangered, Mountain Yellow-legged frog, Rana muscosa.  Two years on, Natalie has joined Nick and Naomi to continue her commitment to broadening the use of dogs for conservation.


nick rutter co-founder

Nick has been involved in various environmental projects for a number of years, including regular involvement in revegetation projects and bird nest box instillation and monitoring programs. He developed an interest in canine perception while completing a Bachelor of Psychology with honours in 2015 at La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria. In 2017, Nick commenced his PhD at the La Trobe Bendigo Anthrozoology Research Group Dog Lab where he merged his interests in conservation and canine science through his research involving the development and evaluation of a volunteer-based model of conservation detection dog training and deployment. Utilising his applied research and practical handling skills, Nick is committed to furthering broader understandings of the ways in which dogs and humans can work together to assist conservation efforts and help protect our environment.