Delegates at ASSAB 2014 conference, Katoomba

Delegates at ASSAB 2014 conference, Katoomba


2014 ASSAB Student Grants Announced



Faculty Positions

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Zoology/Ecology, James Cook University, Townsville [December 5, 2014]

Ref. No. 14283 – Townsville

The College of Marine and Environmental Sciences has an enviable international research reputation, and is a leading Australian University in the ISI field of Ecology and Environment. We are seeking to appoint a Lecturer in the Terrestrial Ecosystems and Climate change group, to contribute to and complement our current teaching and research profile. The appointee will have a strong interest in teaching and research in the tropics. He/she will have demonstrated experience and success in tertiary teaching, student supervision and research. The appointee will be required to teach in appropriate areas of zoology, ecology and/or quantitative biology, including their area of special expertise. Preference may be given to applicants with interests in one or more of the following: terrestrial vertebrate ecology, ornithology, mammalogy, wildlife biology, plant-animal interactions, conservation, quantitative methods, and/or terrestrial invertebrate biology.

The Terrestrial Ecosystems and Climate change group is one of the top disciplines in James Cook University for winning competitive research grants, and belongs to JCU’s flagship research College. JCU is an excellent base for research in tropical zoology and ecology because: it has excellent infrastructure; there is ready access to a wide array of environments (rainforest, savannah, streams, wetlands, mountains and islands); there is a rich intellectual environment in the region, including CSIRO (on campus), Wet Tropics Management Authority, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, several government departments and successful cognate disciplines of JCU; and it has the all the attributes of a western-style university in a safe political and healthy environment.

Employment Type: Appointment will be full-time on a continuing basis.

Salary: Lecturer – Academic Level B – $84,700 – $99,942 per annum; Senior Lecturer – Academic Level C – $102,988 – $118,228 per annum. Level of appointment and commencing salary will be in accordance with qualifications and experience. Benefits include a generous superannuation scheme with 17% employer contributions, five weeks annual recreation leave, flexible working arrangements and attractive options for salary packaging.

Applications close on 11 January 2015.

Applications must be lodged electronically using the online facility located at http://www.jcu.edu.au/jobs/

Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology, James Cook University, Townsville [December 5, 2014]

Ref. No. 14282 – Townsville

The College of Marine and Environmental Sciences is a recognised world leader in coral reef research. We are seeking to appoint a Lecturer in the Discipline of Marine Biology, within the Marine Ecosystems and Impacts Group, to complement our current teaching and research profile. The appointee will have a strong interest in teaching and research focussed on marine invertebrate biology and ecology in the tropics. He/she will have demonstrated experience and success in tertiary teaching, graduate student supervision and research. This is a joint research and teaching appointment, and the appointee will be required to teach undergraduate and postgraduate subjects in marine biology, ecology, and/or quantitative biology. Preference may be given to applicants with interests in coral biology and ecology, and/or marine invertebrate biology.

The Marine Ecosystems and Impacts group of the top research disciplines in James Cook University, and belongs to JCU’s flagship research College. JCU provides an excellent base for research on coral reefs because it has excellent infrastructure including aquarium facilities and high-performance computing facilities, and has ready access to a wide array of marine environments within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. JCU has a rich intellectual environment including as the administering organisation for the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, together with internal Centres that have an aquatic/maritime focus.  Further, the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and several government departments are all located within the region.

Employment Type: Appointment will be full-time on a continuing basis.

Salary: Lecturer – Academic Level B – $84,700 – $99,942 per annum; Senior Lecturer – Academic Level C – $102,988 – $118,228 per annum. Level of appointment and commencing salary will be in accordance with qualifications and experience. Benefits include a generous superannuation scheme with 17% employer contributions, five weeks annual recreation leave, flexible working arrangements and attractive options for salary packaging.

Applications close on 11 January 2015.

Applications must be lodged electronically using the online facility located at http://www.jcu.edu.au/jobs/



Graduate Positions

PhD Scholarship in Primate behavioural EcologyUniversity of Western Australia, Perth [January 19, 2015]

A qualified PhD student is sought to carry out a fieldwork-based observational study in the field of primate behavioural ecology under the principal supervision of Associate Professor Cyril C. Grueter at The University of Western Australia (UWA). The project aims to shed light on the social organisation of a supergroup of Angolan colobus monkeys in Rwanda. The group numbers 500+ individuals, one of the largest primate groups ever recorded. Very little is known about the ecological preconditions (resource abundance and distribution) that allow these primates to live in such extremely large groups and nothing is known about how these supergroups are internally structured. Our field research is designed to fill this knowledge gap. There is also room for slight modifications in the nature of the project, e.g. examining the effects of forest fragmentation on social grouping patterns. Data will be collected using group scans and focal animal sampling to determine social relationships and proximity patterns. Vegetation sampling/phenological data collection will be undertaken to characterise abundance, distribution and seasonality of food resources. Due to superficial similarities with human multilevel societies, this project also has implications for an understanding of human social evolution. 

The specific areas of expertise of the applicant are open but should fit into the general theme. Topics of interest include primatology, biological anthropology, and behavioural ecology. Competitive applicants will hold a M.Sc. or Honours in zoology, (biological) anthropology or related fields and have a strong interest in animal behaviour. General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website (http://www.studyat.uwa.edu.au). Demonstrated scientific creativity and expertise working with primates and/or field experience in tropical areas and knowledge of applied statistics are a plus.

The student is expected to be scholarship competitive. Domestic students may apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) or a University Postgraduate Award (UPA) scholarship. International students may apply for an International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). Partial funding for the project is available, but the candidate is expected to seek additional funding from granting agencies for the project-related expenses. 

For enquiries, please contact Dr. Cyril C. Grueter, School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, 6009, WA, Australia; e-mail: cyril.grueter@uwa.edu.au; phone: +61 (8) 6488 8643.

PhD Scholarship in Dispersal strategies: Phenotypic plasticity and genetic adaptations within and between populations of a range expanding spider (Argiope breunnichi). University of Greifswald, Germany [January 12, 2015]

Open PhD Position, University of Greifswald, Germany:

State of the art: Global climate change often results in poleward range expansions. A new and promising model species for rapid range expansion is the orb-weaving spider Argiope bruennichi that moved from the Mediterranean region into continental climates and up to Scandinavia and Finland within less than 100 years. Consequently, its current distribution covers very different climates and environments. The rapid northward expansion of A. bruennichi was probably facilitated by admixture of formerly isolated lineages through global warming, resulting in an introgression of Asian alleles into the central European genepool. Taking advantage of the available population genetic and phylogeographic data as well as a fully sequenced genome and a solid understanding of the biology of the species, we will investigate adaptive responses in dispersal behaviour within and between populations along a latitudinal gradient. Dispersal behaviour is of crucial importance for rapid range expansion as well as for establishing populations.

Long term working hypotheses and work plan: We will investigate dispersal strategies of populations from the northern range limit (Sweden, Finland), the original range (Mediterranean), and genetically distinct island populations from the Azores to determine causes and consequences of variability in dispersal behaviour. We hypothesise that (1) populations differ in the propensity to disperse with northern range populations showing the strongest and island populations the weakest propensity, (2) behavioural plasticity is strongest in northern populations since the shorter period for growth requires immediate responses to local conditions. In breeding experiments under varied conditions, we will determine the degree of genetic and phenotypic variation. We will further test the hypotheses that (3) dispersal probability is affected by resource availability, population density (response to chemical cues), the future risk of inbreeding, and sex, that (4) dispersing phenotypes are of better condition and have higher competitive ability than philopatric phenotypes and that (5) maternal effects partly determine dispersal behaviour through selective provisioning of eggs. The project is conducted in close collaboration with Prof. J. Schneider (Univ. Hamburg, Germany), Prof. D. Bonte (Univ. Gent, Belgium) and Dr. Krehenwinkel (MPI Plön).

Thesis topic: Environmental and genetic effects on dispersal behaviour in a range expanding spider.

Requirements: Applicants should have a strong interest in the ecology of dispersal and in the genetic and environmental effects on trait variability. Experience with experimental designs and statistical analyses as well as in rearing arthropods is advantageous. The project entails field trips to localities within Europe as well as visits to partner groups.

Contact: Prof. Gabriele Uhl, Zoological Institute & Museum. Email: gabriele.uhl@uni-greifswald.de

Ph.D. Scholarship in Multivariate Evolution: Experimental evolution of multiple trait interactions under changed environments, Deakin University [January 8, 2015]

I have a Ph.D. scholarship available for a first class student starting in 2015 or 2016 at the Waurn Ponds (Centre for Integrative Ecology) campus of Deakin University. The research takes advantage of my long term experimental evolution project which investigates multivariate evolution of male colour pattern components, female colour preferences and colour vision in 12 guppy mesocosms under three different light environments. General topic: Quantitative genetics of experimental evolution of colour patterns and behaviour in guppies and its relationship to trait functions and functional interactions.

General aims: To examine the pattern, processes and causes of evolution of the G-matrix (genetic variance-covariance matrix) of multiple colour pattern components and their links to mate choice behaviour in populations which are actively evolving under different visual conditions. We are explicitly interested in the pattern and process of multivariate evolution under divergent environmental conditions. Questions include: What are the effects of correlational selection on the G-matrix? Does the form of the G-matrix influence multivariate evolution in the predicted ways? You can also investigate the causes of correlational selection, for example: Does correlational selection of colour pattern components result from their interacting effects on chromatic and luminance contrast and hence on their efficacy as visual signals? There are a lot of different possible avenues of research so long as they investigate the patterns and process of multivariate evolution; I encourage all my students to follow the lines most interesting to them provided it is practical in the 3 years of research.

If you are interested in any aspect of this, please email me. If you are interested, please email me (John A. Endler): John.Endler@deakin.edu.au

Eligibility requirements: In addition to the general PhD requirements at Deakin. You will need some experience with quantitative genetics techniques and some multivariate statistics. Experience with MATLAB or R analysis

is particularly welcome. First preference will be given to Australian citizens or permanent residents but if no appropriate candidates apply, the fellowship will be given to the best non-Australian who applies. You should be able to provide a very strong undergraduate record and letters of recommendation. Unlike other Australian scholarships, I do not expect you to have published any papers, in fact I’m highly suspicious of publication of work done as an undergraduate. However, you should definitely show your merit in your undergraduate record and letters of recommendation. These documents should also show that you are creative, original, innovative, and analytic rather than just a technician or a paper mill. Stipend: Standard APA rate ($25,849 in 2015) with standard conditions in regards to extensions and other allowances.

Dates and details: The closing date for applications is 1 July 2015; and the successful applicant should start no later than February or March 2016, sooner if possible. For more information on any aspect of the scholarship, please email me: John.Endler@deakin.edu.au. For information about the Centre for Integrative ecology, see http://cie-deakin.com/

PhD scholarship: Conservation genomics: predicting the adaptive potential of the endangered New Zealand hihi (stitchbird; Notiomystis cincta), University of Auckland, NZ [December 5, 2014]
A PhD scholarship, funded by a New Zealand Marsden Fund Grant, is available with Dr Anna Santure in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand. This project is an exciting opportunity to use genomics and statistical genetics approaches to understand and predict the adaptive potential of the endangered New Zealand hihi (stitchbird; Notiomystis cincta). Determining the adaptive potential of wild populations requires that we understand the genetic basis of traits that are important for survival and reproduction in these populations. In this project, we will characterise the genetic basis of morphological and life history traits in the reintroduced Tiritiri Matangi Island population of hihi, in order to understand the potential of the species to respond to changing environmental pressures, including anthropogenic climate change. Hihi are an ideal study system because, in addition to being a wonderful example of eccentric New Zealand wildlife, a reintroduced population of birds on Tiritiri Matangi Island has been intensively monitored since introduction and we have a wealth of data on morphological and life history traits, social and genetic relationships, DNA samples and environmental variables. The project student will be responsible for helping to develop a genomic toolkit for hihi, using this toolkit to determine the genetic basis of traits in the population using genetic linkage mapping and association, and investigating genetic trade-offs between traits that may constrain the adaptive potential of the species.
We are looking for a candidate with a strong background in statistics, bioinformatics, mathematics, computer programming or similar, as well as a passion for genetics, ecology and conservation biology.

The PhD position requires the applicant to be eligible for admission to the PhD programme at the University of Auckland (here) ; please note the English language proficiency requirements). Candidates should ideally have a GPA of 7 or above; international students are welcome to apply.

This project is a collaboration with Drs Patricia Brekke and John Ewen at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, see http://www.hihiconservation.com. To apply for this position, please email Dr Anna Santure (a.santure@auckland.ac.nz) with your cv, names and details of two referees, your academic transcript, and a short statement of interest. I welcome informal enquiries.

The PhD scholarship is available from 1 March 2015 and covers tuition fees and provides an annual tax free allowance of NZD$25,000 for three years.

The closing date is 16 January 2015.


Potential PhD project, University of Tasmania, Australia [October 11, 2014]

Applications are currently being received for a 2015 commencement

For more information please contact Prof Elissa Cameron (Elissa.Cameron@utas.edu.au) &/or Assoc Prof Erik Wapstra (Erik.Wapstra@utas.edu.au) at the School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania.

The study of parental effects is a fundamental area in evolutionary ecology, but is characterised by poor integration of proximate causation and ultimate explanation. Parents influence the development of their young through both genetic and non-genetic effects, with sex allocation one maternal effect that can have profound implications for fitness. In mammals, the glucose hypothesis has been postulated to link the adaptive hypotheses of sex ratio adjustment and unify other proposed mechanisms. This PhD project will investigate the role of glucose as a unifying mechanism in sex allocation theory and the practical applications of skewing sex ratios for conservation purposes in mammals.


PhD opportunity: Chemistry and function of fruit fly pheromones, Macquarie University, Sydney [July 22, 2014]

Expressions of interest are sought for a PhD opportunity to study composition and/or function of pheromones used for communication by Bactrocera fruit flies.  

Bactrocera fruit flies – a genus of more than 500 species – include some of the world’s most devastating insect pests of horticulture. Air-borne pheromones are used by these insects to communicate, and in synthetic form also have potential as tools for control. Depending on the candidate’s interests, research emphasis may be comparative, describing and comparing pheromones used by different species, or may be functional, with more detailed analysis of pheromone composition, synthesis and biological activity.  The general skills developed in this research area would be readily transferable to other research questions later and so provide a good general training. 

This project will be supported in the Departments of Chemical and Biomolecular Sciences (www.cbms.mq.edu.au; Dr Ian Jamie, A/Prof Joanne Jamie, and Dr Soo Park) and Biological Sciences (www.bio.mq.edu.au; A/Prof Phil Taylor) at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and may also involve collaboration with Deakin University (Dr Matt Symonds) and Plant & Food Research, New Zealand (Dr Max Suckling and Dr Ashraf El-Sayed). 

Several scholarship options are available, depending on nationality. For example, suitable candidates would be encouraged to apply for a Macquarie University Research Excellence Scholarship (MQRES) of AU$25,392 pa (tax exempt, increased annually to index cost of living). Students on scholarships are not obliged to contribute to teaching, but may do so to supplement their income if desired. Generous funding is available for research expenses and for travel to domestic and international conferences.

Applicants should have completed research qualifications equivalent to a Masters or Australian Honours degree, and should first contact Dr Ian Jamie (Ian.Jamie@mq.edu.au) or A/Prof Phil Taylor (Phil.Taylor@mq.edu.au) with an expression of interest, including a CV and academic record.



Field Assistants Positions

none available at the moment


Upcoming Conferences

2015. August 9-14. Behaviour 2015 - 34th International Ethological Conference. Cairns Convention Centre, Queensland, Australia

2016. March 29 – April 3. International Congress of Neuroethology, Uruguay

2016. August. 8th World Congress of Herpetology, Hangzhou, China

2016. September 25-30. International Congress of Entomology, Orlando, Florida, USA

2018. International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Guarujá, Brazil.



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