Delegates at ASSAB 2014 conference, Katoomba

Delegates at ASSAB 2014 conference, Katoomba



Faculty Positions

Research Fellow, Insect Nutrition, Macquarie University, Sydney [July 25, 2014]

The Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University is seeking to appoint a talented postdoctoral researcher to work on the Horticulture Australia Ltd R&D Project HG13045 entitled “Larval diets for high-productivity mass-rearing of Queensland fruit fly for SIT”.

Application deadline: August 17, 2014, 11:59 pm EST (Sydney)
To apply and for more details go here


Postdoctoral position, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore [July 22 2014]

We are looking for a post-doctoral fellow interested in exploration of sexual selection in jumping spiders. The qualified individual will support research project on the origin and evolution of male UV colour and UV-based female mate-choice in jumping spiders. The candidate will work under Dr. Daiqin Li (http://www.dbs.nus.edu.sg/staff/lidaiqin.htm) and with a close collaboration with NUS and international partner research labs.

The position is funded by a grant from the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE) Academic Research Fund (AcRF) Tier 2, and will cover salaries, insurance and research costs. Position is for 1-2 years, and possibly for 1 year extension, starting in August/September 2014.

The successful applicant must have completed a Ph.D. in life sciences or a related discipline, with a proven ability for outstanding research that is reflected in a publication record, and a strong interest in spider behaviour/evolutionary biology. Experience in the field, and in visual ecology, behaviour, evolutionary biology, molecular phylogeny would be helpful.

Interested applicants should send a detailed CV, along with a list of publications, and at least three letters of recommendation preferably via email (dbslidq@nus.edu.sg) to Dr. Daiqin Li, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, 14 Science Drive 4, Singapore, 117543.


Department Head and Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Tennessee. Knoxville [July 19, 2014]

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (http://eeb.bio.utk.edu) at the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville is seeking a senior colleague for the position of Professor and Head. The new Head will guide the growth of the department and help us to build on existing strengths in mathematical biology, macroevolution, ecological genetics, behavior, and global change ecology. We seek a candidate with a strong record of excellence in research and teaching, a history of effective leadership, and a vision of how to foster the continued progression of the program into one of the top EEB departments in the nation. The successful candidate will be able to manage administrative duties while maintaining an active research program.

The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is a dynamic and collaborative group of 21 faculty and over 50 graduate students. Our department maintains a field station in the nearby Smoky Mountains, close ties to nearby Oak Ridge National Lab, and synergy with the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (http://NIMBioS.org). Knoxville is also an exciting town that has undergone a vibrant civic revitalization over the past several years, yet it remains one of the most affordable cities in the US and the region has been rated as one of the best in the country for eventual retirement. The University of Tennessee welcomes dual-career couples and pursues family-friendly policies. The Knoxville campus of the University of Tennessee is seeking candidates who have the ability and enthusiasm to contribute in meaningful ways to the diversity and intercultural goals of the University. The Head position is open to individuals who are qualified to be appointed at the full professor level with tenure at the University of Tennessee.

To apply, please send the following in a single pdf-formatted document to mander16@utk.edu: (1) a cover letter that includes a vision statement for the head’s leadership role in the intellectual growth of our department, (2) a statement of teaching philosophy/experience, (3) a statement of current and near future research interests, (4) names and contact information for five referees, (5) a CV. Review of applications will begin on Sept. 1, 2014 and will continue until the position is filled. Potential applicants may also contact Search Committee Chair Prof. Hanno H. Weitering (hanno@utk.edu) or Prof. Susan E. Riechert (sriecher@utk.edu) with questions; more information about our Department, including our current strategic plan, is available at http://eeb.bio.utk.edu/headsearch .

Apply here.



Graduate Positions

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.


PhD opportunity in community ecology of inshore dolphins in Western Australia, Flinders University [July 20, 2014]

The Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL) at the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University (South Australia), is currently seeking applications from highly qualified candidates for a PhD project looking at interspecific interactions between sympatric inshore dolphins in Western Australia. This project is part of a collaborative research program between CEBEL and Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (MUCRU) which is aimed at enhancing our understanding of natural populations of inshore dolphins off the North West Cape, Exmouth, Western Australia and using this knowledge to improve the scientific basis behind their conservation and management.

The PhD position will be available pending final approval of funding for the project and the selected student gaining a PhD scholarship.

The Project: Interspecific interactions among delphinids: chance or biological significance?

Supervisory team: Dr. Guido J. Parra (Flinders University), Associate Professor Lars Bejder and Mr Simon Allen (Murdoch University).

Many species of dolphins coexist and form mixed species associations, but little is known about the interspecific interactions among them and how these may influence the structure and function of ecological communities. Preliminary observations off the North West Cape in Western Australia indicate that Australian humpback (Sousa sp.) and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) frequently interact and occur in mixed species associations. This project will focus on investigating the biological significance of these interspecific interactions and mixed species associations by using an integrative approach involving behavioural observations, mark-recapture data and ecological modelling.

Specific Requirements for the PhD Position:

  • Applicants should have at least a first or upper second class Honours degree in an appropriate subject, such as ecology, animal behaviour, marine biology, biology, oceanography, or a related field. A relevant MSc or MRes qualification in some aspect of quantitative biology is preferable.
  • Applicants should have at least one year of experience in collecting and processing ecological data and a strong background in analytical, quantitative and statistical techniques.
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Excel/Access and familiarity with computer packages such as R, Matlab and ArcGIS will be advantageous.
  • Previous field experience including boat handling, behavioural observations and photo-identification of dolphins will be looked upon favourably.
  • Applicants must be willing to relocate to Exmouth, Western Australia, for periods of up to 6 months while doing fieldwork.
  • An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) Certificate of Competency as a Coxswain or the willingness to obtain this will be advantageous.

Application Details: Interested applicants should send expression of interest to Dr. Guido J. Parra (guido.parra@flinders.edu.au) no later than 1st of August 2014 (late documents will not be reviewed) containing:

  1. A letter of intent specifying your interest in the specific Ph.D. Project
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Two letters of reference, from professors or research supervisors familiar with your research work and work ethics. An email from the referee is sufficient.
  4. A transcript of subjects taken and grades obtained. An official transcript is not necessary – a copy is sufficient.

We aim to contact shortlisted candidates by 4th August. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship (Australian, New Zealand and Australian permanent residents) or Flinders International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (International applicants). Applicants should familiarise themselves with the documentation needed for scholarship application so that they are prepared to meet application deadlines.

For scholarship information, see below:

International student (citizen of any overseas country, except New Zealand) applications for scholarships see: International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). Closing Date: 15-08-2014

Australian, New Zealand, and Australian permanent residents see Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs) and Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Awards (FSERA): Closing Date: 31-10-2014.

Australian, New Zealand, Australian permanent residents or international students who have completed an honours or equivalent qualification at Flinders University no more than three years prior to the application closing date see: Flinders University Research Scholarships (FURS). Closing Date: 31-10-2014.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me: Research Leader, Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL), School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University, Sturt Road, Bedford Park|South Australia|5042. GPO Box 2100|Adelaide| South Australia|5001.

Lab website: www.cebel.org.au  My Flinders Staff Page; Phone: (+61 8) 8201-3565 | Mobile: 0437630843 | FAX: (+61 8) 8201-3015


PhD opportunity, Social Organization of Giraffes, University of Queensland [December 4, 2013]

A/Prof. Anne Goldizen, at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, is looking for a PhD student to continue a long-term study of the social organization of giraffes in the Okaukuejo area of Etosha National Park in Namibia. This population was studied first by Dr. Rachel Brand of the University of Newcastle in the UK during 2004-05, then by Dr. Kerryn Carter (then PhD student of Anne’s at UQ) in 2009/10, and has now been studied in 2013 by Anne. Thus we have data on the association patterns of this population of 500+ giraffes from three time periods over the past 10 years, with individuals recognizable across this time period. We have published two papers on the social organization of this population in Animal Behaviour (85:395-394 and 86:901-910, both in 2013). Candidates would have to have completed a prior research degree equivalent to an Australian honours degree (a full-time, 9 month research project) or a masters degree to be eligible for the UQ PhD program. Australian students would need to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and non-Australians would need to acquire a PhD scholarship from UQ or elsewhere. Research funds would also need to be sought, with Anne’s assistance.  Interested potential students should also have a drivers licence and extensive travel experience or experience working/researching in developing countries.

Email Anne Goldizen at a.goldizen@uq.edu.au if you would like more information.


PhD opportunity: Insect Symbiosis, molecular and microbial ecology, University of Western Sydney [December 4, 2013]

We are seeking a highly motivated student to develop research skills in insect symbiosis, molecular and microbial ecology. The student will be trained in the use of high throughput sequencing platforms, metagenomic and microbiome analyses and the intricacies of the sterile insect technique and plant biosecurity. This capacity is highly relevant and broad-ranging ensuring that the candidate will be highly employable and contribute significantly to Australia’s biosecurity capacity. The main objective of this project is to identify the gut symbionts associated with Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni) and related species and to exploit these microorganisms to improve the performance and quality of sterile male flies, while minimise rearing costs. Furthermore the study will contribute to the exciting research field of insect microbial ecology and physiology.

Recent studies on insects have revealed seminal contributions of microorganisms to the nutrition, health and reproductive success of their insect hosts. The sterile insect technique (SIT) is a key approach to manage Australia’s most significant horticultural pest, Queensland fruit fly (Qfly), in some of Australia’s most valuable horticultural production areas. However, there is evidence that during the mass-rearing and irradiation processes, the native microbiome of fruit flies is disrupted and thus host fitness diminished. Male sterile flies must be sexually competitive with their wild counterparts. Fitter sterile males could lead to a reduced sterile to wild ratio required to control a population, leading to increased efficiency and effectiveness of a control program and overall reduced costs. Incorporation of suitable probiotics within the larval diet could also reduce the need for expensive chemicals and yeast, two of the largest costs in mass-rearing fruit flies.

The PhD student will be enrolled at University of Western Sydney (UWS) and will work closely with Dr Olivia Reynolds and Dr Toni Chapman at the Centre of Excellence for Plant and Animal Health, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI), NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and Dr Markus Riegler at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment (UWS). A tax-free stipend of $30,000 pa and a generous operating allowance will apply. The duration of the scholarship is three and a half years (maximum). In addition there will be regular opportunities for professional development, travel, and interaction with other scientists and students within the Plant Biosecurity CRC. It is essential that applicants have an interest in plant pests threatening Australian plant biosecurity and a strong academic background in entomology, microbiology, molecular biology, ecology or agricultural science including pest management. Research experience in one or several of these areas will be desirable. The successful candidate will spend periods of their study at both UWS and EMAI.

Further information about this position and about the application process can be obtained from Dr Markus Riegler (m.riegler@uws.edu.au; 02-4570 1229).


PhD opportunity, Animal behaviour through a virtual lens, La Trobe University [October 11, 2013]

La Trobe University’s Research Focus Area, Securing Food, Water and the environment, is offering a PhD Scholarship with top-up for the following research project: Animal behaviour through a virtual lens: A new paradigm to investigate interactions between habitat, weather and sensory system function.

Animals must respond to a changing world – from transient variations caused by environmental conditions to permanently altered habitats. Environmental change, regardless of time-scale, affects the physical properties of the habitats animals occupy and the sensory information available to animals for important tasks. An important source of sensory information for many animals is image motion, yet our understanding of how a complex ‘moving world’ affects animal behaviour is limited. An interdisciplinary approach that thinks outside the box is required. This PhD project will develop such an innovative approach by combining tools from 3D animation and computer vision to determine how habitat characteristics, weather conditions and motion vision influence animal signalling. The multifaceted strategy takes knowledge and data from nature into a virtual lab. More details here.

Contact: Dr Richard Peters, Department of Zoology, La Trobe University, Bundoora VIC 3086, AUSTRALIA. web: http://richard.eriophora.com.au. Email: richard.peters@latrobe.edu.au or 

Dr Tom Chandler, Caulfield School of IT Monash University, Caulfield VIC 3145. Email: tom.chandler@monash.edu



Field assistants

Bowerbird signal function and mating success: Volunteer (unpaid) field research assistant needed October-December 2014 [July 9, 2014]

I am looking for an experienced female field worker to help my female Ph.D. student doing field work on Great Bowerbirds, approximate dates October through to mid December 2014. (Female because the field house offers little privacy). Ideally the volunteer should have extensive experience with birds. The volunteer should also know how to drive a 4WD vehicle in easy to moderate conditions (we almost never have to shift into 4WD) and not mind living in fieldwork conditions.

Duties generally involve helping to drive to bower sites, walking between bowers (up to 4km), carrying equipment and helping to check/maintain the camera equipment at bowers on a regular basis, as well as the initial set up and final taking down of the camera systems, solar panels and batteries used to run the cameras. Other duties will include sound recording, backing up video onto USB disk drives, some analysis of the video recordings collected, and helping to do two object presentation experiments.

This field work takes place on a remote cattle station (Ranch in North American parlance) in Queensland, so it is hot and dry. This will involve a fair amount of walking in these conditions so the volunteer should be reasonably fit. Transportation will be provided to/from the field station from Townsville (the nearest airport). The successful applicant will have to share a simple house with the PhD student and help with the day to day aspects of fieldwork as well as cooking and keeping the house tidy. This cattle station is full of wildlife (the owners really know how to care for the land) so expect to see lots of kangaroos, emus and bustards, among other animals. It is well into the outback so internet connections are weak and absent in some days; this is not something a city-type would enjoy.

If you are interested, please e-mail me directly, John.Endler@deakin.edu.au <mailto:John.Endler@deakin.edu.au>
John A. Endler, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University, Australia.


Pied Babbler Research Project [May 1, 2014]

Seeking a research assistant to help conduct fieldwork on the Southern Pied Babbler population, based in the Kalahari Desert, South Africa. Applicants with a BSc in biology, ecology or zoology and with an interest in behavioural ecology are preferred. The assistant will be involved in data collection, under the supervision of a PhD student and the Chief Project Investigator, Assoc Prof Mandy Ridley. Applicants should be available from August 2014, ideally until April 2015. This is negotiable but a minimum commitment of 6 months is preferred because of the amount of training required.

Work will include behavioural observations, sound recordings, GPS tracking, weighing of individuals, habituation and assistance with playback and presentation experiments.

Accommodation, food and a small stipend will be provided.

Previous fieldwork experience, especially in Africa is desirable but not essential. The work will be challenging at times and also physically demanding, with early mornings, hot temperatures and tough terrain. Fieldwork hours are typically from dawn for 4-5 hours, and  again for three hours in the late afternoon until nightfall. It is expected that you work five and a half days per week.

Applicants must hold a current driving license (4WD experience preferred) and ringing experience would be advantageous.

To apply for this position, please send a CV and a short cover letter to: elizabeth.wiley@research.uwa.edu.au

The project website with more information can be found at:



Monitoring colour-banded population of superb fairy-wrens [April 28, 2014]

We are looking for field assistants to help monitor a colour-banded population of superb fairy-wrens near Melbourne, Australia for a study on animal personalities.

Duties include regular censusing of colour-banded birds, searching for and monitoring nests, mist-netting, behavioural observations, video analysis, and data proofing. Working days are long, with early starts six days a week. Enthusiasm, self-motivation, and a strong work ethic are a must. The study is based at Serendip Sanctuary, a small reserve on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Time periods: start late August or October 2014, finish January 2015 (4-5 months, with mist-netting till end September and nest searching and monitoring Oct-Jan).

Qualifications: experience monitoring colour-banded birds, nest-searching, and mist-netting. Must also be early riser, physically fit, able to work in extreme weather conditions, and enjoy basic shared living conditions. Onsite accommodation in a house with shared dorm-style room is provided, but assistants cover travel to the site and their own food costs. The project will reimburse up to AU$500/mo towards receipted food and travel expenses.

For more information contact: Timon van Asten (t.vanastenATstudent.unimelb.edu.au). To apply, please email a letter outlining previous relevant field research experience, and a resume including names and contact information for 3 referees.



Upcoming Conferences

2014. July 28-August 2: 11th International Congress of Neuroethology, Sapporo, Japan

2014. July 31-August 5. International Society for Behavioural Ecology Conference, Hunter College, City University of New York.

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


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