ASSAB 2014 Conference

July 1-4, 2014, Carrington Hotel, Katoomba, NSW

Plenary Speakers: Dr Ximena Nelson, Dr Sarah Pryke, Prof Eric Warrant

Public Lecture: Prof. Lesley Hughes

See conference page for more details



Delegates at ASSAB 2013, University of Auckland, NZ



Faculty Positions

Postdoctoral position in birdsong physiology and acoustics, Indiana University

A postdoctoral fellowship is available at Indiana University for a qualified applicant interested in the production of complex, learned vocalizations, using birdsong as a model system. We are studying the mechanisms of avian song production, including physiological and behavioral experiments on the role of auditory and somatosensory feedback in the motor control of the syrinx (vocal organ) and suprasyringeal vocal tract (http://www.indiana.edu/~songbird/). Excellent research facilities are available including cineradiography and expertise in recording respiratory, syringeal and upper vocal tract dynamics from freely behaving, spontaneously singing birds. Indiana University has excellent interdisciplinary programs for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior and for Neuroscience, as well as outstanding faculty in speech, hearing and linguistics. The postdoctoral appointment will remain open until June 1 or until a well-qualified candidate is found. If you are interested, please send your Curriculum Vitae, including a brief statement of your research interests, to Rod Suthers at suthers@indiana.edu, voice: 812-855-8353; fax: 812-855-4436. Please also include the names, phone numbers and email addresses of three people who are willing to provide letters of recommendation if requested to do so. Indiana University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.


Graduate Positions

PhD opportunity, Social Structure of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, University of Queensland

I am looking for a PhD student to continue a long-term study of aspects of the social structure of female eastern grey kangaroos at Sundown National Park in Queensland.  We have been collecting monthly data on association patterns, reproductive events and other things on over 200 females since the start of 2010.  The student would be expected to spend about 12 days at the field site each month for about 2½ years, together with one or two other project members.  They would have considerable freedom to design the details of their PhD and would have access to our long-term data.  The next deadline for PhD scholarship applications at the University of Queensland will be in mid-May, so I hope to select a student well before then.  I would like a student to start by September or October this year.

For information on the population and some of our findings to date see the following papers:

Best, E. C., R. G. Dwyer, J. M. Seddon and A. W. Goldizen.  2014.  Associations are more strongly correlated with space use than kinship in female eastern grey kangaroos.  Anim. Behav. 89:1-10

Best, E. C., J. M. Seddon, R. G. Dwyer and A. W. Goldizen.  2013.  Social preference influences female community structure in a population of wild eastern grey kangaroos.  Anim. Behav. 83:1031-1040.

Best, E. C., J. Joseph and A. W. Goldizen.  2013.  Causes and patterns of geophagy at natural licks in an Australian marsupial.  J. Mammal.94:1237-1247.

Please send expressions of interest to: Anne Goldizen, School of Biological Sciences. University of Queensland. Email: a.goldizen@uq.edu.au


PhD opportunity, The function of female ornamentation in lovely fairy-wrens, University of Melbourne

An exciting PhD opportunity is available to investigate the function of elaborate female song and plumage in a cooperatively breeding bird, the lovely fairy-wren (Malurus amabilis). The student will be based in the Evolution and Behaviour Group in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne and supervised by A/Prof Raoul Mulder and Dr Michelle Hall, with fieldwork carried out in Cairns in north-eastern Australia.

Darwin’s theory of sexual selection has been remarkably successful in explaining how elaborate signals evolved in male animals, but whether similar processes drive the evolution of female signals remains controversial. This project will test competing hypotheses for the evolution of sexual differences by investigating selection on male and female plumage and song ornaments in the lovely fairy-wren.  In contrast to most of the other species in this iconic genus, female lovely fairy-wrens have brilliantly colourful plumage, but they have never previously been systematically studied.

The student will work on a recently-established colour-banded population of lovely fairy-wrens in Cairns Australia, combining observational data with field, experimental, molecular and comparative approaches to improve our understanding of female ornamentation in the Maluridae and birds more generally.

Applicants will need to have an extremely competitive academic record and obtain an Australian Postgraduate Award or International Research and Fee Remission Scholarships (for details and scholarship application forms see http://services.unimelb.edu.au/scholarships/research). The main application deadlines for these scholarships are 31 August (International) and 31 October (Domestic).

Interested students with excellent grades that are competitive for a scholarship (average score of >80%) are invited to email their CV, details of two academic referees, academic transcript, and a letter describing their research interests to Raoul Mulder (r.mulderATunimelb.edu.au) and Michelle Hall (hall.mATunimelb.edu.au).


PhD opportunity, Social Organization of Giraffes, University of Queensland

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

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

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



Volunteer field assistants

None at this moment



Upcoming Conferences

2014. July 13-18. IUSSI 2014 –  International Union for the Study of Social Insects, Cairns, Australia.

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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