PhD Research Scholarship: Movement Ecology of Western Australia's Black Cockatoos

Two exceptional PhD candidates will earn scholarships to research Western Australia's three threatened species of black cockatoos. Joining an established team of field researchers who have studied black cockatoos for over a decade, these students will contribute to crucial studies on species movement and habitat to further our understanding of how climate change, habitat loss and development, and disease have impacted cockatoo health and range. This field research will also provide much-needed data for the development of conservation strategies addressing National Recovery Plans for these species.

Date published: 2020/02/21

The Projects

Two (2) MUSP PhD Scholarships ($28,082 pa.) are available for outstanding students to study the movement and health ecology of the three species of black cockatoo in Western Australia.

Western Australia’s three endemic black cockatoo species, Carnaby’s cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus latirostris), Baudin’s cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus baudinii) and forest red-tailed black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii naso) are threatened and receive special protection as Matters of National Environmental Significance (MNES) under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999). Threats to species survivorship for these black cockatoos are well documented, and include habitat loss and modification, urban and industrial expansion, disease, displacement by competing species, and climate shifts. Despite significant research to date, key information required to address National Recovery Plans for these species remains outstanding. The projects will use telemetry, energetics and ecotoxicology methods to further characterise movement and habitat use of all three species across the Perth-Peel Coastal Plain, the south-west forest region of Western Australia, and key breeding sites (Carnaby’s cockatoo only). The candidates will enter an established team that has been working in the field of black cockatoo health and ecology research in Western Australia for over ten years. Since 2015, our team has deployed 84 tags generating GPS/PTT and accelerometer data and more than 33,000km of movement tracks. Both projects include a significant amount of fieldwork, in addition to data curation, lab work, advanced statistical analysis using R and GIS applications, report and manuscript preparation, and public outreach.

The two available research projects are:

Project 1: Movement ecology and energetics of black cockatoos.

Project 2: Movement ecology of black cockatoos including ecotoxicology studies.

Scholarship Details

Funding body: Main Roads Western Australia

Study level: PhD

Value (including stipends, expenses and top-ups): $28,082 pa

Duration and start date: Scholarships are provided for 3 years, with a six-month extension available based on good progress.

Preferred start date: May 1st 2020

Application Criteria         

To apply, you must have:

  • An Honours degree (H2A or H1), or equivalent.
  • A current drivers license, preferably with 4WD experience.
  • A strong interest in applied conservation ecology. Previous avian research will be highly regarded but is not a requirement.
  • Experience in the field of movement ecology/ecotoxicology, or a strong statement of motivation explaining your interest in this area.
  • Advanced statistical and database skills, preferably in R.
  • Experience with Geographic Information Systems and vector based graphics packages.
  • Demonstrated ability to work efficiently, and to meet objectives and strict deadlines.
  • A willingness to spend extended periods in the field in remote locations (required).
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required.
  • Willingness to apply for additional funding to support conference travel.

To apply, students must submit the following:

  • A covering email stating your motivation to apply for the position, and clearly stating which project you are interested in (max. 250 words).
  • A written response detailing how your skills and experience meet the selection criteria (1-3 pages).
  • A current resume or Curriculum Vitae detailing you education qualifications, relevant work experience, and the names and current contact details of three (3) referees.
  • A list of any publications you have authored (please append to your CV).
  • Two examples of your written work (e.g. Journal Paper, pdf copy of your Honours/Masters thesis).
  • An academic transcript including final marks for your Honours/Masters thesis.

Email applications to Jill Shephard at [email protected].

Apply by 15 March 2020 for consideration.

For additional information about the projects, email Jill Shephard or Kristin Warren.

Murdoch University's research scholarship details can be found here.

Want to talk with other postgrads and recent graduates who are just getting started in conservation? Join the discussion in our Early Career group!

Continue the discussion… Early Career