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Research Projects Available

PhD project, Western Sydney University

Thermal and dietary constraints on koala habitat and refugia

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate to undertake a 3-year research-driven PhD program in koala physiological ecology and/or remote sensing and/or bioenergetic modelling of koala food resource quality commencing in 2019. The successful candidate will be part of a broader project with common goals. Given the multidisciplinary nature of the project, we encourage applicants with interest and expertise in vertebrate nutritional ecology, physiological ecology (particularly thermal and metabolic physiology), remote sensing and/or species distribution modelling to apply. The project provides ample opportunity to develop new skills.

The scholarship on offer is part of an exciting new project ‘Understanding and mapping how thermal and dietary constraints combine to restrict koala habitat and determine refugia’ funded by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as part of their NSW Koala Strategy research program. The position will be based at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment on the Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney University, Richmond, NSW, with fieldwork at sites at locations elsewhere in NSW. D

Closing date for applications  30/9/2018

Posted September 2019


Ecophysiology at Curtin University

PhD projects:

  • Control of evaporative water loss by dasyurid marsupials: purpose, patterns and mechanisms
  • Physiology and behaviour of red-tailed phascogales in modified environments
  • Control of evaporative water loss by ecothermic animals

Honours Projects:

  • Control of evaporative water loss by dasyurid marsupials or Australian parrots
  • Behaviour and reproduction of echidnas
  • Retention of habitat trees in post-logging landscapes
  • Application of physiological studies to threatened species management

For more information contact Dr Christine Cooper

Posted October 2018


Environmental Physiology at the University of Western Australia

PhD Projects:

  • Regulation of insensible evaporative water loss in birds or mammals
    This project investigates how and why the insensible water loss of birds and mammals is regulated rather than being passively determined by ambient temperature and humidity. You will evaluate whether this capacity is an adaptation to environmental aridity or a fundamental component of the thermoregulatory control system for a range of species, either parrots or dasyurid marsupials.
  • Physiology and biophysics of gas exchange by awake and aestivating snails
    This project investigates the oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour exchange of pulmonate terrestrial snails during activity, rest and aestivation. The mantle and epiphragm of aestivating snails are critical barriers to gas exchange but the biophysics of diffusional exchange across these high resistance membrane surfaces is poorly understood, especially at the extremes of activity and metabolic depression.
  • Metabolic physiology of dormant and resting seeds
    Seeds are capable of extended metabolic depression, but there are few actual measurements of metabolic rate for resting or dormant seeds. This project investigates the metabolic rate of resting and dormant seeds, using both indirect calorimetry (oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production) and direct calorimetry (heat production).

Honours Projects:

  • Regulation of insensible evaporative water loss in a bird or mammal
  • Physiology and biophysics of gas exchange by aestivating snails
  • Allometry of metabolic physiology for resting seeds by direct calorimetry
  • Coevolution of wing loading, aspect ratio and foraging strategy for Western Australian bats
  • Phylogenetically-informed analysis of contrasting body weight patterns in carnivorous and nectarivorous marsupials

For further information, contact Professor Philip Withers, School of Biological Sciences, UWA

Posted May 2018


Opportunity for postgraduate students (Master Research or PhD) in animal physiological and evolutionary ecology at the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University


Metabolism, behaviour and environment-dependent fitness of small mammals

Research Leaders:

Dr Christopher Turbill and Dr Paul Rymer, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University

Project Description:

We seek outstanding research students to join our group and lead projects that make use our ongoing artificial selection project, well-equipped physiology and genetics laboratories and outdoor experimental facilities to determine the ecological function and evolutionary drivers of variation in the resting metabolic rate of small mammals. More information.

To Apply:

Interested applicants should send a CV, academic transcript and a brief summary of their research interests to Applications will be assessed as they are received.


Dr Christopher Turbill Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, Western Sydney University +61 (0)2 4570 1456

Posted April 2018