[MARMAM] PhD opportunities in Cetacean Ecology: Flinders University, South Australia

Guido Parra guido.parra at flinders.edu.au
Wed Apr 20 01:19:53 PDT 2011

Dear MARMAM readers,
The Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL) at the School of Biological Sciences, Flinders University (South Australia)<http://www.flinders.edu.au/science_engineering/biology/>, is currently seeking applications from highly qualified candidates for two PhD projects looking at the spatial ecology and socio-genetic structure of bottlenose dolphins in South Australia. These two projects are part of a large research program aimed at enhancing our understanding of natural populations of delphinids in South Australia and using this knowledge to improve the scientific basis behind their conservation and management.
The Projects
Project 1: Spatial Ecology of Southern Australian Bottlenose Dolphins
Supervisors: Dr. Guido J. Parra and Dr. Luciana Möller.
This PhD project will investigate the spatial ecology of Southern Australian bottlenose dolphins: where they occur (space use) and why they are there (habitat use). Despite the importance of these fundamental questions towards ecology and conservation, our understanding of the synergistic factors shaping space use patterns in dolphins remains largely unknown. The focus of this project will be on investigating how the space use patterns of bottlenose dolphins are influenced by, or related to population density, social structure, behaviour, food availability, predation risk, and anthropogenic activities. Within the general aims of this project, the candidate will have the freedom to develop the work along the lines that interest them most. This project will involve training in a range of different areas including GIS, species distribution modelling, spatial statistical tools, and molecular ecology.
Project 2: Socio-genetic structure of Southern Australian Bottlenose Dolphins.
Supervisors: Dr. Luciana Möller and Dr. Guido J. Parra.
This PhD project will investigate the social and genetic structure of the southern Australian bottlenose dolphin. This is likely to be a new species of bottlenose dolphin endemic to the southern waters of Australia. The focus of this project will be on investigating how demographic, ecological and social factors affect group and community size, composition, dynamics and cooperative behaviours of dolphins. The project will also examine individual variation in social behaviour and personalities in dolphins.
The Working environment
The successful candidate will join a new, dynamic research group under the leadership of Dr. Luciana Möller and Dr. Guido J. Parra. The Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL) is based in the School of Biological Sciences and has strong links with researchers, elsewhere in Australia and overseas, in Animal Behaviour, Molecular Ecology, and Spatial Modelling. The group is committed to providing excellence in research that contributes to both pure and applied questions. Our work aims to provide impartial, independent and innovative science that contributes to integrated marine resource management. The lab is very well equipped for marine mammal fieldwork, including all necessary equipment for obtaining behavioural and ecological data from boat-based and aerial-based fieldwork, access to a large rigid hull inflatable vessel for inshore and offshore work, 4WD vehicles, and to a state-of-the-art DNA lab.
The School of Biological Sciences is an integrated research community comprised by an interdisciplinary team of researchers. Currently, our community consists of 30-some faculty, 70 PhD students, 25 MSc students, 40 research associates, assistants and technical staff, and 25 visiting and honorary staff. Our department is enriched by collaborations with over four dozen local, state and Commonwealth government agencies as well as national and overseas organisations. These connections help us keep up to date and relevant in the rapidly changing world of science. The scientific questions explored span a wide range including collaborative research in Biodiversity and Ecology, Marine Biology and Aquaculture, and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology.
At Flinders University students have access to world-class library and computing facilities and are immersed in a vibrant research environment. The School of Biological Sciences offers an active seminar series, frequent visits from prominent international scientists and an active social scene. The school offers a special training scheme for graduate students, offering a variety of modules and workshops to improve skills in scientific writing, statistics, communication, collaboration, time management, peer review, public engagement and other academic development skills.
General Requirements for the Two PhD Positions:
As both projects consists of inter-related components and will be conducted over the same study area, the successful candidates will be expected to be able to work independently but also in close collaboration with each other and a team of interdisciplinary researchers. Applicants must enjoy working in a team and be willing to work with and lead small groups of volunteers.
Successful candidates will be team-orientated, self-motivated, independent, enthusiastic, hard-working, organized and have strong communication and people skills. The ability to work relatively unsupervised, plan work, achieve results and demonstrate commitment will be looked upon favourably in the selection process.
Specific Requirements for the Two PhD Positions:

 *   A bachelor's degree (first-class honours) or graduate (MSc) degree in biology, marine biology, ecology, animal behaviour, conservation or a related field is required. A Master's degree is preferable.
 *   Applicants should have at least one year of experience in collecting and processing ecological data on marine wildlife and a strong background in analytical, quantitative and statistical techniques.
 *   Proficiency in Microsoft Excel/Access and experience with GIS software is preferred (for Project 1).
 *   Previous field experience in behavioural observations and photo-identification of dolphins will be looked favourably upon.
 *   Previous lab experience with molecular techniques, including DNA extraction, PCR, and microsatellite genotyping will be looked favourably upon (for Project 2).
 *   Previous boat handling experience would be advantageous.
Application Details:
Expressions of Interest must be received no later than 15th of May 2011 and must contain the following (late documents will not be reviewed):

 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 who are familiar with your research work and work ethics
 4.  A transcript of subjects taken and grades obtained. An official transcript is not necessary - a copy is sufficient.

Interested applicants in Project # 1 should send applications to Dr. Guido J. Parra (guido.parra at flinders.edu.au<mailto:guido.parra at flinders.edu.au>). Interested applicants in Project # 2 should send applications to Dr. Luciana Möller (luciana.Moller at flinders.edu.au<mailto:luciana.Moller at flinders.edu.au>).

We aim to contact selected applicants within three weeks of receiving your information. Successful applicants will be expected to apply for an Australian Postgraduate Award Scholarship (Australian, New Zealand and Australian permanent residents) or Flinders International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (International applicants).
For scholarship information, see below:
Australian, New Zealand, and Australian permanent residents see Australian Postgraduate Awards (APAs)<http://www.flinders.edu.au/scholarships-system/main-display-scholarship-details.cfm?scholarship_id=44> and Faculty of Science and Engineering Research Awards (FSERA)<http://www.flinders.edu.au/scholarships-system/main-display-scholarship-details.cfm?scholarship_id=120>: Closing Date: 31-10-2011.
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)<http://www.flinders.edu.au/scholarships-system/main-display-scholarship-details.cfm?scholarship_id=136>. Closing Date: 31-10-2011.

International student (citizen of any overseas country, except New Zealand) applications for scholarships see: International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS).<http://www.flinders.edu.au/scholarships-system/main-display-scholarship-details.cfm?scholarship_id=114> Closing Date: 31-08-2011
All the best,
Guido and Luciana
Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL)
School of Biological Sciences
Flinders University
GPO Box 2100 Adelaide, SA 5001 Australia


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