[MARMAM] PhD student required - University of Auckland, New Zealand

Rochelle Constantine r.constantine at auckland.ac.nz
Mon Oct 1 12:13:13 PDT 2012


Beate Schuler Doctoral Scholarship in Marine Science


Research Project:

Hauraki Gulf Megafauna: Uncovering the Abundance, Role & Distribution of Bryde's Whales

Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni) are found in northern New Zealand waters year-round but their primary habitat is the Hauraki Gulf. They are listed as nationally critical in NZ waters due to their small population size and mortality from vessel-strike. Little is known about Bryde's whale ecology in this region. Aerial and boat-based surveys have documented whales foraging both in, and away from, large multi-species prey aggregations but nothing is known about what drives their distribution in this dynamic ecosystem. We have initiated a research project to understand the population size of Bryde's whales and their role within the Hauraki Gulf ecosystem.
Specifically we aim to conduct aerial surveys to: 1) determine an abundance estimate for Bryde's whales in the Hauraki Gulf using distance sampling methodology that accounts for environmental heterogeneity; 2) locate and quantify biological aggregations (i.e., whales, dolphins, birds, sharks and prey) to determine patch dynamics within the gulf; 3) create predictive habitat models of whale distribution based on environmental variability and the distribution of prey aggregations.

The research will be led by Dr Rochelle Constantine, School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland; Dr Leigh Torres, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), Wellington; Assoc. Prof. Rachel Fewster, Department of Statistics, University of Auckland and Dr Cameron Walker, School of Engineering, University of Auckland.


We require a motivated, hard-working student with excellent spoken and written English and an excellent academic record. Skills in ArcGIS, MATLAB and/or experience with distance sampling methods are preferred. The successful candidate will be based at the University of Auckland, New Zealand for the 3-year duration of the project. The research is planned to start in March 2013.

As you will see on the website, there are two scholarships on offer from a total of eight projects. The best candidates will be chosen and their preferred project will receive the scholarship.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at: r.constantine at auckland.ac.nz<mailto:r.constantine at auckland.ac.nz>

All the best

Rochelle Constantine

Rochelle Constantine, PhD
Senior Lecturer
School of Biological Sciences
University of Auckland
Private Bag 92019
New Zealand

++64-9-373 7599 x85093

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