[MARMAM] Seeking PhD student for Burrunan dolphin acoustic ecology research
kate at marinemammal.org.au
Mon Apr 9 22:53:30 PDT 2018
The Marine Mammal Foundation (MMF, Melbourne, Victoria,
www.marinemammal.org.au) and Centre for Marine Science & Technology
(CMST, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia; html:
www.curtin.edu.au/cmst <http://www.curtin.edu.au/cmst>) are looking for
a postgraduate student to undertake research towards a Ph.D. degree in
Supervisors: Dr Kate Charlton-Robb (Marine Mammal Foundation) and Prof
Christine Erbe (CMST)
Background: The Burrunan dolphin (/Tursiops australis/) occurs as small,
genetically distinct and isolated populations in coastal areas of
southern Australia and is listed as threatened. MMF has studied the
populations in Port Phillip Bay (PPB) and Gippsland Lakes (GL),
Victoria, Australia, for over a decade. There is a photo-ID catalogue of
~120 individuals in PPB and ~100 individuals GL. In PPB, dolphins are
resident all year round; whilst the GL supports a maternal based
resident population (present year round) with >60 transient males
present in the austral winter. Dolphins rely heavily on sound production
for navigating, foraging, communicating and socialising. Sound
production is linked to behaviour, group cohesion and identification of
individuals. Noisy environments can cause behavioural changes,
displacement from high-impact areas, adjustment of sound production
rates and spectral shifts. Such disturbances can affect core biological
activities of dolphins and ultimately their health and fitness. Current
ongoing projects (incl. 2 PhD and 1 Honours) are investigating
population demographics, association patterns, behaviour, genetics,
feeding ecology, toxicology, and habitat characteristics.
PhD project: This project will focus on bioacoustics including sound
repertoire, signature whistles, linking sound production with behaviour,
using passive acoustic monitoring to document distribution, linking
sound production with the two different soundscapes in PPB and GL, and
the potential effects of boat noise. This study will provide the
acoustic angle and thus extend our previous and current research into
species/taxonomic distinction of the Burrunan dolphin, geospatial and
temporal distribution patterns, behaviour and potential disturbance by
Field work: For the coming 2 years, boat-based field work is scheduled
for 22 days every 3 months across the two locations.
Funding: All field-related costs are covered, i.e., boats, fuel,
accommodation while in the field, acoustic equipment incl. autonomous
recorders and short-term suction-cup tags.
There is NO funding for a student stipend, so the prospective student
will have to cover their own living allowance. Students are encouraged
to apply for scholarships.
This project is open to Australian, New Zealand and international
students. However, international tuition fees will have to be covered by
the student. There is no tuition liability for Australian or New Zealand
The student will enrol at Curtin University, Perth, in the School of
Earth & Planetary Science. The first few months will be spent at CMST in
Perth. The student will then be required to move to Victoria for the 2
years of field work, with occasional trips back to Perth, and ideally
return full-time to CMST in Perth for data analysis and thesis write-up.
The prospective candidate would have a BSc (Hons) or MSc degree (first
class) in a relevant discipline. The student must have prior experience
in any of the following: acoustics, maths, engineering, physics,
numerical modelling, MATLAB, or programming in R as this project
involves substantial acoustic data analysis and modelling. The following
are beneficial: experience with field research on small cetaceans, small
boat handling skills, marine mammal biology, and dolphin fin
identification. Ideal candidates will have strong oral and written
communication skills and work well in a team.
Please email your expression of interest, CV, and two academic
references to Dr Kate Charlton-Robb at kate at marinemammal.org.au or Dr
Christine Erbe at C.Erbe at curtin.edu.au by 31 May 2018.
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