[MARMAM] New PhD project for Australian and New Zealand applicants

Michael Noad mnoad at uq.edu.au
Thu Aug 22 22:58:35 PDT 2019

A new PhD position is available through the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Please note that this position will be supported by an Australian government scholarship and therefore only Australian and New Zealand residents are eligible to apply. Please note that applications close 20 September.
Understanding natural and anthropogenic influences on population health in the eastern Australian humpback whale population
Project description
Population studies on marine mammals, whether to assess the population-level effects of anthropogenic noise, or monitoring population recovery, requires knowledge on parameters that affect energy intake and energy use. Any natural (e.g. reduction in food availability) or anthropogenic disruptions (e.g. behavioural disturbance leading to increased energy use) may have implications for population survival and growth. This PhD project will fill a major gap in knowledge for eastern Australian humpback whale population health, energy use during migration, and fecundity.
The project has two broad aims:

1.       To develop baseline population health parameters for a healthy humpback whale population during migration, including body condition for both sexes and pregnancy rates for females.

2.       To develop a model relating reproductive status, body condition, and energy use, in migrating humpback whales with a particular emphasis on reproductive females.
Outcomes will be used to monitor changes in population health and fecundity, which are essential for predicting the future of the population. These have important conservation implications in managing the growth trajectory of the population, potential population crashes due to natural causes (the population has reached carrying capacity), and anthropogenic disturbances.
Data collection will involve sampling humpback whales from the eastern Australian population during both their northward migration towards the Great Barrier Reef calving grounds and southward migration towards the Antarctic feeding grounds. Sampling will be conducted off North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane in June/July and September/October, 2020 and 2021. Drone footage will be collected simultaneously with biopsies. Progesterone concentrations will be measured using enzyme-immunoassays (EIAs) and pregnancy status (non-pregnant, pregnant) assigned to females using lab facilities at the Moreton Bay Research Station. Body condition will be estimated by photogrammetry methods.
The scholarship
We are offering an opportunity for an excellent PhD candidate to work with Dr. Rebecca Dunlop and Associate Professor Michael Noad, co-leaders of the Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratory, based at Moreton Bay Research Station, North Stradbroke Island, at the University of Queensland (https://ceal.lab.uq.edu.au/). The candidate with apply for a UQ Graduate School Scholarship (https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/scholarships), which lasts up to 3.5 years full time. This scholarship is only available to Australian and New Zealand residents/citizens, therefore only those with eligible citizenship/visa conditions should apply.
Why work with us?
The Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Lab currently has a team of 8 PhD students, 1 honours student, and a small number of interns. As a team, we primarily focus on cetacean acoustic behaviour and the effects of anthropogenic noise, cetacean physiology, and cetacean population dynamics. This project will be primarily focused on cetacean physiology and population dynamics. We value a team-based approach, where supervisors and researchers work effectively together on various projects. We also value gender equity and cultural diversity within the lab. As part of the lab PhD programme, we offer experience in field data collection, grant and report writing, and statistical data analysis. We are also able to offer students industry placements, where we encourage and support students to gain real-world experience. Our lab would provide a challenging but impactful PhD experience and, as such, we are seeking an enthusiastic and capable student with a strong interest in undertaking scientific research in physiology and population ecology.
To be eligible, you must meet the entry requirements for a higher degree by research<https://graduate-school.uq.edu.au/uq-research-degrees>.

-          Strong interest in animal physiology

-          Experience in the scientific process; experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis and scientific writing. This could be evidenced in either a completed honours, or masters, project.

-          Ability to work independently as well as part of a team

-          Willingness to commit to CEAL and be based at MBRS
Desirable but not essential

-          Experience in lab-based work, specifically Enzyme Immunoassays

-          Experience in field work and field data collection

-          Experience working on and/or driving boats

-          Evidence of scientific outputs; conference presentations and/or published scientific papers

-          Experience in marine mammal research

How to apply

The documents required for application are:
1) a curriculum vitae inc. details of education as well as research and development activities;
2) a copy of all academic transcripts
3) a letter explaining your motivation for applying for this position
4) names and contact detail of two referees. A reference letter from each referee is also desirable

Email items 1 to 4 to r.dunlop at uq.edu.au<mailto:r.dunlop at uq.edu.au> and mnoad at uq.edu.au<mailto:mnoad at uq.edu.au> by the closing date of 20th September 2019.

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