Can We Accurately Survey Biodiversity Using Sound Alone?

Project Information

Identifying changes to biodiversity has never been more critical in the face of climate change and ongoing threats to ecosystem functioning, yet biodiversity assessment is one of the most challenging problems for ecologists and conservation biologists worldwide. This can be particularly true in countries such as Australia, where the remoteness of many regions makes traditional biodiversity assessment through manual surveys extremely difficult. The use of acoustic recorders offers a potential solution, however the best way to use and interpret those data remains unclear.

This degree is part of a broader project investigating the use of automated acoustic recording to conduct biodiversity assessment at a continental scale. It will enhance our understanding of biodiversity change and allow better management, conservation, and use of Australian natural resources.

The project will draw on soundscapes from around Australia to form a big dataset that enables exploration of different wildlife communities. Identification of community signals including birds, frogs and insects will enable analysis of broadscale patterns in response to our changing environment. The behaviour of different communities following changes to factors such as environmental water, heat waves and natural disasters will enable us to explore ecological and computational patterns in the landscape. We are after a committed student to explore these relationships through an examination of sound and visual-based survey design.

You would suit this project if you have the following:

  • A passion and competence for computer programming
  • An interest in biological patterns, interactions and biodiversity assessment
  • A degree in computer science, quantitative ecology, or similar
  • A desire to conduct independent research
  • An Honours or Masters degree, and/or peer-reviewed publications

Scholarship Information

The University is offering an RTP Domestic Stipend Scholarship for the successful domestic candidate. This amounts to AU$28,092 per annum, tax free for up to three years to support a full-time PhD candidate. The level of the stipend will not be reduced over the period of the Scholarship.  In addition to the stipend, students will receive AU$3,500 p.a. for research support.

The Laboratory of Applied Zoology and Ecological Restoration (LAZER) and Animal Behaviour and Ecology (ABEL). The successful candidate will be working with researchers from two highly active labs that seek to understand and mitigate threats to wildlife through experimental and empirical ecology, and community engagement. Our research is important to manage our natural resources and enable ecosystem functioning in a state of continuing environmental change in the world. Our study systems occur within the New England Tablelands, Murray-Darling Basin and Papua New Guinea. You will be part of a diverse laboratory that encourages collaboration and outreach. We encourage applicants from gender diverse, LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, all backgrounds and ethnicities.

How to Apply

Applicants must meet UNE’s admission requirements for a PhD program. Please see the entry requirements. Applicants must submit a candidature application if they wish to apply for a scholarship. For more information on submitting a candidature application please see our how to apply/enrol webpage.

To apply for the scholarship please review the relevant application guidelines and complete the application form:

Applicants should include a cover letter and their CV.

Scholarship and candidature applications can be submitted through AskUNE.

General Enquiries

Enquiries may be emailed to Associate Professor Paul McDonald or Dr Deborah Bower.

Alternatively, you can visit the Laboratory of Applied Zoology and Ecological Restoration (LAZER) and/or Animal Behaviour and Ecology (ABEL).

About Armidale

In an ideal location for environmental scientists and nature lovers, the University of New England is situated in the town of Armidale on the New England Tablelands. Surrounded by wild gorges, four types of rainforest and the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin, the landscape is a naturalist’s dream. The University of New England owns several SMART farms which enable us to experimentally manipulate ecological treatments in our own back yard. Our very own Mount Duval nature reserve abuts the campus bringing echidnas, greater gliders and koalas as regular visitors.

The university boasts mountain bike tracks and prime climbing locations in close surrounds, providing the opportunity for academic studies with an adventurous twist. Country life is vibrant with regular activities at the New England Regional Art Museum, local breweries and vineyards. A French Patisserie in town provides mouth-watering crepes for the refined palette and you can warm the cockles of your heart on mulled wine at Charlies wine bar on fresh evenings. Our community is diverse and represented by an active LGBTQIA+ contingent and many multicultural backgrounds.

Opening DateClosing Date
13 March 2020Open Until Filled

Scholarship ID Code: S20/04