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Investigating the role of macroalgae as nursery habitat for coral reef fishes PHD Scholarship

Project: When larval fishes return to the reef many settle amongst the branches of live coral. However, recent research has shown that macroalgae, or seaweeds, canal so support diverse communities of juvenile fishes that often move into coral-dominated habitats as they grow. At present, the role of macroalgae as a nursery habitat remains poorly understood, limiting our understanding of its ecosystem role. This PhD project will seek to determine the importance and drivers of macroalgae as habitat for juvenile coral reef fishes and how this compares to the role of live corals. It will examine what types of macroalgae juvenile reef fishes associate with, when and why they do so, and the broader ecological implications.

Eligibility: Competitive applicants will have advanced training in evolution and ecology and demonstrated research experience in benthic and behavioural ecology or a related field. The candidate should be willing to undertake marine field work and have a keen interest in coral reef fishes and sea scape ecology.  A willingness to SCUBA dive and spend extended periods working remotely is required.

Location: Successful applicants will be based at the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, Perth under the primary supervision of Dr Thomas Wernberg and co supervised by Dr Rohan Brooker and Dr Chris Fulton  (Australian Institute of Marine Science).

This project is part of the Reef Song Project, co-funded by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and BHP as part of the Coral Reef Resilience Initiative (ACRRI). ACRRI brings together novel research from two World Heritage sites, Ningaloo, and the Great Barrier Reef, to develop the knowledge, skills and tools required to deliver innovative solutions for the management and sustainability of Australia's coral reefs. Reef Song will explore the role of fishes in promoting resilient coral reefs, improve our understanding of reef recovery and adaptation, and develop new interventions that support reef restoration. These PhD Projects are three year positions and are supported by a generous annual stipend and research budget and combine field and laboratory based research.

Payment type
Fortnightly Stipend
Value unit
Per annum
Basis of award
Academic Achievement

Equivalency to an Australian Master Degree or Bachelor Honours Degree must be completed.

Australian Citizen, Australian Permanent Resident, International
Study area
Marine Sciences
Commencement date
Applications open
Applications close
Tenable At
University of Western Australia
Currently available
Application status