PhD Scholarship – Starting Spring 2015


We are seeking Expressions of Interest from potential PhD candidates to work on a project investigating the conservation biology of a threatened frog – the green and golden bell frog Litoria aurea under the supervision of Professor Michael Mahony and Dr John Clulow.


The green and golden bell frog is a threatened species which has undergone considerable contraction of its range in a relatively short period of time. With the exception of one population the remaining populations are in near coastal habitats, and numerous sites are impacted by human activities.  The study site for this project is within the Kooragang Island National Park and includes a restored coastal wetland system of 75 hectares (freshwater wetlands and terrestrial habitat. The compensatory habitat was completed in late 2014 and consists of wetlands of varying shapes, size and depths within a terrestrial landscape to create a mosaic that was designed to favour the establishment of a viable population of the threatened frog. The primary objective of the PhD research project is to investigate this re-introduction program.

Two key threatening processes are known to impact on populations of the green and golden bell frog; the amphibian disease chytridiomycosis and the introduced invasive predatory fish the plague minnow. Actions have been taken in the constructed wetlands to mitigate these impacts. Understanding how effective these actions have been will be assessed by investigating selective habitat use by the frogs and the causes of mortality.  Uncoupling these key threatening processes from natural ecological processes that limit population size (e.g. habitat suitability, water quality, vegetation, nutrition) is pivotal to predicting population demography and designing further mitigating measures for future compensatory habitat development.

This project begins in the spring of 2015 (September-October):  It requires periods of frequent day and night fieldwork in spring and summer each year and lower intensity fieldwork in autumn and winter. Travel to the field site takes approximately 15 minutes from the University. Our laboratory has facilities for chytrid analysis, and we have temperature controlled cabinets and external amphibian mesocosms for experiments.

Scholarship Details

The stipend will be equivalent to an Australia Postgraduate Award. The University of Newcastle also offers additional support to postgraduate students in the form of support for attendance at national and international conferences, and for additional specific skill training that may be deemed suitable. The Scholarship is for a period of 3 years plus extension for a further half year on application.


This scholarship is available to International and Australian candidates.

Candidates require necessary qualifications for entry into a research postgraduate program  (i.e. undergraduate Science, Environmental Science or Natural Resource Management degree with honours or equivalent, or a Masters degree (e.g. Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science/Management, Biology).

Candidates should also hold a Class 1C driver’s licence.

Application procedure

If you are interested in joining the Conservation Biology Research Group at the University of Newcastle, please send an expression of interest, including your CV and the contact details of at least one academic referee to:

Contact: Professor Michael Mahony

More information about the Conservation Biology Research Group.

Closing date is 30 August 2015


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