Faculty of Science

Fish diets and river flows in northern Australia

This project will examine the influence of river flows on the variation in the diets of freshwater fish in tropical rivers.

  1. Summary of the project
  2. Eligibility criteria
  3. Readings
  4. Contact the research team leader
  5. How to apply
  6. Scholarships

Summary of the project

Northern Australia’s rivers are among the most pristine and productive on earth; but, they face major changes due to human activity including as altered river flows and climate change. Little is known about the key life history and ecological requirements of most of the fish that rely on these river systems. This makes it difficult to assess and manage the risks to fish populations and fisheries from human activities.

Our previous research in northern Australia has identified the importance of maintaining natural rivers to support healthy fish populations.  Emerging evidence suggests that variation in aspects of life history, such as diet, may help fish respond to changing environments.

We have commenced an exciting new ARC Linkage project “Forecasting fish resilience to environmental change in northern Australia”. The project is a partnership between the Northern Territory Government and four Universities: CDU, UWA, Griffith University and the University of Washington (USA) and will investigate how a range of life history traits vary in relation to river flows. This PhD project will form an important component of this larger project and will use stable isotope analysis to examine the variation in the diets of freshwater fish and how these are influenced by river flows. The student will be based at UWA but fieldwork will be undertaken across river systems in the Northern Territory.

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Eligibility criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirement specific to this project:

  • Willingness to undertake fieldwork in remote river systems the Northern Territory (as part of a larger team).

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Contact the research team leader

Once you have ensured that you meet the eligibility criteria and are ready to discuss a proposal, contact the research team leader to identify a potential supervisor.
Research team leader: Professor Michael Douglas
My research focuses on the ecology and management of tropical ecosystems. This includes the effects of fire, weed and water management on freshwater and savanna ecosystems. I have worked on tropical rivers, floodplains and riparian zones and have studied aquatic invertebrate, fish, and plant communities and the ecosystem processes that connect them, particularly food webs.

This project will be co-supervised by three of Australia's leading fish ecologists: Associate Professor Mark Kennard (Griffith University), Associate Professor Alison King (Charles Darwin University) and Associate Professor Brad Pusey (Charles Darwin University).

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How to apply

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader you should be in a position to proceed to step two of the UWA application process: 'Lodge an application'.

Different procedures apply to domestic and international students.

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Scholarships specific to this project

The School of Earth and Environment at UWA, through the ARC Linkage Grant, offers a top-up scholarship for a PhD candidate who is successful in obtaining and APA scholarship to investigate this important topic.

The top-up scholarship provides for a stipend (in addition to the APA scholarship) of $10,000 per annum for 3 years, plus there is significant additional financial support for project costs. Contact the research team for details.

Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to Australian applicants for study in participating countries and regions.

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

The Australian Government's Endeavour Awards and Scholarships are available to international applicants from participating countries and regions.

Indigenous students

Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.

Forrest Foundation scholarships

All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.

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