Faculty of Science

Restoring and maintaining balance in our natural environment

A selection of current projects in this research theme is listed here.

We welcome you to discuss other research project ideas with us. To do this:
Domestic students can contact the Graduate Research Coordinator at the School or Centre in which you wish to undertake research.
International students can use our online enquiry form, which helps us match your research interests with a potential supervisor.

Using DNA metabarcoding to quantify plant-pollinator interactions
Plant-pollinator interactions are traditionally recorded through field-based observations, but new methods using DNA metabarcoding have been shown to detect more interactions than traditional methods.
Regulation of insensible evaporative water loss in birds and mammals
This project investigates how and why the insensible water loss (evaporative loss below thermoneutrality) of birds and mammals is regulated rather than being passively determined by ambient temperature and humidity.
Physiology and biophysics of gas exchange by aestivating snails
This project investigates the oxygen, carbon dioxide and water vapour exchange of pulmonate terrestrial snails during activity, rest and aestivation. The mantle and epiphragm of aestivating snails are critical barriers to gas exchange but the biophysics of diffusional exchange across these high resistance membrane surfaces is poorly understood.
Metabolic physiology of dormant and resting seeds
This project investigates the metabolic rate of resting and dormant seeds, using both direct calorimetry (heat production) and indirect calorimetry (oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production).
Determining nativeness: An evolutionary approach to tracing the origin of cryptogenic plants
This project investigates the geographic origin of cryptogenic plant species in Australia, through phylogenetic analysis, population genomics, and evolutionary ecology. This will inform on which populations are native or alien and help prioritise management of invasive alien species.
Seagrass adaptation and acclimation responses to extreme climatic events: genomics and gene expression
This project will focus on gene expression responses to multiple environmental stressors associated with extreme events under predicted climate change scenarios.
Environmental stress as a threatening process for the western ringtail possum
This project will investigate the role of stress on the survival and reproduction of the western ringtail possum. Given the species critically endangered status it is highly likely that populations living near busy roads or within the urban matrix experience unprecedented levels of stress.
Does personality affect western ringtail possum survival?
The western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) has an alarming high risk of extinction and there are anecdotal reports of possums “roaming around and getting in trouble”, which could be associated with personality traits that result in low survival and therefore poor conservation outcomes. It is therefore important to measure personality traits and relate them to survival to assist in the conservation of this critically endangered species.
Rope bridges to restore gene flow and reduce road fatalities of western ringtail possums
The western ringtail possum (Pseudocheirus occidentalis) has been declared critically endangered. It has an alarming high risk of extinction and road fatalities are a known threat. This project will investigate the effectiveness of rope bridges to reduce road kills and the genetic impact of rope bridges between groups of possums separated by barriers.
The role of seed dormancy in future proofing seagrass populations
Seagrasses are resilient habitats, persisting in environments that are constantly challenged by changing conditions and novel human impacts. Understanding how they do this is the key to future-proofing seagrass populations at risk from change.
Ecosystem resilience of Shark Bay under changing ocean climate
The main goal of this project is to understand the ecosystem scale consequences of climate-driven changes in primary producers in the Shark Bay World Heritage Area.
What’s all the buzz? Managing competing interests in developing Western Australia’s beekeeping industry
The project will assess desirable interventions and strategies to promote balance in our natural environment towards securing a sustainable future for native bushland, wildlife, farming communities, and promotes a commercial beekeeping industry that generates high-value ‘clean and green’ bee products.
Influence of physical drivers on marine megafauna movement patterns
This research aims to characterise environmental (i.e., extrinsic) drivers of movement at a global scale and map global hotspots of abundance and anthropogenic activities to assess levels of overlap and risk.
Balancing risks and rewards in an urban aquifer affected by climate change
The research addresses managed aquifer recharge (MAR) – the intentional recharge of water to suitable aquifers for subsequent recovery or to achieve environmental benefits. It builds on past physical research but focuses on social and economic aspects of MAR. It will use two different methods of estimating the benefits of MAR and converting them into monetary values.
Go with the flow: The ecology of freshwater prawns in the Kimberley
This project will examine the influence of river flows on the ecology and use of the freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium spinipes, in the Fitzroy River. This research will help us to manage risks to northern Australia's rivers from human impacts.
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. This research will help to manage risks to northern Australia’s rivers from human impacts.
Valuing mine site restoration and biodiversity offsets
You will explore the social welfare impacts of restoring old mine sites. Using an economic valuation method called 'choice experiments', you will estimate the values that people attach to environmental rehabilitation.
Investigating the hydrology of the Fitzroy River to protect the iconic sawfish
In order to protect the iconic and endangered largetooth sawfish in northern Australia we must protect critical riverine nursery habitat. The student will work as part of an interdisciplinary team of hydrologists, physiologists and ecologists to develop an ecohydrology model of the Fitzroy River to quantify present and future environmental conditions sawfish experience.
Agricultural and native vegetation systems in the Wheatbelt: Past, present and future
This project aims to assess how both agricultural and native vegetation systems in the Wheatbelt function (crop/vegetation production, greenhouse gas exchanges and water budgets) in the present, how sensitive they have been to past climate variability and how they may respond to future change.
Studying social networks for environmental conservation
This project will study the role of social networks on participation and bidding behaviour in competitive conservation tenders