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Australian Heritage Brumby Initiative


This project will determine the relationship between Australian brumbies and modern horse breeds and lay the foundation for genetic management of brumbies on a national scale. 


Dr Brandon Velie .

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences


Like many conservation areas throughout the world, Australian national parks are home not only to a wide range of native flora and fauna, but also to non-native animals. In Australia, perhaps the most controversial of these non-native animals is the Australian Heritage Brumby – a term applied to the wild descendants of domestic horses introduced to Australia in the late 1780s. While brumbies in Australia have been shown to endanger native species and threaten ecosystems, there is also anecdotal evidence that some brumby populations are reservoirs for ancestral horse bloodlines. Consequently, when ecological arguments for brumby eradication in the wild are put forth, these arguments are quickly refuted by brumby organisations that claim brumbies have novel genetic variants that should be preserved. As a result, brumby management continues to be and will likely remain highly contentious until the genetic status of wild brumbies is established. In this project, we will use state-of-the-art genomics technologies (i.e. high density array data and advanced bioinformatics and modelling) to answer 1) What is the relationship between brumbies and modern horse breeds, 2) Do inbreeding levels among the mobs of brumbies warrant concern, and 3) How do alternative management actions impact the population and genetic viability of brumbies and how do these options intersect with conservation and heritage values? 

Additional Supervisors: Associate Professor Bianca Waud; Dr Catherine Grueber

Additional information

Although this project will be based on the Camperdown campus, it will likely involve some sample collection throughout NSW. Experience working with horses is highly beneficial. 


HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

-       Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;

-       Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);

-       Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;

-       Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);

-       Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;

-       Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);

-       Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;

-       Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);

-       Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;

-       Hold a current scuba diving licence;

-       Hold a current Working with Children Check;

-       Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

Want to find out more?

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 3015

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