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How can animals cope with climatic variability?


Research to discover how the environment affects animal function, and if and how animals can compensate for environmental variability.


Professor Frank Seebacher.

Research location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program type



Climate has always been variable and in the evolution of animals this variability has played a major part in determining biological function and distribution of species.  Animals can respond to variability at a number of levels, ranging from changes in behaviour, physiology, and gene expression of individuals to evolutionary adaptation of species and populations within species.  Failure to compensate for environmental variability will result in loss of fitness and ultimately extinction.  Hence, it is essential to understand the biological processes that enable animals to respond to changes in their environment.  The most important questions in the field are at what level of organisation do animals respond to changing environmental conditions – if at all? How important is variability within individuals (phenotypic plasticity) relative to genetic adaptation of populations and species? What is the interaction between genotype and phenotype? There is a lot of scope for research in this field and individual postgraduate projects will depend on the interests of the student.  Hence, projects can incorporate various amounts of field and laboratory work, concentrate on different aspects of animal function such as gene expression, physiology, behaviour, or ecological interactions.

Additional information

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 license;
- 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.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 761