Any spot on the shore? The things that drive the spatial distribution of intertidal animals


There is still a major issue in animal ecology; what controls the spatial arrangements of animals. Most of the research underpinning our understanding of spatial distributions in marine molluscs has concentrated on ecological explanations such as food supply, predation risk and desiccation. For most these, especially desiccation, such explanations have been found wanting. The most recent developments in the discipline of understanding spatial behaviours have been by theoreticians and modellers. Moreover, many of the important empirical studies have been done on animals such as fish in aquaria; so there is a dichotomy where for most vertebrates, researchers have considered social and ecological factors to explain patterns of grouping yet for almost all invertebrates, ecological (predation, food supply and settlement for example) causes for patterns of distribution are the only explanations tested. We know that for key grazers, the interactions among individuals and the properties of the resting places are key decision components. This project will determine the rules by an animal choses places and how that can be modified in the face of climate change.


Professor Ross Coleman

Research Location

School of Life and Environmental Sciences

Program Type



The detailed question will be developed between the supervisor and candidate. The research will utilize field-based manipulations and experiments with a possibility of modelling patterns. The project will present the candidate to develop high-level skills in experimental design and animal behaviour.

Additional Information

Funding for research costs is provided and a competitive fully funded scholarship will be a possibility for excellent candidates. You will also have exclusive use of our experimental marine site, leased by the supervisor as an experimental station. Aside from an excellent academic track record, you will have skills in invertebrate ecology, marine biology generally and not be afraid of numerical analyses. A clean diving licence is essential.

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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Marine ecology, animal behaviour, rocky shores, fieldwork

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2311

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