Can encrusting seaweeds defend themselves? A new direction in marine ecology


Many plants in the terrestrial biomes can turn defences against herbivory on and off in response to specific cues from consumers or nearby herbivory events. This can modify the behaviour of predators and parasites too. Important early work by my students and I in the early 2000's demonstrated that for macroalgae in the northern hemisphere, the same underlying rules matter - induction of defences changes herbivore behaviour. Interestingly, no-one understands if calcareous marine algae, that are ubiquitous across the planet, follow the same rules. This because important given the capacity of different parts of a thallus to subsidise others when under stress, and this can influence competition. So there is the opportunity to tie in some novel biology and test predictions of competition theory.


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, animal behavior and plant-animal interactions

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: 2312

Other opportunities with Professor Ross Coleman