Fully funded PhD opportunity- Identifying hotspots of fisheries bycatch risk to marine predators in dynamic seascapes using big data

Fully funded PhD opportunity: Identifying hotspots of fisheries bycatch risk to marine predators in dynamic seascapes using big data


Job Description


Job Title:
Fully funded PhD opportunity: Identifying hotspots of fisheries bycatch risk to marine predators in dynamic seascapes using big data
Accountable to:

University of the Sunshine Coast

Responsible for University of the Sunshine Coast
Scholarship value:
$28,597 per annum tax free (2021 rate), *indexed annually 

Location Sunshine Coast, Australia

Overview of The University of the Sunshine Coast:

We’re a young university, not limited by tradition or old ways of thinking. We strive to pass this mindset on to our students and staff.
Whether it’s building a career or pursuing a lifelong passion, connecting with your community at home or all around the world, we’re here to help you realise every opportunity.

We value your natural curiosity, your creativity, your resourcefulness, and your commitment to make an impact on the people around you.
This supportive environment sets us apart – our teachers and staff dedicated to ensuring you have the tools you need to reach your goals, whatever they may be.

We provide the hands-on learning and practical skills needed by the people of our diverse regions from Moreton Bay to the Fraser Coast: the nurses, teachers, mental health and medical professionals, environmentalists, scientists, engineers, lawyers, problem solvers, creators and creative thinkers, high-performance athletes, entrepreneurs and the leaders of tomorrow who improve the lives of people at home and abroad.

Our vision: Enriching our regions, connecting with our communities and creating opportunities for all.

Overview of the project:

Incidental bycatch of non-target species is a global barrier to ecological sustainability in marine wild-capture fisheries. This project aims to identify hotspots of fisheries bycatch risk to non-target marine predators on a global scale, and elucidate the underlying drivers of fisheries-wildlife interactions in dynamic seascapes. This project will take a data-driven approach to linking ocean state and variability with the spatio-temporal dynamics of fishing effort and at-sea habitat use of marine predators at a scale and resolution not previously possible.

Working in collaboration with multiple international research partners, including leading researchers in the animal tracking and biologging field who will provide electronic tracking datasets describing the movements of wild animals at sea; Global Fishing Watch (Oceana/Google/SkyTruth) providing Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) data for tracking vessel movements; and the Remote Sensing Group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK providing physical data from satellite oceanography, the project aims to:

  • Identify areas of overlap between longline fisheries and at-sea habitats of non-target marine predators (seabirds, marine turtles);
  • Quantify associations between hotspots and physical conditions or seascape features such as ocean currents, frontal zones, eddy fields, upwellings and seamount chains;
  • Develop dynamic predictive models that can generate species- and region-specific maps of relative bycatch risk over monthly, seasonal, annual and decadal timescales;
  • Make recommendations for identifying priority areas for mobile marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas and in national jurisdictions. 
Overview of the position:
The successful candidate will become a member of a thriving and dynamic research lab led by Dr. Kylie Scales, quantitative marine ecologist in the School of Science, Technology and Engineering at USC. The HDR scholarship is part of a wider project funded by a prestigious Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellowship to Dr. Scales.

The successful candidate will join several other students and researchers working on a range of topics in marine ecology, fisheries oceanography, ecological forecasting and dynamic ocean management. The project will present opportunities to publish research findings in leading multi-disciplinary science journals, present at international conferences, travel to partner institutions overseas to work with leading researchers working in the animal tracking, biologging, satellite remote sensing and fisheries oceanography spaces and build international collaborative networks.

Ideal candidate:
The successful applicant will take a collegial and collaborative approach to working as part of a team in a dynamic research environment. They will be adaptable, proactive and committed, and prepared to self-direct and take the lead on the development of their own research skills and outcomes.

They will be prepared to seek out solutions beyond the immediate and obvious where necessary. The ideal candidate will have well-developed skills in quantitative ecology, experience with handling large datatsets, knowledge and understanding of physical oceanography, experience with animal tracking data and/or an interest in marine biodiversity and conservation. Diversity and inclusion are central to our lab’s philosophy, and principles of equity will be applied throughout the candidate selection process.

Application Process 

Click here to apply 
For questions or to submit your Expression of Interest, direct your enquiry to Dr. Kylie Scales.