Tag Archives: honours

Honours projects for 2018

Looking for an exciting honours project in ecology? I have three openings for 2018.

I also welcome other project ideas from students if they fit with my expertise and research priorities.

To find out more, please refer to the Deakin University website: Honours in Life and Environmental Sciences, or contact me.

Fox, cat and fire interactions in the Grampians National Park

Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University) and Dr Tim Doherty, (Deakin University)

Start date: February 2018

Foxes are invasive predators in the Grampians. Image credit: Dan Derrett via Flickr

This project, a research partnership between Parks Victoria and Deakin University, will examine fox and cat distribution across the Grampians National Park. Specifically, it will aim to examine:

  1. The effect of fire on fox and cat habitat use.
  2. Fox diet.

Experience with using R and/or ArcGIS will be advantageous but is not essential. A manual driver’s licence is essential for this project.

The ecological role of eastern barred bandicoots in a newly established island population

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Duncan Sutherland (Phillip Island Nature Parks) and Dr Amy Coetsee (Zoos Victoria)

Start date: February or July 2018

Eastern barred bandicoots persist only in captivity or within fox-free nature reserves. Image credit JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Mainland eastern barred bandicoots (EBBs) are listed as extinct in the wild, persisting only in captivity or within fox-free fenced reserves.

Phillip Island Nature Parks, together with Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, have established an EBB population on fox-free Churchill Island, adjacent to Phillip Island.

This project forms part of a broader effort to bring EBBs back from the brink of extinction and off the threatened species list. We seek an honours student for a project to experimentally determine the role of EBBs as ecological engineers, in particular their effect on invertebrate communities.

Experience with using R and/or ArcGIS will be advantageous but is not essential. Field accommodation on Phillip Island is available.

Large herbivore impacts on alpine ecosystems

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Professor Don Driscoll and Dr Tim Doherty (Deakin University)

Start date: July 2018

Large, introduced herbivores, such as deer, threaten alpine ecosystems. Image credit: Rexness via Flickr

Large feral herbivores, such as horses and deer, threaten alpine ecosystems through overgrazing and trampling of vegetation, spreading weeds, elevated nutrients, and breaking down stream banks and reducing water quality.

This project will examine the impacts of large herbivores on alpine vegetation communities, and in turn on smaller, native vertebrate species.

Experience with using R and/or ArcGIS will be advantageous, but is not essential. A manual driver’s licence is essential for this project.

Honours projects for 2017 (closed)

Looking for an exciting honours project in ecology? I have four openings for 2017.

I also welcome other project ideas from students if they fit with my expertise and research priorities.

To find out more, please refer to the Deakin University website: Honours in Life and Environmental Sciences, or contact me.

Ecosystem ecology: understanding interactions between predators, prey, and fire in Victoria’s Big Desert-Wyperfeld region

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External Supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University), Tim Doherty (Deakin University), Tom Newsome (Deakin University)

Start date: February 2017

The Australian dingo, Canis lupus dingo. Image courtesy Angus McNab.

Dingoes and wild dogs are top predators in northwest Victoria’s national parks. Image credit: Angus McNab.

Northwest Victoria’s conservation reserves are key flagship areas home to high species diversity, including many species of conservation concern. Within this region, wild canids (dingoes/wild dogs), the top predators, are patchily distributed, being relatively common in the Big Desert-Wyperfeld region, but largely absent from the northern Murray Sunset and Hattah-Kulkyne national parks.

Wild canids, like other top predators worldwide, are known to be critical in influencing species throughout the ecosystems in which they occur. However, it remains to be determined what role(s) dingoes/wild dogs perform in Big Desert-Wyperfeld.

Specifically, do they regulate populations of overabundant herbivores (e.g. kangaroos) and/or invasive predators (e.g. cats and foxes), and does this in turn benefit native prey species (e.g. hopping mice)?

We will examine the role(s) of wild canids by surveying their distribution and abundance in the Big Desert-Wyperfeld region, and relating it to that of other key species of conservation and/or pest management concern.

This will be achieved through a combination of remote camera trapping, sand pads, scat counts and giving up density experiments.

Predators, prey and fire in Wilsons Promontory National Park

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External Supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University), Tim Doherty (Deakin University)

Start date: July 2017

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image credit Toby Hudson via Wikimedia Commons

Fire and predation are key processes that shape the structure and function of ecological communities. Despite their importance, few studies have examined how they may interact to affect the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of species across different habitats.

This project will examine the effects of fire and predation on mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park (which contains one-third of Victoria’s mammal species).

This work is supported by a Parks Victoria research partnership.

Fox, cat and fire interactions in the Grampians National Park

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University), Associate Professor John White (Deakin University), Tim Doherty (Deakin University)

Start date: February or July 2017

Foxes are invasive predators in the Grampians. Image credit: Dan Derrett via Flickr

Foxes are invasive predators in the Grampians. Image credit: Dan Derrett via Flickr

This project, a research partnership between Parks Victoria and Deakin University, will examine fox and cat distribution across the Grampians National Park. Specifically, it will aim to:

  1. Determine the most effective way to survey these invasive predators, using a combination of camera traps and scat counts.
  2. Examine the effect of fire on fox and cat habitat use.
  3. Examine how foxes and cats are associated with native mammals (as part of an ongoing, long-term study led by Associate Professor White).

The ecological role of eastern barred bandicoots in a newly established island population

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Duncan Sutherland (Phillip Island Nature Parks) and Dr Amy Coetsee (Zoos Victoria)

Start date: February or July 2017

Eastern barred bandicoots persist only in captivity or within fox-free nature reserves. Image credit JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Eastern barred bandicoots persist only in captivity or within fox-free nature reserves. Image credit JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Mainland eastern barred bandicoots (EBBs) are listed as extinct in the wild, persisting only in captivity or within fox-free fenced reserves.

Phillip Island Nature Parks, together with Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, are conducting an experimental release of EBBs onto fox-free Churchill Island, adjacent to Phillip Island, which lies outside the known historic range of the species.

This project forms part of a broader effort to bring the EBBs back from the brink of extinction and off the threatened species list.

We are seeking an honours student for a project to experimentally determine the role of EBBs as ecological engineers and to continue a monitoring programme into the survival rates, reproductive success and habitat use of EBBs.

The project will involve soil and habitat assessments, live-trapping, radio-tracking and camera trapping.

The candidate will require a manual driver’s licence. Field accommodation on Phillip Island is available.

Honours projects for 2016 (closed)

NOTE: these places have now been filled.

Looking for an exciting honours project in ecology? I have five openings for 2016.

I also welcome other project ideas from students if they fit with my expertise and research priorities.

To find out more, please refer to the Deakin University website: Honours in Life and Environmental Sciences, or contact me.

Ecosystem ecology: understanding interactions between predators, prey, and fire in Victoria’s Big Desert

Principal supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External Supervisor: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University)

Start date: February 2016

The Australian dingo,  Canis lupus dingo. Image courtesy Angus McNab.

Dingoes and wild dogs are top predators in northwest Victoria’s national parks. Image credit: Angus McNab.

Northwest Victoria’s conservation reserves are key flagship areas home to high species diversity, including many species of conservation concern. Within this region, wild canids (dingoes/wild dogs), the top predators, are patchily distributed, being relatively common in the Big Desert-Wyperfeld region, but largely absent from the northern Murray Sunset and Hattah-Kulkyne national parks.

Wild canids, like other top predators worldwide, are known to be critical in influencing species throughout the ecosystems in which they occur. However, it remains to be determined what role(s) dingoes/wild dogs perform in Big Desert-Wyperfeld. Specifically, do they regulate populations of overabundant herbivores (e.g. kangaroos) and/or invasive predators (e.g. cats and foxes), and does this in turn benefit native prey species (e.g. hopping mice)?

We will examine the role(s) of wild canids by surveying their distribution and abundance in the Big Desert-Wyperfeld region, and relating it to that of other key species of conservation and/or pest management concern. This will be achieved through a combination of remote camera trapping, sand pads, scat counts and giving up density experiments.

Putting the heat on species interactions: predators, prey and fire in Wilsons Promontory National Park

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External Supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University)

Start date: July 2016

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson, via Wikimedia Commons

Fire and predation are key processes that shape the structure and function of ecological communities. Despite their importance, few studies have examined how they may interact to affect the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of species across different habitats.

This project will examine the effects of fire and predation on mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park. This work is supported by a Parks Victoria research partnership.

How does the composition and configuration of agricultural land use affect patch occupancy of bat species?

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External Supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University)

Start date: February 2016

Bats

More than 20 species of bat are found in Victoria. Image credit: bellogarrey via Flickr

Bat species are an important element of Australia’s countryside biodiversity. They also provide ecosystem services to agriculture through invertebrate pest control.

Previous studies have highlighted the importance of remnant vegetation embedded within farmland for the conservation of bat species, but little research has investigated how agricultural matrix surrounding these remnant patches influences patch occupancy.

This study will investigate how the composition and configuration of farmland surrounding remnant vegetation influences patch occupancy of bat species. Remnant patches of native vegetation embedded within agricultural land across in the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority will be surveyed using echolocation call detection. The majority of the remnants patches selected for surveys have been identified by the catchment as high priority conservation sites.

The results of this project will provide important insights as to how best manage agricultural land in order to enhance the conservation potential of remnant vegetation, as well as potentially increase ecosystem services to agriculture.

Fox, cat and fire interactions in the Grampians National Park

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo (Charles Sturt University) and Associate Professor John White (Deakin University)

Start date: July 2016

Fox

Foxes are invasive predators in the Grampians. Image credit: Dan Derrett via Flickr

This project, a research partnership between Parks Victoria and Deakin University, will examine fox and cat distribution across the Grampians National Park. Specifically, it will aim to:

  1. Determine the most effective way to survey these invasive predators, using a combination of camera traps, scat counts and sand pads.
  2. Examine the effect of fire on fox and cat habitat use.
  3. Examine how foxes and cats are associated with native mammals (as part of an ongoing, long-term study led by Associate Professor White).

The ecological role of eastern barred bandicoots in a newly established island population

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External and co-supervisors: Dr Duncan Sutherland (Phillip Island Nature Parks) and Dr Amy Coetsee (Zoos Victoria)

Start date: February 2016

Eastern barred bandicoots

Eastern barred bandicoots persist only in captivity or within fox-free nature reserves. Image credit JJ Harrison via Wikimedia Commons

Mainland eastern barred bandicoots (EBBs) are listed as extinct in the wild, persisting only in captivity or within fox-free fenced reserves.

Phillip Island Nature Parks, together with Zoos Victoria and the Eastern Barred Bandicoot Recovery Team, are conducting an experimental release of EBBs onto fox-free Churchill Island, adjacent to Phillip Island, which lies outside the known historic range of the species.

This project forms part of a broader effort to bring the EBBs back from the brink of extinction and off the threatened species list.

We are seeking an honours student for a project to experimentally determine the role of EBBs as ecological engineers and to continue a monitoring programme into the survival rates, reproductive success and habitat use of EBBs.

The project will involve soil and habitat assessments, live-trapping, radio-tracking and camera trapping.

The candidate will require a manual driver’s licence. Field accommodation on Phillip Island is available.

Honours projects for 2015 (closed)

NOTE: these places have now been filled.

Looking for an exciting honours project in ecology? I have five openings for 2015.

I also welcome other project ideas from students if they fit with my expertise and research priorities.

To find out more, please refer to the Deakin University School of Life and Environmental Sciences Honours 2014 Information Booklet, or contact me.

The distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park (two projects)

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Principal supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

Associate supervisors: Dr Dale Nimmo EMAIL WEB and Dr Greg Holland EMAIL

External supervisor: Dr Naomi Davis EMAIL

Start date: February and July 2015

Fire and predation are key processes that shape the structure and function of ecological communities. Despite their importance, few studies have examined how they may interact to affect the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of species across different habitats.

Two separate but related honours projects will examine the effects of fire and predation on mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park.

Experience with using GIS will be an advantage for these projects.

This work is supported by Parks Victoria.  

Where and when did Tasmanian devils last occur in Victoria? (one  project)

 Tasmanian Devils, Sarcophilus harrisii, were once abundant on the Australian mainland. Image by JJ Harrison[CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tasmanian Devils, Sarcophilus harrisii, were once abundant on the Australian mainland. Image by JJ Harrison[CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

External supervisors: Dr Erich Fitzgerald EMAIL

Start date: July 2015

This project seeks to establish the prehistoric geographic distribution and habitats of devils across Victoria using the palaeontology collection at Museum Victoria and established proxies for palaeo-environmental reconstruction.

It will also use Carbon dating of fossil and sub-fossil devil specimens in the palaeontology collection to estimate when devils existed across Victoria and refine the timing of their extinction on mainland Australia.  

Movement patterns and habitat use of camels in arid Australia (one project)

Camels blah Blah Image credit "07. Camel Profile, near Silverton, NSW, 07.07.2007" by Jjron - Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:07._Camel_Profile,_near_Silverton,_NSW,_07.07.2007.jpg#mediaviewer/File:07._Camel_Profile,_near_Silverton,_NSW,_07.07.2007.jpg.

How do environmental conditions affect the movemnet and habitat choices of Australian’s largest introduced herbivore? Image credit: Jjron [CC BY-SA 3.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Principal supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

Associate supervisor: Associate Professor John Arnould EMAIL

External supervisor: Dr Andrew Woolnough, Department of Environment and Primary Industries EMAIL

Start date: July 2015

The camel is Australia’s largest introduced herbivore and populations of this species are reaching high numbers across much of the arid zone. Due to their large body-size and mobility, camels may have significant effects on both the habitats and rural communities in which they occur.

There is therefore a clear need to better understand what environmental conditions influence their movement patterns and habitat choice.

A large data set exists from GPS collars which tracked the movements of camels in the Pilbara region of Western Australia over a year. Data includes ambient temperature, activity (every two hours), and GPS location (every three hours).

Using this dataset the aim will be to investigate the links between environmental conditions, activity and movement patterns (habitat use) in camels. The successful student will ideally be experienced in using GIS and have a competent statistical background.

Predators and prey: understanding interactions between wild canids and other fauna in North West Victoria’s semi-arid landscapes (one project)

The Australian dingo,  Canis lupus dingo. Image courtesy Angus McNab.

Dingoes are the top predators in northwestern Victoria’s national parks, but what does their distribution and abundance tell us about the wider ecosystem?. Image credit: Angus McNab, used with permission.

Principal Supervisor: Dr Euan Ritchie

Associate supervisor: Dr Dale Nimmo EMAIL WEB

Start date: February 2015

Northwest Victoria’s national parks are key flagship areas that are home to high species diversity, including many species of conservation concern. Within this region, wild canids (dingoes/wild dogs), the top predators, are patchily distributed, being relatively common in Big Desert national park but largely absent from the northern Murray Sunset and Hattah-Kulkyne national parks.

Wild canids, like other top predators worldwide, are known to be critical in influencing species throughout the ecosystems in which they occur. However, it remains to be examined what role(s) dingoes/wild dogs perform in northwest Victoria’s national parks. Specifically, do they regulate populations of overabundant herbivores (e.g. goats, kangaroos and rabbits) and/or invasive predators (e.g. cats and foxes), and does this in turn benefit native prey species (e.g. hopping mice and mallee fowl)?

We will examine the role(s) of wild canids by surveying their distribution and abundance across the region, and relating it to that of other key species of conservation and/or pest management concern. This will be achieved through a combination of remote camera trapping and sand pads. In addition, canid diet will be examined through the collection and analysis of fecal pellets, allowing examination of the impact of canids on species recorded in their diet.

More information

Honours projects for 2014 (closed)

NOTE: these places have now been filled.

See: Honours projects for 2015

Looking for an exciting honours project in ecology? I have three openings from mid-2014.

I also welcome other project ideas from students if they fit with my expertise and research priorities.

To find out more, please refer to the Deakin University School of Life and Environmental Sciences Honours 2014 Information Booklet, or contact me.

The distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park (two projects)

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Wilsons Prom is home to native mammals such as the Swamp Wallaby, Wallabia bicolor. Image by Toby Hudson [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Supervisors: Dr Euan Ritchie and Dr Dale Nimmo

Start date: July 2014

Fire and predation are key processes that shape the structure and function of ecological communities. Despite their importance, few studies have examined how they may interact to affect the distribution, abundance and habitat preferences of species across different habitats.

Two separate but related honours projects will examine the effects of fire and predation on mammals in Wilsons Promontory National Park. This work will be supported by Parks Victoria. Experience with using GIS will be an advantage for these projects.

Where and when did Tasmanian devils last occur in Victoria? (one  project)

 Tasmanian Devils, Sarcophilus harrisii, were once abundant on the Australian mainland. Image by JJ Harrison[CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Tasmanian Devils, Sarcophilus harrisii, were once abundant on the Australian mainland. Image by JJ Harrison[CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Supervisors: Dr Euan Ritchie and Dr Erich Fitzgerald

Start date: July 2014

This project seeks to establish the prehistoric geographic distribution and habitats of devils across Victoria using the Palaeontology Collection at Museum Victoria and established proxies for palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. It will also use Carbon dating of fossil and subfossil devil specimens in the Palaeontology Collection to estimate when devils existed across Victoria and refine the timing of their extinction on mainland Australia.

More information