Research Opportunities

The MLE-Lab is a dynamic environment and we have an array on movement ecology projects underway. If you are interested in studying Animal Movement, Dispersal, or Migration in tropical species, or wish to engage in new remote environmental monitoring technologies, please get in touch.



The MLE-Lab is currently looking for new members and here are the Prospective Ph.D. projects:

Project 1: Investigating the connection between individual-based movements and population dynamics of grass finches in northern Australia.


This project will be undertaken within the Movement & Landscape Ecology Laboratory and Molecular Ecology group under the supervision of A/Prof. Hamish Campbell, Dr Tara Crewe, and Prof. Sam Banks. The project will combine biotelemetry and landscape genomics to assess how different landscapes influence individual movement and population processes in tropical savanna grass finches.

Grass finches have decreased in abundance and distribution in recent decades. These declines are perplexing because they have occurred in apparently intact savanna ecosystems over vast spatial scales. This project will use an autonomous biotelemetry network deployed throughout the East Kimberley to detect and monitor the individual movement and habitat usage of grass finches. These data will be integrated with diet selection and genomic data to better understand the connection between individual-based movements, landscapes, and meta-population dynamics. The successful student can opt to delve further into landscape genetics or movement ecology, depending on their interests.

The successful applicant will be based at our Darwin campus and work alongside our skilled MLE-Lab field team and the Molecular Ecology Lab group. The successful applicant will be required to spend prolonged periods of time in remote northern Australia, and must be willing to learn bird capture and bleeding, biotelemetry tagging techniques, landscape genomic methods, and spatial data analysis in R.

[full PDF with application details - please click here]


Project 2: Developing the application of remotely piloted aircraft (drones) for wildlife monitoring.


The aim of this thesis will be to advance the use of drone technology for wildlife management. Aerial surveys from manned aircraft or helicopter are widely used for determining the density, distribution, and abundance of introduced vertebrate pests, commercially or recreationally harvested animals, and threatened species. Remotely piloted aircraft (RPA; commonly referred to as “drones” or unmanned aerial vehicles - UAVs) would significantly reduce the costs of aerial surveys and risk to operators. Technological advancement in RPAS sensor technology is enabling automated wildlife survey counts and simultaneous habitat mapping over broad areas. However, there still exists significant logistical, regulatory, and analytical hurdles impeding the uptake of drones for wildlife surveys. The candidate enrolled into this Ph.D. will utilise our fleet of rotor-copter, fixed wing aircraft, and the latest thermal sensors to develop accurate survey techniques for a range of terrestrial and marine fauna across Northern Australia. This candidate will be expected to spend time in remote environments and the research will require good technical, spatial, and analytical skills. Applicants are required to be an Australian Permanent Resident or New Zealand citizen and hold a related first-class honours degree. Training in drone compliance and for licensing will be provided.


Project 3: Tracking flight paths and patterns of movement in birds and bats around airports using weather surveillance radar.

Data supplied by Bureau of Meteorology & produced by Py-Ar t

Data supplied by Bureau of Meteorology & produced by Py-Art

The aim of this thesis is to track the movement patterns of bird and bat populations around airports and controlled airspace using Doppler Weather Radar. Although this technique has been successfully used to track migratory flying species in North America, it has rarely been used in Australia. This is a missed opportunity and the findings from this thesis will provide information to assist with the ongoing management of bird and bat populations in Northern Australia, as well as develop an early warning method to aid in the mitigation of bird strike from aircraft. This thesis will largely be computer-based with some field work. The candidate should have experience in using GIS and remote-sensing software, and computer programming in Python would be desirable.Applicants are required to be an Australian Permanent Resident or New Zealand citizen and hold a related first-class honours degree. Training in drone compliance and for licensing will be provided.