PhD position @ Deakin University – Determinants and consequences of personality in Australasian gannets

PhD Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by Professor John Arnould

Understanding how individuals adapt to niche variability is central to predicting how populations and species may respond to environmental change.

Within all populations, especially within higher vertebrates, there is intrinsic inter-individual variation in how animals respond in various behavioural contexts due to what is commonly referred to in humans as “personality”. Such variability, also known as the “bold-shy continuum”, can have fundamental consequences for energy acquisition in foraging, avoidance of predators, and reproductive outcomes. Quantifying and determining the factors influencing this in free-ranging species, however, is inherently difficult.

This project will use a well-studied model species (the Australasian gannet), at two colonies of contrasting oceanic regimes, with unique data collection opportunities to address this fundamental question in seabirds, the group of avian species at most conservation risk from anthropogenic impacts.

In particular, understanding the degree of, and which factors influence, inter- and intra-individual variability in this species is important for predicting how it may respond to the anticipated environmental changes in the south-eastern Australia marine ecosystem, one of the fastest warming oceanic regions in the world.

For this PhD project, we are looking for a candidate with extensive field experience, well-developed statistical/numerical skills and writing ability.

Interested candidates should contact Professor John Arnould (

For more available positions within the CIE please visit our Current Vacancies page.