Job Position: 
Graduate Opportunities
Closing Date: 
Tuesday, October 17, 2017

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to join an on-­going research project on the evolution of sociality in coral reef fishes, based at the University
of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.

Overview: This is an exciting opportunity to join an interdisciplinary team of researchers to understand the causes and consequences of sociality in reef fishes. The project will combine field experimental investigations at multiple sites along the Great Barrier Reef with laboratory genetic analysis based at the University of Wollongong. Research funding for this project is secured, and we currently seek a motivated and talented student to undertake this project.

The project supervisors are:
University of Wollongong Dr. Marian Wong & Prof. Mark Dowton
University of Technology Sydney Dr. Selma Klanten

Project Outline: Sociality is a common and taxonomically widespread phenomenon in tropical marine fishes. In spite of this, comparative analyses of sociality to date have been focused on birds, mammals and insects. Coral-­reef fishes are an ideal group with which to test the generality of hypotheses for social evolution because: i) they exhibit considerable inter-­specific variation in social organization, ii) species-­ level phylogenetic relationships have already been resolved for some key groups of coral-­reef fishes, and iii) they inhabit shallow coral reefs facilitating field observations, experiments and collections (for summary see:­Systems-­in-­Habitat-­Specialist-­Reef). As the ecology and life-­history of fish differ in major respects to birds, mammals and insects, this comparative analysis of sociality will likely yield novel and transformative results that will significantly advance the field of social evolution (see: DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2017.00100). This PhD project will investigate the causes and consequences of sociality in one particular group of coral-­reef fishes known as “habitat-­specialists”. These species reside permanently within discrete patches of reef habitat, including corals and anemones.

Mentorship: This project is supervised by Dr. Marian Wong, a behavioural ecologist and Senior Lecturer (;, Prof. Mark Dowton, molecular ecologist and Head of Students at the University of Wollongong ( and Dr. Selma Klanten, a molecular geneticist based at the University of Technology, Sydney ( The University of Wollongong offers excellent scholarship, career development and supervisory support for post-­graduate students in a friendly and collegiate setting.

Applicant Requirements: The applicant is expected to have completed a recognised undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences with an Honours degree (or equivalent) in marine biology and/or ecology, and possess a demonstrated interest in animal behaviour. The successful applicant must also be SCUBA qualified. Boating skills are desirable but not essential. Domestic and international applicants are encouraged to apply – domestic students would need to apply for an AGRTP ( and international students would need to apply for a UPA ( to cover stipend costs.

Applications: Please send a CV to Dr. Marian Wong ( and Prof. Mark Dowton ( no later than Friday 6th October.

Deadlines: 17th October (for scholarship applications for commencement of degree in February 2018).

Job Location: 
Wollongong, NSW