Dynamic predictive modelling of interaction risk for seabirds and marine turtles in Australian pelagic longline fisheries - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Dynamic predictive modelling of interaction risk for seabirds and marine turtles in Australian pelagic longline fisheries

Currently accepting Expression of Interest submissions.

Open to

Newly commencing domestic students

HDR Program


Study area

Engineering, planning and science

Funding type

Living stipend scholarship and *tuition fee scholarship

*Domestic students with an unconditional offer to undertake a higher degree by research program will be offered an RTP Fees Offset Scholarship.

Scholarship value

$28,597 per annum tax free (2021 rate), *indexed annually

*commensurate with current Research Training Scholarship base stipend rate

Scholarship duration

3 years with the possibility of a 6-month extension in approved circumstances.


Incidental bycatch of non-target and protected species is a global barrier to ecological sustainability in marine wild-capture fisheries. This project will address the underlying drivers of wildlife interactions in pelagic longline fisheries, focusing specifically on seabird and marine turtle interactions in Australia's Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery. Working in collaboration with several research partners including the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the Remote Sensing Group at Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK and the Coastal and Regional Oceanography Laboratory at UNSW, the project will take an inter-disciplinary and data-driven approach to developing new solutions for mitigating and managing fisheries-wildlife interactions. Using fisheries logbooks and electronic monitoring datasets in conjunction with physical data from satellite remote sensing and ocean models, the project aims to develop state-of-the-art dynamic predictive models of fisheries interaction risk for seabirds and marine turtles in East Australian waters and create interactive digital risk mapping tools for use by industry, managers, and other stakeholders.


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 the research group 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.


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

  • Be accepted into a Higher Degrees by Research program at the University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Not have an equivalent qualification to the one for which they are currently applying
  • Have a First-Class Bachelor Honours Degree, or show equivalent level of achievement with other academic qualifications or professional research experience
  • Applications can only be accepted from Domestic students
Selection criteria
  • Undergraduate degree
  • Research training degree (First Class Honours or equivalent)
  • Research publications
  • Professional research experience
  • Quantitative skills in numerical ecology
  • Proficiency in programming in a language common in numerical ecology e.g. R, Python, MatLab or Julia. R preferred
  • Evidence of proficiency in spatial analysis and/or using Geographic Information Systems
Number available
This will be a two-stage application process: Stage 1 - Expression of Interest:
  • Interested applicants should email a completed Expression of Interest (EOI) form together with any supporting documents to the contact person.
  • The scholarship assessment panel will review the EOI. If shortlisted, you will be invited for interview.
  • The preferred applicant will be invited to formally apply.
Stage 2 - Formal application (only if you have been invited to apply)  *scholarship offer is subject to applicant meeting the eligibility requirements for entry into a higher degree by research program at USC.