Our lab is enthusiastic about developing new partnerships with government and NGOs who are interested in finding improved ways of managing landscapes for biodiversity conservation.  Contact Don to discuss how your cash investment could leverage a PhD scholarship through Deakin’s industry scholarship program, or a whole research fiesta through the ARC Linkage program.


Post Doctoral

Deakin University offers the Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellowship.

If you are interested in joining our lab as an ADPF (and you have a strong track record with several papers in high-ranking journals; ADPFs are very competitive), please contact me to discuss your ideas for projects.

If you have a great idea on a theme relevant to our lab and you can gather financial support from industry partners, I am happy to discuss developing an ARC Linkage grant.



PhD: Keystone habitat dynamics in agricultural landscapes

An exciting opportunity exists to study the dynamics of a keystone habitat in agricultural landscapes. The impacts of agricultural expansion on biodiversity can accumulate over decades, including weed invasion and loss of keystone habitat features. Accumulation and interaction of these effects may be accelerating species loss from farming regions beyond the rate due to habitat loss alone. Understanding these processes is a critical knowledge gap for species conservation in disturbed landscapes.

This project aims to understand the dynamics of a keystone habitat feature (spinifex Triodia scariosa) in remnant mallee woodlands in central New South Wales, Australia. Spinifex provides important habitat for many other species, but its persistence in agricultural areas may be threatened by weed invasion, competition and the alteration of other ecosystem processes. This project will involve field sampling, a manipulative experiment, and habitat mapping using an unmanned aerial vehicle (‘drone’) to assess spinifex availability across a range of site and landscape conditions. For the right student, there may be opportunities to incorporate additional aspects of plant or animal ecology into the current project.

Funding has already been secured from the Hermon Slade Foundation and Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University. The overall project is led by Dr Tim Doherty in Prof. Don Driscoll’s research group at Deakin’s Burwood (Melbourne) campus. The start date can be late 2017 or early 2018.

The ideal candidate will have experience or interest in landscape/disturbance/plant/wildlife ecology, remote sensing, fieldwork and/or scientific publishing. The candidate will need to secure a PhD scholarship: http://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/rtp-and-duprs

For further information, please email tdohert@deakin.edu.au with the subject line ‘Keystone habitat PhD’.



Deakin University offers several types of PhD scholarships.

In addition, there are occasional calls for industry-related scholarships.

If you have published a paper (or more), topics that we could develop projects on include:

  • Tiger snake movement and ecology in NSW wetlands
  • Water-borne weed invasion of wetlands in NSW
  • Freshwater crayfish population ecology under pressure of human and bird predation in NSW
  • Fire ecology and management in Western Victoria

Information technology in applied conservation and ecology.

If you have solid background in machine learning and image analysis and would like to contribute to revolutionising the way ecology is done in the field, there are opportunities opening up in cross-disciplinary research. Email me to discuss options.




If you have a great idea that would complement an existing PhD or Post-Doctoral project, please contact me to discuss your ideas.

Current projects available:


Honours Project: Amphibian ecology. Habitat use and movement of a chytrid reservoir species

Amphibian chytrid fungus has emerged as a major cause of global amphibian declines. Disease dynamics are complicated by the presence of non-susceptible amphibian species, which act as reservoirs and vectors of infection, living alongside more susceptible species. This project will examine the ecology of the common eastern froglet (Crinia signifera) in an upland area of Victoria where they occur alongside Baw Baw frogs (Philoria frosti). In particular it will focus on how their habitat use, movement and occupation of newly disturbed areas influences their impacts as a reservoir of chytrid infection for threatened Baw Baw frog populations.

This project is suited to an independent and motivated student who enjoys challenging fieldwork (off track walking through dense forest, in any weather: it’s fun!).

Start date: mid-year 2017 for spring/summer fieldwork

Supervision: Prof Don Driscoll, Tom Burns (PhD student), Deakin University Burwood Campus

If interested please contact d.driscoll@deakin.edu.au or THOMAS BURNS (burnst@deakin.edu.au) ****





Title: Reconnecting landscapes through the matrix. A test using invertebrates.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Don Driscoll

Principal Supervisor contact details: d.driscoll@deakin.edu.au

Associate Supervisor: Dr Nick Porch nicholas.porch@deakin.edu.au

Associate Supervisor, external: Stephanie Pulsford, PhD Candidate, ANU.


Wildlife movement is critical.  It enables effective foraging within a home range, dispersal to new home ranges and range changes in response to climate change.  However, movement is severely curtailed by habitat loss associated with intensive agriculture. Our project aims to discover if wildlife movement can be improved through productive farmland by altering management within paddocks. By understanding the connectivity value of rotational grazing, fences, linear tree plantings, and addition of course woody debris, we will define new methods for enhancing ecological sustainability in production landscapes. Without this knowledge, opportunities for increasing connectivity may be foregone.


This project will involve converting a large invertebrate collection into data in Nick’s lab, undertaking statistical analysis with the close guidance of Don and Stephanie, then writing up the project with input from all supervisors.  For the right student, this project has the potential to lead to one or more publications, and a great early start to your career.





*Almost all of our projects require driving manual four-wheel drives.  You must have a licence to drive a manual vehicle to take on a field project.