PhD Scholarship: Drivers of fisheries recruitment in semi-arid river systems

Project description:

picture of riverSemi-arid river systems are among the most highly impacted of the world’s freshwater aquatic environments. Fish, are among the most affected biota in these environments with many species in decline or near extinction. Successful natural spawning and recruitment is the key to the long-term conservation of numerous species but in many cases the key drivers of these processes are poorly understood.

The proposed PhD project will work across two semi-arid river systems to identify the drivers and the scales that fish recruitment and productivity operate at.

The focus of the proposed project will be on connectivity and natal origin of key fish species. The project will be undertaken in the Murray-Darling Basin and in South Africa in association with a newly-formed MOU with the University of Mpumalanga. It is anticipated that the work will lead to a greater understanding on the recruitment dynamics of fish across multiple continents which will in turn lead to improved river management and applicability of this work at a global scale.

For this PhD project we are seeking a candidate to be part of a multi-disciplinary team of CSU and NSW DPI ecologists, chemists and river ecologists. The candidate must possess the ability to develop cutting-edge research around a topic seeking to deploy novel techniques to monitor movements of fish. Ultimately they will have the opportunity to greatly influence future fisheries management through south-eastern Australia and Southern Africa whilst interacting with international experts. The candidate will have access to state-of-the-art lab equipment, research laboratories and facilities through both CSU and NSW DPI. Under the mentorship of highly experienced researchers, the candidate will be supported in their continued training as a researcher and will gain exposure to researchers and employment opportunities across the academic, public and private sector, both in Australia and internationally.

Place of employment and place of work:

The candidate will be enrolled in the Institute of Land Water and Society at the Albury-Wodonga Campus of Charles Sturt University under the supervision of Associate Professor Lee Baumgartner. The primary place of employment can be either, by negotiation, at the Narrandera Fisheries Centre or Albury Campus of Charles Sturt University. Fieldwork will be essential at various sites across NSW and South Africa.


Stipend range: $27,596-43,110 (tax free) per year over 3 years with generous support in the form of operational expenses and technical staff assistance from government research facilities. There will be the potential to supplement the stipend by undertaking a limited amount of casual work on related fisheries projects (within CSU and NSW DPI) to diversify skills, in accordance with the universities employment rules for scholarship students.

Selection criteria:

All scholarship applications are assessed against three common selection criteria:

Previous Academic Performance: (70% of the assessment). This assessment considers the nature and level of the applicant's highest, relevant qualification and grade point average.

Research and/or Professional Experience: Evidence of an applicant's research achievements and relevant professional experience (15% of the assessment). This includes such aspects as peer-reviewed research outputs, high esteem academic awards and prizes, relevant research or professional experience.

Research Alignment and Supervisor Capacity at CSU: Alignment with strategic research priorities and strengths contributes up to around 15% of the assessment. This includes the strength of alignment with the CSU Research Narrative; the supervisory capacity and the strength of the research environment within the field of research; and the expected impact and end user engagement of the proposed research.

To be awarded an Institute for Land, Water and Society scholarship for this project, we are also seeking candidates who meet all of the following additional criteria:

- A strong record of publication with international experience outside Australia;
- A background in ecology or chemistry;
- Understanding of catadromous and potamodromous fish movements;
- Experience working in a dynamic interdisciplinary environment;
- Have experience tracking movements of fish in large freshwater river systems using telemetry equipment and the associated
analysis of data emanating from this;
- Experience with freshwater fish sampling equipment


Starting date will be February 2020 (Session 1).

Expressing an interest:

Applicants will need to apply for enrolment and also send an expression interest (including a full CV and a brief cover letter addressing the selection criteria of no more than two pages) outlining your experience and research interests to Dr Lee Baumgartner, Charles Sturt University (; 0427 070 056), and cc’d to BOTH Dr Jason Thiem and Dr Gavin Butler, NSW Department of Primary Industries,; ).

Closing date:

The closing date for applications (including enrolment application, CV and expression of interest) is 31st October 2019. Interviews will be held after the closing date.


The opportunity is only open to Australian citizens, Australian residents or those eligible to study in Australia under the commonwealth research training program. The candidate must also be able and willing to travel to South Africa. Please check your availability to apply prior to submitting an application.