Lose home or eat more: comparative prey choice and consumption of different rock lobsters species on barren forming sea urchins

Closing Date

31 May 2019

The Research Project

Tasmanian waters are undergoing unprecedented warming rates almost four times the global average, setting off a large-scale shift of specie’s distribution. The unique Tasmanian marine ecosystem and associated fisheries is affected by newly arriving species. The long-spined sea urchin Centrostephanus rodgersii has extended its distribution from NSW and eastern Victoria to along the east-coast of Tasmania, converting rich and diverse kelp forests into deserted barren habitats. Change in the abundance of Centrostephanus is affected by predation including by southern rock lobsters and eastern rock lobsters. These two species are found from NSW to Tasmania but with Easterns dominating catches in NSW while Southerns dominate catches in Tasmania. The abundance of both lobster species changes through time with rapid increase in southern rock lobster stocks underway at present because of rising recruitment and reduced catches regulated by government. Abundance of eastern rock lobsters is currently low and constrained to North-East Tasmania, however, progressive warming conditions of eastern Tasmania would be expected to favour this species.

This project aims to test relative predation of urchins and optimal foraging by eastern rock lobsters and southern rock lobsters, by applying field and laboratory experiments. Outcomes will be relevant to the management of this threat to Tasmanian ecosystems and fisheries.

Essential skills/experience

An honour’s/master’s degree in biology, ecology, animal physiology or related field Laboratory and technical skills and independent problem solving Excellent written, oral and communication skills Desirable skills/experience: Diving, setup of experiments and previous experience with aquatic animal husbandry would be advantageous Experience in statistical programming with R. Video analysis

Assessment criteria

Applicants will be assessed and ranked according to the quality of their basis for entry research degree and institution, prior peer reviewed publications, academic awards, project-specific skills, training or relevant industry experience, referee’s reports and supervisory support.

Contact for more information

Please contact Dr Michael Oellermann for more information.