Conservation of forest birds

Safeguarding bird biodiversity in forest landscapes

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore


$28,597pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

This PhD projects will survey bird communities in Tasmania’s beautiful forests. The project will involve fieldwork in unmanaged reserves and old-growth forest, previously harvested forests and recent fire-impacted sites in a landscape ecology study. Birds are affected by land-use changes impacting structure and composition of forests and many species rely on old-growth trees for nesting habitat. Different approaches to plantation and native forest timber harvesting and availability of mature forest reserves could have varying impacts on bird communities. This project will contribute to a large ARC Future Fellowship study investigating the complex trade-offs involved between biodiversity conservation and timber production. Bird species responses will be linked with timber yield/revenue data across contrasting management systems in novel approach to quantifying optimal land-use allocation. The research aims to determine the ideal mix of reserves and management to optimise bird conservation outcomes.

Fieldwork plans will be aligned to the larger project to survey biodiversity along a disturbance/age gradient. There will be opportunity to contribute to other aspects of project conceptualization. There may be an opportunity for global collaboration to compile/analyse existing datasets of forestry impacts on birds; the project will involve some advanced data handling and statistical analysis.

This PhD project will help develop the candidate’s skills in critical thinking, project management, fieldwork, data management and analysis, writing and communication. It will prepare the student for future careers in research, or with government or non-government land management or conservation agencies.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Sue Baker


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

International applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.


The project is open to domestic (Australia and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from International applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements

Applicants from the following disciplines are encouraged to apply:

  • Ecology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Biological Sciences
  • Environmental Studies
  • Zoology
  • Forest Sciences

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • A good understanding of ecology or conservation biology and interest in contributing to biodiversity conservation
  • Species identification capacity (ability to learn bird species identifications rapidly – good audio-visual memory required)
  • Proficiency with statistical analyses, e.g. in R
  • Ability to both work independently and to collaborate and work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary team, including supervising volunteer field assistants and liaising with land management agencies
  • Excellent written and verbal English and scientific communication skills
  • Fieldwork experience
  • Fit, able, and willing to work in remote field areas, sometimes in difficult conditions and basic living arrangements
  • Current driving license
  • The PhD must be undertaken on a full-time basis

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Spatial analysis skills (e.g. training in GIS) and background in multivariate community analyses
  • Previous publication of research in international peer-refereed journals

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Sue Baker, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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