Resilience of coastal ecosystems

Vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity of coastal ecosystems

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023


Hobart, Launceston

Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Coastal ecosystems such as beaches, mangroves and salt marshes are distinctive communities with immense natural and socio-economic values. Occurring in sheltered coastal areas they suffer from direct human impacts as well as current and future sea-level rise exposure. This project assesses the vulnerability or resilience of these distinctive coastal systems to climate change, and investigates adaptation capacity and outcomes.

Vulnerability or resilience assessment with respect to climate change impacts integrates biotic and abiotic factors along with human management components. Exposure threats are evaluated relative to sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Research methods include determining ecosystem health, adjacent ecosystem resilience, the extent and effects of human impacts, and the environmental conditions of different coastal settings. The application of GIS is used to assess spatial coverage of ecosystems and changes over time, indicating ecosystem sensitivity. Elevation of study sites is also surveyed, indicating both vulnerability and adaptive capacity. Research outcomes will foster and enable coastal resilience for the multitude of services they provide.

Governments and communities have invested large amounts of project funds and efforts in adaptation to climate change. This research project has capacity to investigate the long-term effectiveness of these investments in improvement of resilience, reduction of vulnerability, and effectiveness of the adaptation options.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Associate Professor Joanna Ellison


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $31,500 per annum (2023 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

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:

  • Undergraduate degree and Honours/Masters in geography or related discipline
  • Surveying and GIS capability or capacity to learn
  • Evidence of ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent communication skills, high level of proficiency in English
  • Ability to undertake field work in remote locations

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, Associate Professor Joanna Ellison to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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