The nutrition of cannibalism

The nutrition of cannibalism: Contribution to growth and mitigation strategies in crustacean aquaculture.

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement



$31,500pa for 3.5 years

About the research project

The prevalence of cannibalistic behaviours is recognized as one of the most significant limiting factors in the culture productivity of many commercially important crustaceans, including that for spiny lobsters. Cannibalism among crustaceans is a complex behaviour involving various biotic and abiotic factors including availability of refuge, social hierarchies, nutritional resources, and communication pathways. This project will focus on nutritional components associated with cannibalism with the aim of defining its contrition to growth in aquaculture and for developing mitigation strategies to limit its impact on culture productivity. Recent research at IMAS has shown that cannibalism during spiny lobster "P. ornatus" culture occurs as an act of aggression resulting in the killing and consumption of the victim when vulnerable during the process of ecdysis (moulting). The occurrence of cannibalism consistently occurs as a factor of moulting frequency resulting in increased occurrence in fastest-growing populations. Importantly, findings also suggest that cannibalism events are pre-determined and likely triggered by water-borne chemical cues released by the victim during the process of moult preparation and ecdysis. This project will first focus on the conundrum relating to the relationship between growth rate and cannibalism to disentangle the influence of con-specific nutrient intake on lobster growth performance. This research will involve in-depth nutritional and biochemical analysis with the aim of identifying gross- or micro-nutrient deficiencies which may drive the need for cannibalism. The project will then consider the impacts of feed supplementations with the aim of limiting cannibalism. This research may consider several avenues of investigation including; supplementation of potential limiting nutrients, dietary additives that may act as antagonists to chemical cues of cannibalism, and neurotransmitter precursors that may suppress aggressive behaviours.

Primary Supervisor

Meet AProf Quinn Fitzgibbon


The successful applicant will receive a scholarship which 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.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

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:

  • Graduates with a strong academic record (e.g. BSc Hons, MSc or equivalent qualifications demonstrated by publication record) in aquaculture, ecology, marine biology, molecular biology and zoology or similar

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Research experience or undergraduate training in aquaculture, physiology, and/or nutrition
  • Demonstrated experience in aquaculture growth or feeding experiments and laboratory biochemical analysis
  • Keen interest in and desire for a career in aquaculture and/or marine ecology

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, AProf Quinn Fitzgibbon 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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