Program: The South West Marine Research Program is a long-term, monitoring project on the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of South West Australia. The program is based in Bunbury (South of Perth in Western Australia) and is a collaboration between Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit and numerous industry and non-profit partners. Previous research focused on dolphin population dynamics, abundance, social structure, habitat use, conservation, genetic and foraging ecology http://mucru.org/research-projects/south-west-marine-researchprogram/
PhD Outline: Here, I am seeking THREE research volunteers assist in collecting data for my PhD, from the 8th of June till the 17th of September 2017. The project explores the ecological consequences and socio-economic drivers of a food provisioning program of free-ranging bottlenose dolphins in Bunbury, Western Australia. The feeding is conducted under a state license by Dolphin Discovery Center as part of their touristic offer. I examine both the short- and long-term ecological consequences of food provisioning at both the individual and population level. Specifically, the project aims to determine potential effects of food provisioning on dolphin behavioral budgets, maternal care, home range sizes, reproductive success and social dynamics. Moreover, the project explores the satisfaction level and attitude towards food provisioning of staff and visitors. Ecological and socio-economic consequences of food provisioning will then inform management planning. Data on dolphin behavior are collected from boat and from the beach where the food provisioning takes place. Additionally, questionnaires will be distributed to the visitors and staff of the Dolphin Discovery Centre. This experience will be most useful to students or anyone wishing to pursue a career in behavioral ecology, conservation and social science or marine science.
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit, South West Marine Research Program office based at the Dolphin Discovery Centre in Bunbury. http://www.dolphindiscovery.com.au/
Field: Behavioural data collection, spotting wildlife, boat driving, social science, photo identification
Office: Data entry, fin matching, project organization. Computer programs used for data are: FinBase, ACDSee, Microsoft Access, Excel and Word.
Assistants should be adaptable and patient as fieldwork is highly weather dependent. Fieldwork will vary between weekdays and weekends and can be long hours and on consecutive days.
1. Enrolled in or completed a degree in biology, marine science, animal behaviour or a related field.
2. Previous field experience with wildlife (behavioural field data collection, photoidentification).
3. Boating experience.
4. Be enthusiastic, team oriented and have a positive attitude as well as a genuine interest in wildlife science.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide monetary compensation or living provisions and research assistants will be responsible for their own travel to Western Australia and living expenses. Please note, the Bunbury backpackers and the Rosa Hotel provide good discounts for volunteers and research assistants of the Dolphin Discovery Centre. Moreover, additional help in finding shared accommodation can be provided.
If you are interested in volunteering or interning, please provide a short CV and a cover letter to the attention of firstname.lastname@example.org.
Murdoch Cetacean Research Unit
Murdoch Cetacean Research Unit