PhD project opportunity: developing an acoustic sensor network for post-megafire biodiversity recovery

Brief Project Summary: 

We are now in an era of rapid global environmental change, which is coupled with increases in extreme disturbance events, such as wildfires. The age of mega-fires has begun, with unprecedented burn extents and fire severity already occurring in Europe, North America and Australia. How species and ecosystems will respond to these events are unknown, which is compounded by the lack of long-term biodiversity monitoring across Australia. The solution is to take advantage of the informatics revolution. We are in urgent need to establish a smart sensor network to be our eyes and ears on the ground to aid in post-fire recovery and future disaster planning for fauna at risk. This project aims to build a smart sensor network that incorporates advances in new rapid acoustic data processing methods, such as ecoacoustics and machine learning, to identify species (microbats and birds) and communities at risk of local extinction after the ‘2019/20 Black summer of wildfires’. This study will inform local land managers, who are project stakeholders, of species and communities at risk of local extinction and implement urgent management actions to rescue populations from collapse.

The project has financial support from the WIRES Research Grant Program, WWF, Blue Mountains City Council, Greater Sydney Local Land Services and in-kind support from National Parks and Wildlife.

Your role in the project will be to assist with field survey design and choice of sites, deploy ecoacoustic sensors, download data from sensors at regular intervals, be trained in ecoacoustic workflows for data analysis and writing up of results

Desired background and skills:

  • Ecology – general knowledge of survey design methods
  • Data analysis using R
  • Willingness to conduct field work in forest areas
  • Driving licence

Opportunities for learning skills on the project:

  • Training in the ecology of bats and birds
  • Training in ecoacoustic methods including sensor technologies and workflows for analysis of sound files to identify species of birds and bats
  • Working with industry partners in applied ecological research
  • Experience in publishing and communicating the outcomes of research to a variety of audiences
  • Opportunity to develop your own ideas for research

Project start either late 2022 or beginning of 2023 for three years.

Please email an expression of interest, including CV to Dr Aaron Greenville, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney.

About Aaron Greenville

I'm an Ecologist investigating how ecosystems respond to climate change and the introduction of exotic species.
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