Our lab is enthusiastic about developing new partnerships with government and NGOs who are interested in finding improved ways of managing landscapes for biodiversity conservation.  Contact Don to discuss how your cash investment could leverage a PhD scholarship through Deakin’s industry scholarship program, or a whole research fiesta through the ARC Linkage program.

Post Doctoral

Deakin University offers the Alfred Deakin Postdoctoral Fellowship.

If you are interested in joining our lab as an ADPF (and you have a strong track record with several papers in high-ranking journals; ADPFs are very competitive), please contact me to discuss your ideas for projects.

If you have a great idea on a theme relevant to our lab and you can gather financial support from industry partners, I am happy to discuss developing an ARC Linkage grant.



Supporting PhD students with a scholarship is now a high priority for Deakin University, which offers several types of PhD scholarships.

If you have a first-class honours result, and/or have published a paper, consider applying for a PhD.

Please email me to discuss topics that are currently available, or to suggest an area that interests you and aligns with our labs conservation themes.

Information technology in applied conservation and ecology.

If you have solid background in machine learning and image analysis and would like to contribute to revolutionising the way ecology is done in the field, there are opportunities opening up in cross-disciplinary research. Email me to discuss options.


If you have a great idea that would complement an existing PhD project, please contact me to discuss your ideas.

New Honours Projects for 2021-22

Frog conservation

Frogs have suffered enormous declines around the world due to habitat loss, often associated with agriculture, and the global pandemic disease caused by the chytrid fungus.  Major declines and even extinctions have occurred before scientists or land managers have had time to react because data have often been lacking.  In these projects, the successful applicants will undertake extensive field surveys then use statistical models to discover which environmental covariates explain patterns of occurrence of threatened or declining frogs.  Covariates may include different impacts of humans, such as land clearing and cropping, but also biological covariates that might represent disease risk, such as the presence of the reservoir host Crinia signifera. We will also consider landscape variables, like number of nearby wetlands and amount of native vegetation.  To complete one of these projects you must be willing to work at night in the field, in challenging environmental conditions. You must have a license to drive a manual car. You may be able to use your own car for the project, with costs reimbursed.

Specific projects on offer:

  1. Land-sharing despite intensifying agriculture. In collaboration with the community group Beyond Bolac, this project aims to discover the management regimes and landscape variables that determine where the endangered frog Litoria raniformis is able to survive. Suits mid-year start.
  2. Frogs versus forest management. Pseudophryne semimarmorata is listed as vulnerable in Victoria due to reported declines. In collaboration with the Ecology Centre, this project aims to discover how fire management influences this autumn-breeding frog. Suits February start.

Reconnecting landscapes through the matrix. A test using invertebrates.

Principal Supervisor: Professor Don Driscoll

Principal Supervisor contact details: d.driscoll@deakin.edu.au

Associate Supervisor: Dr Nick Porch nicholas.porch@deakin.edu.au

Associate Supervisor, external: Stephanie Pulsford, PhD Candidate, ANU.

Wildlife movement is critical.  It enables effective foraging within a home range, dispersal to new home ranges and range changes in response to climate change.  However, movement is severely curtailed by habitat loss associated with intensive agriculture. Our project aims to discover if wildlife movement can be improved through productive farmland by altering management within paddocks. By understanding the connectivity value of rotational grazing, fences, linear tree plantings, and addition of course woody debris, we will define new methods for enhancing ecological sustainability in production landscapes. Without this knowledge, opportunities for increasing connectivity may be foregone.

This project will involve converting a large invertebrate collection into data in Nick’s lab, undertaking statistical analysis with the close guidance of Don and Stephanie, then writing up the project with input from all supervisors.  For the right student, this project has the potential to lead to one or more publications, and a great early start to your career.


*Almost all of our projects require driving manual four-wheel drives.  You must have a licence to drive a manual vehicle to take on a field project.