First listed on: 17 June 2020


Ref 1384/20 Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Koala Physiological Ecology and Distribution Modelling, Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment 

The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment is seeking a Postdoctoral Research Fellow to focus on research related to the effects of ambient temperature on koala feeding behaviour and nutrition, and energy and water balance, and incorporate findings into a mechanistic species distribution model.

The overall project seeks to identify how heat can constrain koalas’ diet selection by modifying the demand for macronutrients and water, and reducing their capacity to tolerate plant toxins. Along with improved estimates of spatial and temporal variation in leaf moisture content, the observed parameters will inform the development of an improved bioenergetic model of koala distributions throughout NSW. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will undertake research with captive koalas and with wild koalas in the field, fitted with a variety of biologging and other devices, including GPS, heart rate, body temperature and acoustic recorders. The timing and duration of feeding and other behaviours will be closely monitored, with consideration given to weather conditions including the fine-scale conditions experienced by individual koalas, water content and nutritional and secondary chemical properties of the foliage of individual trees, and koala body temperature. Energy intake and expenditure will be monitored continuously. Field work will be undertaken in collaboration with Ph.D. students.

In this position you will work closely with Western Sydney University and external project partners to incorporate insights and parameters acquired from the project’s field component into a state-of-the art bioenergetic/mechanistic species distribution model, enabling koala distributions and climate refugia to be predicted and mapped through a range of climate and weather scenarios. You will have expertise in field studies of wild vertebrates and a demonstrated understanding of relevant phyiological principles, and demonstrated experience and skills in species distribution modelling.

Working at Western Sydney University means you’ll be part of an organisation that’s ranked in the top 2% of universities worldwide and is a research leader – with 85% of the University’s research being at or above world standard. We understand the key to your success is unlocking your true potential – just as we do with our students. Our 3,000 staff members work together to enable a dynamic, inclusive and innovative culture that is distinctly research-driven and student-centred. The University is deeply embedded in the community and the region we serve, which is Australia’s fastest growing economy and one of the most culturally diverse areas in Australia. Our 10 campuses include a hybrid network of technology-infused vertical CBD campuses and more traditional campuses across Western Sydney. We take pride in challenging the traditional notion of what a university ‘should’ be and are dedicated to ensuring our 45,000 students enjoy the best and most dynamic learning experience possible. From our forward-focused reworking of our teaching methodologies to connecting our learning hubs with industry, we are equipping our students with real-world learning experiences and future employment. With more than 180,000 highly-respected alumni – including 20,000 working across 128 countries – we are ranked the highest university in NSW for graduate employer satisfaction. Join us as we shape the future of Western Sydney.

This is a full-time, fixed-term position for 2.5 years based at Hawkesbury Campus.

For further information, please refer to the Position Description.


To be eligible for this position you must provide evidence of your fulltime Working Rights in Australian at time of application.

Remuneration Package: Level A $96,777 to $116,921 p.a. (comprising Salary $81,778 to $98,800 p.a., plus Superannuation and Leave Loading).

Position Enquiries: Dr Ben Moore, (02) 4570 1384 or email

Closing Date: 8:30pm, Thursday 16 July 2020

Full details on how to apply for these positions can be found at our website. Western Sydney University values workplace diversity.

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