Platypus PhD offer - towards a management framework for improving the resilience of platypus populations. 

The Platypus Conservation Initiative at the Centre for Ecosystem Science (UNSW) is seeking a passionate student for an exciting and important project in collaboration with Taronga Zoo.
Platypuses are an iconic Australia mammal, facing ongoing threats across their range. Many platypus populations are in decline on account of a range of threats including habitat destruction and river degradation which are compounded by Australia’s extreme weather events such as bushfires and droughts. Emergency interventions, including rescue and translocations, are likely to become a priority conservation strategy under future extreme events, requiring improved understanding of habitat thresholds. 


1. Characterize rates of habitat decline due to drying rivers and other extreme weather events, in the context of existing threats like river flow regulation, invasive species, and habitat fragmentation.

2. Identify indicators of habitat condition and tolerance thresholds critical for platypus survival and population viability in river ecosystems.

3. Develop a management framework for platypus populations during extreme weather events, providing guidelines for translocation and rescue efforts, to support conservation actions crucial for the platypus's survival.


This project will have a significant field work component, focusing on platypus population inhabiting western flowing rivers in NSW and at Taronga Western Plains Zoo. The project will quantify spatiotemporal variation in habitat condition and quantify the interactions between habitat variables and threats in relation to metrics of platypus population viability and resilience (demographics, survival, recruitment, movements, and genetics). The project will employ a diverse set of techniques, including mark-recapture surveys of populations, environmental DNA sampling, tracking of movements and habitat use using radio-tracking, and evaluating the genetic composition and diversity of populations. The project will extend over three years and offer monitoring platypus responses to a range of climatic conditions expected to unfurl during this time. 

Student benefits

  • Work with one of the most unique mammals on earth.
  • Be part of the leading Centre for Ecosystem Science and collaborate with a experts at UNSW and Taronga Conservation Society.
  • Gain extensive experience in a range of field methods during platypus surveys, including anaesthesia techniques, mark-recapture, radio-tracking, and acoustic telemetry.
  • Develop excellent quantitative and statistical skills required to analyse collected data.
  • Write papers for peer-reviewed publications and opportunities to present research at conferences. 

Application & Contact

To learn more about this project contact Dr Tahneal Hawke ( and Dr Gilad Bino ( To apply, please send us your CV and a few sentences about why you’re interested and why you would be a good fit for this project.  Applications close 1st April 2024. This project is for term 3 enrolment at UNSW, Sydney, beginning 9th September 2024. Field work will commence within a few weeks of enrolment.