Thomas Newsome

Home » Student Opportunities

Student Opportunities

Projects on Offer

We welcome unsolicited proposals from students who have ideas for honours, masters, or PhD projects. Please ensure you have thought about feasibility and funding.

We are currently seeking related honours, Masters and PhD students to work on the below project.

We are also looking for students to explore the factors affecting the diversity and abundance of scavenging insect assemblages, and to explore the longer term impacts of carcasses on insect community assemblages.

All projects on offer are broadly linked to ProjectOzScav – please see the following post for a recent update: ProjectOzScav

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please send your CV to

The Ecological Effects of Animal Mass Mortality Events

Animal mass mortality events (AMMEs) involve the rapid, catastrophic die-off of organisms. These events can produce many of tons of dead biomass in a single event, and they appear to be on the rise globally. In the past few years, Australia has witnessed a number of AMMEs, including the death of a million fish in the Murray Darling Basin due to algal blooms, thousands of cattle dying after floods in Queensland, the deaths of feral horses in central Australia from drought, and thousands of flying foxes dying from heat stress in New South Wales and Queensland. Humans also effectively simulate AMMEs when they undertake large scale culling of overabundant species. But while the causes of these events are known (e.g. poor water quality, drowning, drought, heat, and direct killing), we know very little about the consequences of AMMEs for ecosystems. For example: can vertebrate and invertebrate scavenger assemblages consume and disperse the vast quantities of carcasses that become available? Do carcasses attract and get scavenged by pest species? Do unconsumed carcasses result in unusual and excessive nutrient loads in surrounding areas, and does this affect plant growth, weed invasion, or have cascading effects on herbivore grazers? This project will answer these fundamental questions by simulating and monitoring AMMEs in the field. A key focus of the project will be the responses by scavengers including dingoes, red foxes, feral pigs, eagles, ravens, blowflies, and European wasps.

DggmVg8UcAAiPsM.jpg large

The project has financial support from the Hermon Slade Foundation and in-kind support from a major NSW Environment Trust project led by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The field work will be in and around Kosciuszko National Park, and students will work with local land managers and NSW Government Departments, including NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and South East Local Land Services. Students will have an opportunity to work with colleagues in southern USA replicating similar experiments in systems where vultures and coyotes are the dominant scavengers. Support will also be provided from Dr. Philip Barton at Australian National University, Prof. Richard Duncan at University of Canberra, and Dr. Alex Carthey at Macquarie University.

Australian candidates must be competitive to receive funding under the Research Training Program. 

A variety of scholarships are available for international students.

Students will be based at The University of Sydney in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences Ecology, Evolution and Environment Cluster, within the Global Ecology Lab

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please contact Dr. Thomas Newsome at

The expression of interest should include a cover letter and CV. Please include details of your degrees (including average marks), work and research experience, field experience in remote locations, publications, and ability to use programs like GIS, and statistical packages like R. You must have a current manual drivers license.

Further details on enrollment at The University of Sydney can be found below:

How to apply

Entry requirements

%d bloggers like this: