Fisheries ecology and oceanography to inform management of the western rock lobster

Uncovering the ways habitat change affects the Western Rock Lobster

The iconic western rock lobster, Panulirus cygnus, supports both a popular recreational fishery and Australia's most valuable single species commercial fishery. The Western Rock Lobster Council (WRLC) and Fisheries Research Development Corporation have funded The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development-Fisheries (DPIRD) to investigate an area at the centre of the fishery with unusually low lobster abundance. Two joint projects between UWA, DPIRD-Fisheries and WRLC are currently being offered:

Fisheries/benthic ecology:

Western rock lobster have been shown to be habitat specific, and it is thought that a change in habitats may be a cause of the reported reduction in catch rate at the centre of the fishery. A project is proposed to repeat sampling conducted in the region during late 1980's in the region and investigate linkages to rock lobster life-history dynamics and productivity.

The supervisory panel will include Dr Thomas Wernberg and Dr Tim Langlois of UWA, and Dr Simon de Lestang of the DPIRD-Fisheries.


A project is proposed to conduct a broad-scale assessment of the relationship between water movement and the spatial distribution of post-larval lobster settlement using 40-plus years of data ranging spatially between Cape Mentelle and Kalbarri. In addition, a fine-scale assessment of the relationship between water movement and the spatial and temporal variation in post-larval lobster settlement, focussed in the centre of the fishery between Jurien and Dongara, will take advantage of modern finer scale data.

The supervisory panel will include Professor Chari Pattiaratchi and Dr Tim Langlois of UWA, and Dr Simon de Lestang of the DPIRD-Fisheries.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Suggested readings

Research team leader: Dr Tim Langlois

I am a Lecturer in marine ecology and statistics within the School of Biological Sciences and the UWA Oceans Institute. My own research included fisheries, marine conservation, spatial management and climate change impacts with a focus of providing information to improve the management of our coastal ecosystems. I have a large amount of experience with stereo-video methods for survey fish, sub-tidal surveys of lobster and invertebrates and building global data sets to enable synthesis.

How to apply

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Candidates for these projects will be located in the Indian Ocean Marine Research Centre, where they will work as part of a diverse team of researchers and postgraduate students.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • A strong academic record, quantitative statistical skills, experience with scientific diving and/or experience with oceanographic modelling will be advantageous for the project
  • Candidates with skills and experience matching the proposed work will be favoured
  • Applicants must have excellent spoken and written English skills

Prospective candidates should send a short CV with two referee contacts and cover letter, briefly outlining their motivations for pursuing either of the PhD research themes. For the fisheries/benthic ecology project contact Dr Tim Langlois. For the oceanography project contact Professor Chari Pattiaratchi.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an application. Different application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


Domestic students

All domestic students may apply for Research Training Program and University Postgraduate Awards (UPA) scholarships

International students

A range of scholarships are available from international organisations and governments. The full list, organised by country, is available on the Future Students website.

In addition, all international students may apply for International Research Training Program scholarships.

Indigenous students
Indigenous students are encouraged to apply for Indigenous Postgraduate Research Supplementary Scholarships.
Forrest Foundation scholarships
All international and Australian students who wish to study towards the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at The University of Western Australia may apply for Forrest Scholarships.