Intertidal Habitats of the Pilbara Coast: Where? What? When?

Spatial Modelling marine and intertidal communities in the salt flats of the Pilbara Coast


Coastal salt flats are the associated habitat and fauna that they comprise are understudied, yet cover an expansive area of the Pilbara coast, and in arid regions globally.

The intertidal environment is highly dynamic due its location at the air-land-sea interface. The habitats that occur here, and the fauna that inhabit them are often highly adapted and living at their metabolic and physiological limitations, particularly so in arid regions across the globe. More recently, the vulnerability of these environments is heightened by climate change and human development on the coast.

The intertidal region of the Exmouth Gulf, and more broadly Pilbara region is characterised by the occurrence of coastal high intertidal salt flats.

This project will develop a greater understanding of the coastal salt flats, the habitat and fauna that comprise them through a spatial modelling approach.

Project goals:

  • Determine the role of spatial modelling in habitat dynamics of the coastal salt flat
  • Understand temporal and spatial habitat and fauna interactions using spatial modelling and field data

The successful student will collect field data to validate and model the spatial extent, and variability in salt flat /intertidal habitats. They would model the distribution at various spatial and temporal scales using spatial and remote sensing methods.

Suggested readings


Research team leader: Dr Sharyn Hickey

My research interests focus on geographical elements of environmental systems, and how spatial and temporal models can examine environmental change and drivers of change. Particularly, investigating coastal and marine changes in habitat through Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing data.

This project will be co-supervised by Associate Professor Ruth Reef. Ruth leads the Coastal Research Group at the School of Earth Atmosphere and Environment at Monash University.



This project will work with a number of scientists as part of a large multi-disciplinary, and cross-institutional project.


  How to Apply 

Check criteria
  • To be accepted into the Doctor of Philosophy, an applicant must demonstrate they have sufficient background experience in independent supervised research to successfully complete, and provide evidence of English language proficiency
  • Requirements specific to this project:
    • Experience and knowledge in remote sensing and spatial ecology
    • English language competence
Submit enquiry to research team leader 
  • Contact the research team leader by submitting an Expression of Interest form via the button below
  • After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, contact to proceed with your application


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.

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