The ecology and evolution of dynamic colour signalling

The ecology and evolution of dynamic colour signalling

Programs Available


Reference Number


Opening Date

01 Jan 2020 12am AEDT 

Closing Date

30 Apr 2020 11pm AEST 

Scholarship available to



Many animals communicate using vivid colour signals that appear shiny, metallic or iridescent. These signals arise from innovative surface nanostructures that showcase the wonder of adaptive evolution. Little is however known about how they are viewed and perceived, what information they communicate, and how they are controlled genetically. This project will explore one or more of these questions using laboratory-tractable organisms such as tropical butterflies and fishes.

You will be guided to develop and pursue a distinctive, integrative doctoral research program in the evolutionary ecology of iridescent colour signalling. Possible components of your program span the measurement and manipulation of behaviour, genetic breeding experiments, experimental evolution, phylogenetic comparative analyses, and the physiology of visual signal reception. There are opportunities for fieldwork in tropical Australia and for the use of innovative technology such as custom-engineered drones to visualize how animals respond to colour signals in their environment. You will gain skills and expertise with broad applicability and discover knowledge that may inform communication in human society.

Your project will embed within a dynamic research group aligned with the Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellowship program of Associate Professor Darrell Kemp (Macquarie University). You will be co-supervised by Dr. Tom White (University of Sydney) and additional expert collaborators according to project direction.

Sydney is a vibrant global power city rated in the world’s top-ten for economy, research and development, cultural interaction, live-ability, environment, and accessibility. Macquarie University is a major research-based institution situated in the heart of Sydney’s high technology precinct. It is considered one of Australia’s best universities and is rated among the top 1% of universities globally. Macquarie’s department of Biological Sciences provides an outstanding environment for the study of whole-organism biology and boasts world-leading strengths in all disciplines relevant to this position.

This project must begin prior to July 2020.  Applicants should email A/Prof Kemp in the first instance ( with an expression of interest that includes a recent curriculum vitae, copies of academic transcripts and a brief statement of research interest. Please do this at any time prior to the closing date, as this position may be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is identified.


This scholarship is available to eligible candidates to undertake a PhD (3-year) program.

Scholarship Components

The scholarship is comprised of a Tuition Fee Offset and a Living Allowance Stipend. The value and tenure of the scholarship is a “MQRES” full-time stipend rate of $28,092 per annum (in 2020 tax exempt - indexed annually).

Contact Details

Name: A/Prof Darrell Kemp
Phone: 02-9850-8355

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