Trematode Taxonomy PhD Scholarship

Taxonomy, systematics and biogeography of endoparasitic trematode flatworms in fishes at Ningaloo Reef

Opportunity for a PhD student to be involved with a new line of enquiry at Murdoch University’s Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Ecosystems (Harry Butler Institute) investigating biodiversity and biogeography of endoparasitic trematode flatworms exploiting marine fishes in Western Australian waters, especially at Ningaloo Reef. The successful candidate will be enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) at Murdoch University under the supervision of Dr Storm Martin and Prof. Alan Lymbery.

The Trematoda is a diverse group of parasitic flatworms which exploit virtually all lineages of vertebrates as sexual adults, as well as varied invertebrate intermediate hosts in their complex lifecycles. For trematodes in fishes, Queensland waters are among the best studied and perhaps the best understood worldwide. By comparison, Western Australia presents a veritable frontier for studying marine trematode biodiversity; the fauna here is poorly known and has been scarcely investigated. A new research initiative at Murdoch University seeks to rapidly survey, identify and discover trematode fauna in tropical Western Australian waters, by leveraging decades of sustained investigation and understanding from Queensland, and in particular by generating genetic barcode data for all species encountered in Western Australia and comparing these data against the extensive genetic library amassed in Queensland. As a part of this research initiative, the available PhD project will focus in depth on one of many trematode families represented in marine fishes of Western Australia

The objectives of this project are to:

  • Survey marine fishes in Western Australian waters for trematodes of the focal family, especially at Ningaloo Reef.
  • Apply integrated genetic and morphological analyses to identify encountered species and discover, distinguish and formally describe species new to science.
  • Use molecular based phylogenetic analyses to resolve systematic problems within the focal family and propose new classification hypotheses.
  • Use material and data from collaborators in Queensland to perform biogeographic study of the focal family between the Indian and Pacific coasts of Australia.

  • Study levelPhD
    Funding bodyMurdoch University (contribution to successful ABRS application)
    Duration3.5 years starting in October 2021

    Honours (preferably First Class) or equivalent.

    Applicants should have an interest in taxonomy, biodiversity and biogeography, value attention to detail, work well independently and collaboratively, be highly motivated, and possess strong scientific writing skills. Any interest in parasitology, the marine environment and/or marine fishes is desirable.

    This project will involve field work in the marine environment. Although no experience or ability is required, the project will be best suited to an applicant willing to participate in line fishing, spearfishing and boating, and who is prepared to be in and on the water. Applicants should be willing to dissect fishes.

    Apply by30 July 2021
    To apply

    Submit your application by email to Dr Storm Martin (

    Please attach a single PDF file that contains an explanation of why you are interested in the project, curriculum vitae, academic transcripts and the names and contact information of 2 references.

    The subject line should read Trematode Taxonomy PhD scholarship.


    Dr Storm Martin (
    Prof Alan Lymbery (