Volunteer at HIE


The Institute's volunteering program, 'Helping Hands', gives students a way to experience science and gain skills with a flexible approach...

Building a career starts before you graduate. A successful launch into a satisfying career in the environmental sciences needs the right contacts, combined with real, hands-on experience so you can get going straight away.

Consider volunteering while you study - good students and good volunteers are what employers look for.

Current opportunities for which we seek volunteers are:

Cultural Evolution In The Superb Lyrebird - Matthew Chaumont


  • Volunteer positions: 1
  • Location: Central and Southern Tasmania
  • Duration: 2-3 months; full-time
  • Application deadline: 15th April 2019

Cultural evolution has been studied in human populations, primates, cetaceans, and some birds. Yet relatively few studies have taken place in natural systems. The Superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae) is a famous vocal mimic, able to imitate a variety of other species and replicate complex sounds. Lyrebirds occupy spatiotemporally diverse habitat, their dispersal is often limited, and song repertoires, which include a substantial learned component, vary geographically.

They are also long-lived ~30 years and have been shown to improve mimicry overtime. This makes the lyrebird a compelling animal model for the study of social-transmission of behavioural phenotypes through space (modes) and time (tempos). To examine the mechanisms of cultural evolution this project will take advantage of the introduction of the lyrebird into Tasmania (c1934), where it is not native. There, by collecting audio-visual, ecological, and genetic data from the translocated population, we can make comparisons with the source population and quantify cultural evolutionary processes in an enigmatic Australian songbird.

Field work will be based in the central and southern ranges of Tasmania. The ecosystem is a world class destination for biologists and adventurers alike, the work will require lots of walking in cold and rough conditions, and a Wallacean like tenacity for field research. The tasks of the volunteers involves helping with locating lyrebirds and assisting with the collection of audio-visual, ecological, and genetic data.

This project is a subsidiary of the overreaching NSF-funded research program entitled “Tempo and modes of cultural evolution in the complex display of the superb lyrebird” (see program details)


  • Must be enthusiastic and have a keen interest in wild life research.
  • Must have a good level of fitness and be able to walk long distances in sometimes difficult terrain.
  • Must be willing to work early mornings and long hours
  • Previous field experience is desirable
  • Experience with acoustic ecology is desirable

How To Apply

For application details please contact: Matt Chaumont at https://www.animalecologylab.org/matthew-chaumont.html or on email 13192844@student.westernsydney.edu.au

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