Cane toads have spread to occupy more than 1.6 million square kilometres of Australia. They have a massive impact on native predator species, who are fatally poisoned when toads arrive in an area. Toads have recently colonised the Kimberley and they continue to spread. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to stop the toad invasion just south of Broome. We can effect this by managing pastoral infrastructure such that it is not available to toads, creating a waterless barrier against which the toad invasion should stop. Do this, and we potentially keep toads out of 27 million hectares of Western Australia.

While the basic idea is well researched, we are now moving into implementation phase, and we need to explore all possibilities. One possibility is that toads may be able to survive down goanna and bilby burrows and so continue to spread. This project examines the possibility that toads might be able to find and use burrows to survive over the dry season in northern Australia.

There is a once in a lifetime opportunity to stop the toad invasion just south of Broome, by controlling access to artificial waterpoints.


This project will examine the use of burrows by toads and assess the rate at which toads find burrows and their capacity to survive in burrows.


  1. Examine toad survival in burrows over the dry season
  2. Quantify the degree to which burrows are occupied by toads in toad-invaded areas.


This project will work with government partners and Indigenous landowners towards understanding the capacity for toads to survive down burrows. Results will immediately inform the design of the Toad Containment Zone, and contribute to keeping cane toads out of the Pilbara and areas further south in Western Australia.

Candidate growth and outputs

The candidate will gain field experience in tropical Australia. They will develop networks with Indigenous and government partners. The candidate will also gain valuable experience with sampling design, data analysis, and reporting

How to apply

Candidates must have:

  • A strong track record in undergraduate studies;
  • A background or keen interest in ecology or conservation.

Send enquiries to Ben Phillips.