Fish assemblages at giant clam farms | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Accessibility links

Fish assemblages at giant clam farms

Project background

Giant clams (Tridacninae) have been identified as species suitable for farming by coastal communities in the Pacific because of their role in local diets, potentially lucrative export markets, and chronic overfishing of wild-populations. Routine methods for farming juvenile giant clams have now been developed, and typically involve rearing larvae and spat in a land-based hatchery for before transferring juveniles to ocean-based farming systems.

During the period of ocean-based farming, losses of giant clams can be substantial. Predation by fishes is presumed partly responsible. Yet, surprisingly, little is known about the recruitment of fish assemblages to giant clam farms. Such information is critical for evaluating the threat posed by various fishes to giant clam farming operations.

For this Project, remote underwater video stations (RUVS) were deployed within the Kavieng Harbour (in Papua New Guinea) to survey fishes on giant clam farms and at control sites. The SRS recipient was part of a research team analysing the collected video footage to evaluate changes in the composition of fish assemblages at these farms.


Primary supervisor: Prof. Paul Southgate

Prof. Southgate leads the Tropical Aquaculture research team at USC. Paul’s research focuses on development of sustainable tropical aquaculture industries within the Asia-Pacific region, with emphasis on marine invertebrates (including pearl oysters and other molluscs). Paul has co-edited and co-authored the best-selling undergraduate textbook for Aquaculture (Lucas & Southgate, ‘Aquaculture: Farming Aquatic Animals and Plants’) and the first monograph on the biology and culture of pearl oysters (Southgate & Lucas, ‘The Pearl Oyster’).

Secondary supervisor: Dr Thane Militz

Dr Militz is a postdoctoral scientist within the Tropical Aquaculture research team at USC. Thane’s research focuses on development of farming protocols appropriate for supporting aquaculture production in rural coastal areas of the Pacific and he contributes to several projects in this field.

Summer Research Scholarship recipient: Fergus (Declan) Macleod

External collaborators: National Fisheries College (Papua New Guinea)

The National Fisheries College is a training and education institution specialised in capture fisheries, post-harvest processing, aquaculture, marine resource management, and sustainable development.

Please contact Prof. Paul Southgate via email ( with any questions.

Students will be asked to assist on this project in several ways, with tasks such as:

  • Identification of marine fishes
  • Collection of data from video footage
  • Data management


Deliverables will include

  • Contribution to data collection
  • Contribution to a draft manuscript
  • A final presentation of the work undertaken

This project would suit a student with background understanding of, and an interest in aquaculture, coral reef ecology, giant clams, and data collection/management.

In addition to the general ACPIR SRS eligibility criteria, undergraduate students would preferably be in or entering their 3rd year of study in a relevant field (e.g. marine science / coastal ecology) and have a GPA of 6. Students enrolled in a relevant Honours program are also welcome to apply.


Specific attributes/skills required:

  • Knowledge of fishes that inhabit coral reefs

The student will be interacting with an experienced group of collaborators and external stakeholders, and therefore collegiality, integrity, teamwork and reliability are important attributes for this project. In return, the student will have an opportunity to develop their networks and learn from a range of experienced professionals. The student will be expected to work as part of a team and independently. As the project will use systematic processes, the student should also be able to pay attention to detail, be a critical thinker and show initiative.

Applicants are required to submit a resume and a brief statement outlining their interest in the project and how this fits with their career/research aspirations. Please note that applicants may be invited to take part in an interview as part of the selection process.