Physiology, Behaviour and Ecology of Carnivorous Arthropods


A range of opportunities are available to study the physiology, behaviour and ecology of carnivorous arthropods (e.g., insects and spiders).


Dr Shawn Wilder

Research Location

School of Biological Sciences

Program Type



My research program examines the integrative biology of carnivorous arthropods.  I am interested in examining how the physiology of carnivores affects their behaviour (e.g., prey choice) and the consequences that this has for community and ecosystem dynamics.  Relatively little is known about the nutritional ecology of carnivores; yet, nutrition has the potential for providing a mechanistic framework for predicting and modelling how carnivores interact with other members of ecological communities. 

Many potential questions can be addressed in this research and I look forward to working with students to design projects that they find most interesting.  In addition to integrating among fields, projects will also integrate work in both the laboratory (where things can be rigorously controlled) and the field (to examine how effects observed in the laboratory apply to conditions in the field).  An overview of these ideas and some potential questions are available in: Wilder (2011) Spider nutrition: an integrative perspective.  Advances in Insect Physiology 40:87-136. 

The study organisms to be used for this research are also flexible and could include spiders or carnivorous insects.  Much of my research examines spiders and there are a wide range of exciting and abundant spiders that can be studied including: orb-weaving spiders, red back spiders, net-casting spiders, wolf spiders and jumping spiders.

If you have an interest in this project or related ideas, please feel free to contact me.  For further information about me, see my profile page or my personal website (

Additional Information

The scope of this project can be adapted for honours or Ph.D. projects.  Students applying for a Ph.D. project should have completed or be in the process of completing honours or a research-based Masters of Science.  Students who have published or are in the process of publishing peer-reviewed articles are more competitive for Postgraduate Scholarships.

The University of Sydney is an exciting location for this research.  I have recently developed a laboratory technique that allow for rigorous manipulations of the nutrient content of live prey items to facilitate laboratory studies.  This techniques make it possible to answer questions that previously could not be addressed.  In addition, Sydney and Australia in general have a large amount of natural parkland and exciting arthropod communities, which facilitates field studies.  There are many potential opportunities for travel with this project, both locally or to other parts of Australia.

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physiology, animal behaviour, ecology, nutrition, diet, insect, spider

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1480

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