Ecologist, Arnhem Rock Skink Project


Territory Natural Resource Management


Darwin, NT

Salary etc:

$84,000 - $90,000 p.a. negotiable depending on experience + 6 weeks annual leave

Territory Natural Resource Management (TNRM) is a not-for-profit organisation. We are the custodian of the NT Natural Resource Management (NRM) Plan, and work to advance strategic and sustainable natural resource management to protect the NT's environmental, production and cultural assets for the future. We develop and deliver NRM and threatened species projects and activities across the Northern Territory in partnership with landholders, community groups, organisations, and government.

We are looking for a motivated all-rounder ecologist to join our team to lead a two-year project for the Arnhem rock skink (Bellatorias obiri) across the Arnhem sandstone plateau. The Arnhem rock skink is listed as Endangered under the EPBC Act and has been identified as one of Australia's vertebrate species at most risk of extinction. It is included on Australia's list of 110 priority species as part of the Australian Government's Threatened Species Strategy. Details can be found on the link below about the previous collaborative TNRM-led Arnhem rock skink project which developed and validated non-invasive methods to detect the species and increased our knowledge of their occurrence five-fold.

Working within the TNRM threatened species team and in collaboration with personnel from multiple institutions, including Traditional Owners and First Nations rangers, you will deliver on a range of high-priority objectives to build on the previous project and improve the understanding of the current distribution and abundance of the species, including population and genetic health, and creating a species distribution model. The information gained from this project will address key knowledge gaps on its ecology, preferred habitats, and threatening processes and help inform conservation activities.

The key objectives of the role are to:

  • Work with Traditional Owners, ranger groups, Indigenous organisations, National Parks staff, and university researchers to prioritse survey areas founded on spatial and habitat mapping, previous sightings, and logistically and culturally accessible areas.
  • Coordinate and lead widespread and comprehensive camera trapping/remote camera surveys using the methodology developed in the previous project in new and historical locations, and assess genetic health and population size through complementary live trapping at known locations.
  • Provide abundance estimates that can inform an ongoing population trajectory monitoring program.
  • Develop an informative species distribution model to guide future survey efforts, investigate potential threats, and inform conservation strategies.
  • Produce a detailed report to inform ongoing monitoring programs and conservation efforts and provide baseline distribution and genetic information for the species.

The position will be based with Territory Natural Resource Management in Darwin, with regular field trips to perform field surveys.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Communicating and working with Traditional Custodians and their representative groups across the Arnhem Plateau in a culturally-sensitive way.
  • Liaising and working with researchers and external stakeholders to develop, implement, and report on targeted surveys of the Arnhem rock skink.
  • Coordinating the preparation and implementation of field trips, involving extended camping in remote locations, and organising and supervision of participants while adhering to WHS requirements. Specific duties will include:
    • Reptile surveys using specific camera trapping methods and live trapping.
    • Image analysis to identify fauna, specifically Arnhem rock skink site occupancy and activity patterns.
    • Working in very rugged terrain (on foot) and hot/humid conditions to access and survey sampling sites, or deploy/retrieve equipment.
    • Safe capture and handling of wildlife including the collection of tissue samples of the target species.
  • Preparing data collected as part of the project and undertaking statistical analysis.
  • Preparing progress reports for contractual funding obligations and a final report in the form of a management plan to improve conservation advice for the species.

Skills and capabilities:

  • Excellent communication and people skills to enable effective engagement and collaboration, and ability to support people from diverse backgrounds to work together, which is the key to the success of this project.
  • Demonstrated capacity to coordinate, organise and undertake remote field work safely and effectively including the supervision of other sometimes inexperienced personnel, with a focus on upholding WHS policies and procedures.
  • Demonstrated experience in fauna surveys, and the collection and management of biological data, with a good understanding of contemporary sampling methods (e.g., motion sensor cameras, live trapping, genetic sampling).
  • Strong data management skills including data collection (using various apps), data entry, cleaning, and statistical analyses to interpret the data and inform management.
  • Ability to support the development, delivery, evaluation and reporting of the project to meet funding and contractual requirements.
  • A high level of fitness for working in rugged terrain and in sometimes extreme climatic conditions.

Mandatory qualifications:

  • Relevant Bachelor's degree in science or an equivalent field, and experience in environmental or natural resource management.
  • Australian residency with current manual drivers licence.
  • Hold, or be able to acquire, a valid senior first aid qualification.


  • Post-graduate degree.
  • Experience working in northern Australia with First Nations people.
  • Experience with reptiles.

Date published: