I’ve finally handed in my PhD (just in time before bub arrives!) and what a wonderful 4 years it’s been. There are so many people I would like to thank, but I’ve posted the acknowledgements from my thesis here in order to give special mention to those who helped me along the way.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my PhD. I have had fantastic experiences and gained so many important skills, and this is primarily due to all of the people below that I would like to thank for making the last 4 years such an enjoyable experience.
Firstly I would like to thank my two supervisors, Dieter Hochuli and Shawn Wilder. Dieter your lab has been such a supporting and engaging environment that has encouraged me to think outside the box and develop a wide range of skills. It has been a wonderful place to work. Thank you for always helping me to conceptualise the big picture and to develop a critical analysis of my work and that of others. Under your guidance I have developed a strong foundation in urban ecology and gained the confidence to communicate as a professional scientist. Shawn your calm feedback and ability to rehash my ideas into coherent hypotheses meant that I left every chat we had with a sense of purpose, and your advice was always spot on. Also, I am very grateful for your dedication towards helping me make the most of my PhD, especially in facilitating my research trip to Germany. Thank you both for your support and for giving me the freedom to follow my own interests while guiding my ideas towards a coherent thesis.
Also a huge thanks to Caragh, your patience and clear instruction helped me achieve things (like a working knowledge of ArcGIS and R!) that I could never have done on my own. This immeasurably improved both my current and, I hope, my future research. Your advice and presence in the lab has been invaluable. I would also like to thank everyone at the Behaviour lab in Hamburg, in particular Jutta for making me so welcome and contributing towards one of the most enjoyable experiments of my PhD. Also thanks to Steffi for hosting me and helping me settle in to life in Germany, and to Janus for collecting spiders for me and encouraging me out to lunch every day.
I would also like to thank all the members of the Hochuli lab that I’ve worked with over the years, you have all been fantastic colleagues and friends, making my time in the office fun, engaging and thought provoking. Fran you’ve been my role model since I first stepped into the Hochuli lab and I have learnt so much from you, from writing style, statistics and networking to teaching and marking tips. I hope we will be conference buddies for many years to come! Huge thanks to my office buddies; Ryan, Petah, Jo, James, Henry, Lucy, Jayne, and especially Miguel, for your comradery and all the interesting (and pointless) conversations over the years. The School of Biological Sciences Postgrad community has been a wonderful source of friends, activities, free food and endless distractions. Having such an inspiring group of people to talk both science and nonsense with kept me sane for the duration of my PhD. Special thanks to Nathan and Luana for the breakfasts, lunches and dinners that kept my spirits (and glucose levels) up throughout my PhD.
My Mum and Dad deserve an extra special mention because not only have they been my biggest supporters throughout all of my studies, but they also enthusiastically help me in any way they can, from reading through manuscripts to measuring giant spiders in the field. Tom, you’ve been wonderful as always. Your patience, devotion and encouragement over the last 4.5 years has not only kept me going, but has kept me genuinely happy in the process. I couldn’t have done it without you. Also, a little shout out to Bump, who has kicked me into action and kept me company through these final months.
Finally. I would like to thank Systems Pest Management for their enthusiasm and support of my gardens research, I would never have achieved such a fantastic spread of data without your help. Also thank you to all the home owners who volunteered their gardens, and to Callie Day who additionally volunteered the gardens of everyone she knows. Thank you to the local councils in Sydney for the permission to sample in their local areas, and to The New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service who granted permission for my fieldwork in National Parks (license number SL100915).
My research and conference attendances were supported by a student research grant and a travel grant from the Ecological Society of Australia., an International Society of Behavioural Ecology travel grant, an Australian Entomological Society student grant and an International Society of Arachnology travel grant.