Project: Although invasive species are a massive threat to biodiversity, and costly to society, we still do not understand the evolutionary processes that shape invasions. Invasive populations often show rapid evolutionary change in novel environments but attempts to identify the underlying genetic basis of these changes have been largely unsuccessful.
This PhD is part of a larger project exploring an innovative and untested alternative possibility: that invader evolution is primarily driven by epigenetic change. Using an iconic Australian invasive species, the cane toad, we will conduct a multi-generational experiment to manipulate DNA methylation levels and quantify the effects on phenotypic traits important to invasion and which have been shown to change across the introduced range in Australia, including traits related to dispersal ability, immune function and personality.
We will also be investigating the plasticity of these traits and determining whether this relates to changes in epigenetic state. The larger project is well-resourced and multi-disciplinary, combining the efforts of molecular ecologists at Deakin University with invasion ecologists (Professor Rick Shine and his team) from the University of Sydney.
Selection criteria: This PhD project will be primarily based at our collaborator’s field station in the Northern Territory but will also include time at the Deakin University Geelong campus.
We seek an ecologist with an interest in epigenetic inheritance who will work closely with team members who are conducting genetic/epigenetic analyses. There will be flexibility to tailor the PhD project to your specific interests if they are aligned with our research direction.
We seek someone who is hard-working and enthusiastic about invasion ecology and herpetology. The ideal candidate will have some field experience, a demonstrated ability to work independently and well-developed organisational skills. Preference will be given to applicants with at least one first-authored publication.
Scholarship/application details: The successful candidate will be awarded a PhD stipend of AUD$25,392 per annum (tax-free) over three years.
Applicants should send an email to Dr. Lee Ann Rollins (firstname.lastname@example.org) including:
- Academic record (subjects and marks)
- A one-page summary of your research interests and career goals
- Details of 3 referees (including any previous research supervisors)
Closing date for applications is 22nd May