PhD Scholarship: Seagrass Restoration: Development of methods for the recovery of intertidal seagrass meadows

Seagrass Restoration: Development of methods for the recovery of intertidal seagrass meadows

Overview: As key ecosystem engineers, seagrasses provide a range of important ecosystem services including nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration, coastal protection, and providing a structurally complex habitat to a variety of vertebrate and invertebrate species. Given these important roles, there has been increasing concern about the rapid declines seagrass populations are now experiencing globally.

In Western Port (South Eastern Australia), seagrass represents a major marine habitat, however, there has been significant loss of meadows over the last 40-50 years. Efforts to improve water quality and sediment loads in the 1990s and 2000s has seen improvements in the overall condition and extent of seagrass meadows in some parts of the bay, however, natural recovery has been slow and some areas have shown no sign of recovery despite improved water quality. Potential reasons for the lack of recovery in these areas may be the absence of seed banks or propagule supply, or that the local environmental conditions are no longer suitable (e.g. there may have been a change in sedimentary conditions). Rehabilitation and restoration of seagrass through seeds and/or transplant units, provides a mechanism to facilitate reestablishment in areas where natural recovery has not occurred and assist more rapid recovery in areas where natural recovery is occurring slowly.

Proposed research project: This project will develop restoration and recovery methodology for intertidal seagrass meadows in Western Port. The program will use a combination of field based trials and mesocosm experiments based at the Queenscliff marine research station to develop the appropriate methodologies needed for seagrass habitat restoration in Western Port.

The candidate should have a strong academic background in ecological theory, GIS and experience in field ecology. They will need to demonstrate strong writing and quantitative analysis skills and be highly self-motivated. The project is funded for three years; the successful student will be competitive for, and encouraged to apply for, additional internal and external funding sources.

Interested applicants are asked to complete and send the HDR expression of interest form to Craig Sherman (craig.sherman@deakin.edu.au) by 15 April. Successful candidates will then be invited to proceed with a formal application.

Please click here to access the expression of interest form.