3 PhD positions @ Deakin University – conservation science

3 PhD positions in conservation science

We are currently looking for 3 enthusiastic PhD students for exciting projects in conservation science. The projects are outlined below. More details can be found on A/Prof Emily Nicholson’s lab website, on the selection criteria, the projects and supervision teams.

These projects are largely desk-based (ideal at the moment), but will have strong international and national collaboration networks. Start dates are ASAP – preferably by August/September, but with some flexibility. All three will be funded by Deakin University scholarships, and are open to Australia and international students.

Please note: closing date for all 3 positions is Monday, June 1st 2020.

Project 1: Planning for sustainable development and biodiversity on Indigenous lands

The complexity of planning for sustainable development is exemplified in the Tiwi Islands, 60km north of Darwin in the Northern Territory, Australia. The Tiwi Land Council is seeking to expand economic opportunities for Tiwi communities and to improve social, economic and health outcomes for the Tiwi people, while sustaining the Islands’ unique cultural and biodiversity values.

This project aims to support decision-making on the Tiwi islands, through new methods for collaborative land-use planning that advance knowledge about trade-offs between sustainable economic development and biodiversity conservation on Indigenous lands. Our approach is trans-disciplinary and participatory, integrating Indigenous and scientific knowledge and methods.

This project will:

  1. map past and current distributions of key species, drawing on these different sources, working with Tiwi communities and research assistants, and scientists across Australia, and
  2. develop models of potential future dynamics under scenarios of climate and land-use change, and different management strategies.

Project 2: Improving the implementation and integration of biodiversity risk assessments

The Earth is currently experiencing a global biodiversity crisis. Ecosystems are collapsing and species extinctions are occurring at an unprecedented rate. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems was developed to assess risks to biodiversity, and is rapidly gaining traction in informing global conservation targets and national assessments of threatened communities. In this project, the PhD student will use a combination of literary synthesis, field work and modelling to explore how the Red List of Ecosystems can be implemented and used to improve conservation outcomes, including developing an understanding of:

  1. how temporal and spatial scale of data influence outcomes of assessments;
  2. how different assessment processes (i.e. the Red List of Ecosystems and the Red List of Threatened Species) work together to enhance conservation decision making;
  3. how Red List assessment can improve management recommendations and outcomes.

Project 3: Connecting biodiversity risk assessment, human well-being and natural capital accounting

Ecosystem degradation and species extinctions are eroding the capacity of the environment to provide essential services that sustain human well-being, economies and social fabrics. Multiple approaches have been developed to assess risks to biodiversity (for example the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Red List of Ecosystems), to value the benefits it supports, and to account for stocks and flows of the benefits from natural capital to human well-being. These approaches remain largely disparate, with limited exchanges between extensive ecological and economic knowledge bases and data. In this trans-disciplinary project, the PhD student will bring together different knowledge types and theory to improve the monitoring and management of natural ecosystems. The student will:

  1. review the theory and empirical evidence supporting the relationships between ecosystems, benefits they provide and human well-being; and
  2. use novel modelling and statistical approaches, together with several case studies, to bring together the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems approach and the United Nations System of Environmental Economic Accounting (UN SEEA EEA) approach.

By working with leading authors in both the RLE and SEEA approaches, this exciting PhD project will influence global and national policy approaches and measurement standards.

For more available positions within the CIE please visit our Current Vacancies page.