PhD Position: Keystone habitat dynamics in agricultural landscapes

An exciting opportunity exists to study the dynamics of keystone habitat in agricultural landscapes. The impacts of agricultural expansion on biodiversity can accumulate over decades, including weed invasion and loss of keystone habitat features. Accumulation and interaction of these effects may be accelerating species loss from farming regions beyond the rate due to habitat loss alone. Understanding these processes is a critical knowledge gap for species conservation in disturbed landscapes.

This project aims to understand the dynamics of a keystone habitat feature (spinifex Triodia scariosa) in remnant mallee woodlands in central New South Wales, Australia. Spinifex provides important habitat for many other species, but its persistence in agricultural areas may be threatened by weed invasion, competition and alteration of other ecosystem processes. This project will involve field sampling, a manipulative experiment, and habitat mapping using an unmanned aerial vehicle (‘drone’) to assess spinifex availability across a range of site and landscape conditions. For the right student, there may be opportunities to incorporate additional aspects of plant or animal ecology into the current project.

Funding has already been secured from the Hermon Slade Foundation and Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University. The overall project is led by Dr Tim Doherty in Prof. Don Driscoll’s research group at Deakin’s Burwood (Melbourne) campus. The start date can be late 2017 or early 2018.

The successful candidate will have a first class Honours degree (or equivalent). Peer reviewed publications and fieldwork experience will also be an advantage. The candidate will need to secure a PhD scholarship: http://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/scholarships/find-a-scholarship/rtp-and-duprs

For further information, please email tdohert@deakin.edu.au with the subject line ‘Keystone habitat PhD’.

PhD Position: Microbiology and greenhouse gas dynamics of inland wetlands

Blue Carbon Lab - A Deakin IdeaBackground:  Wetlands are among earth’s most efficient ecosystems for carbon sequestration, but can also emit potent greenhouse gases depending on how they are managed. The overall objective of this industry-based research project is to devise ways to maximise carbon sequestration by inland wetlands and minimise release of greenhouse gases.

Specifically, this project will: 1) trial new techniques for monitoring wetland carbon sequestration based on protocols recently proposed by the Blue Carbon Lab; and 2) quantify and constrain seasonal and diel rates of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from inland wetlands while simultaneously identifying key microbial communities and genes involved in wetland carbon metabolism.

This project will represent a major advance in our understanding of carbon fluxes from Australian floodplain freshwater wetlands. The project will enhance our capacity for accurate national carbon budgets and greenhouse gas accounting and build upon Australia’s fundamental knowledge base and international research profile regarding wetland carbon sequestration dynamics.

Project partners: Deakin University and Murray Local Land Services.

Value: AUD$26,681 per annum plus project costs. Other benefits see HERE.

Research environment: Deakin ranks in the top 3% of universities globally and is Australia’s eighth largest university. Deakin’s Blue Carbon Lab (BCL, bluecarbonlab.org) is emerging as a leading group in global efforts to establish science that underpins practical efforts to offset carbon emissions with blue carbon ecosystems, which includes wetlands. BCL’s members include specialists in ecology, spatial analysis, microbiology, soil science, chemistry, and modelling. The project will provide an opportunity for a PhD student to receive valuable research training from leading scientists within Deakin, its collaborators (e.g. Southern Cross University), and resource managers at Murray Local Land Services.

Supervisory team: The supervisory team consists of Dr Peter Macreadie (Deakin University, Head of Blue Carbon Lab) as the Principal Supervisor, Dr Paul Carnell (Deakin University, Postdoctoral Fellow) as Associate Supervisor, and Dr Trish Bowen as Industry Supervisor.

Closing date: The position will remain open until filled. A first assessment of applications will be contacted in April 2017.

Citizenship: This position is open to domestic and international applicants.

Selection criteria:

  1. A first class Honours or Masters degree with experience in environmental microbiology.
  2. A proven track record of academic excellence. Applicants with first-authored publications in quality journals will score highly.
  3. Experience in collecting field data and capacity to undertake independent fieldwork.
  4. Capacity to implement research in collaboration with a range of stakeholders (government agencies, private landholders, conservation groups etc.).
  5. Strong English written communication skills including the capacity to write research results into scientific papers.

Special requirements: Manual drivers licence.

To apply: Email the following information to info@bluecarbonlab.org:

  1. A letter (2 pages max)
    1. Addressing each of the selection criteria
    2. A summary of your research experience
    3. Your reasons for wanting to do a PhD
    4. Information on how your skills will be relevant to the project
  2. A copy of your academic transcript
  3. An example of your written work as lead author (e.g. paper, manuscript, thesis)

PhD Position: Using citizen science to quantify the ecological benefits of environmental flows

cerrfEnvironmental flows aim to provide water to achieve specific outcomes such as enhanced biodiversity or to provide insurance against drying due to climate change. How those flows are delivered, how the benefits that arise from those flows are measured and the potential role for citizen science in that assessment are current areas of research worldwide.

This project will quantify the ecological benefits of environmental flows from a recently decommissioned reservoir in the Painkalac River, Victoria, Australia. This will be through developing and testing a scientifically-robust regime for quantifying environmental flow benefits that includes citizen science in partnership with ecological specialists.

The project is a partnership between the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures (CERRF) at Deakin University and Barwon Water who own and manage the reservoir. Outcomes from the project will be implemented by Barwon Water and a local community reference group, as well as inform environmental flows on other rivers where similar reservoirs are decommissioned, providing a blueprint for community involvement in river management.

The student will be supported by a Postgraduate Industry Research Scholarship, jointly provided by Deakin University and Barwon Water, as well as operational funding for the three years of the project. The student will be based at Deakin University in Waurn Ponds, in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and will be a member of the Centre for Regional and Rural Futures, a supportive research environment with a strong focus on innovative solutions to support regional industry and environments.

We are looking for a student with an aquatic ecology and/or hydrology background and an interest in community engagement or similar.

Please send a CV and cover letter to Rebecca Lester (rebecca.lester@deakin.edu.au).

PhD Position: The role of prenatal communication in adaptation to hot climate

videosnapWe are seeking an outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidate with an interest in avian physiology to work on the ARC funded research project “The role of prenatal communication in adaptation to hot climate”. The project is supervised by Dr Mylene Mariette & Prof Kate Buchanan.

We recently discovered that zebra finch parents warn their embryos about hot weather, and that this acoustic signal adaptively prepares offspring for growing in a hot environment. This work was recently published in Science (Mariette & Buchanan 2016) and featured in international media (The ABC Science Show, BBC, the Parisian, New York Times). Check out the video on Facebook or You Tube “Zebra finch parents tell eggs: it´s hot outside”.

The aim of this PhD project is to explore the physiological mechanisms underlying the developmental effects we observed, and assess the significance of this strategy in the wild.

For more information on the project and how to apply click HERE (PDF).
Application deadline is 13th March 2017 or until a suitable candidate is found.

PhD Position: Stress, song and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance

Transgenerational effects of stress on vocal

Ph.D. scholarship available
Deakin University; Centre for Integrative Ecology
Geelong, Vic Australia

A supervisory team of ARC Future Fellow Professor Kate Buchanan, Professor Andy TD Bennett & Dr Ondi Crino are seeking an outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidate to work on the ARC funded research project “Stress, song and transgenerational epigenetic inheritance”. Previous work has demonstrated the fundamental impact of early life stressors on vocal learning in songbirds. The aim of this PhD research is to assess the extent to which such effects occur across generations and test the possible mechanisms for transgenerational effects using Zebra Finches as a model systems.

The PhD student will be in a vibrant and productive research team. They will test the role of early developmental stress for song learning, neural development and behaviour. They will conduct behavioural tests, bioacoustics analyses, neural sectioning and image brain sections for gene expression to assess vocal learning. Opportunities for field work are included.

Start date: from March 2017 onwards
Stipend: AUD$26,000 p.a. (tax exempt) for 3 years
(for non-Australian/NZ citizens waivers to overseas tuition fee are potentially available)

It will build on our recent research, featured in the international leading journal Science, (and reported widely including The ABC Science Show, BBC, Smithsonian, New York Times) which showed transgenerational effects in zebra finches of singing to eggs.

PhD Project content: The student will join a productive ARC-funded team testing the effect of early life stress on vocal learning, neural development and behaviour. The student will have responsibility for carrying out behavioural playback experiments, recording and analysing avian song, collecting neural tissue and imaging the brain for gene expression. They will receive training in all these aspects, and as the research will involve collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany, travel there may be possible. Although the project has clear aims to meet the project objectives, we seek a student who is keen to develop their own interests and so find their own individual niche within the project.

For further description of the research groups see the following sites:

Recent relevant publications by the group include:

  • Mariette M.M. & Buchanan K.L. (2016) Prenatal acoustic communication programs offspring for high posthatching temperatures in a songbird. Science 353: 812-814 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf7049
  • Buchanan, KL, J. Grindstaff and V.V. Pravosudov (2013) Condition-dependence, developmental plasticity and cognition: implications for ecology and evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28, 290-296.
  • Crino, O.L., K. L Buchanan, L.A Trompf, M. C Mainwaring, S. C Griffith (2016) Stress reactivity, condition, and foraging behavior in zebra finches: effects on boldness, exploration, and sociality. General and Comparative Endocrinology doi 10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.01.014
  • Woodgate, J.L, K.L. Buchanan, A.T.D. Bennett, C.K .Catchpole, R. Brighton & S. Leitner. (2013) Environmental and genetic control of brain and song structure in the zebra finch. Evolution 68, 230- 240.

The Research Environment: The PhD student will be based in the Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) at Deakin University’s Geelong campus. This is 50 minutes from the Melbourne CBD and 20 minutes from Bells Beach and the Great Ocean Road. Deakin hosts one of the largest ornithological research groups in the southern hemisphere, and in the recent ARC Research Assessment exercise received the highest possible rating (of 5) in Zoology. Excellent facilities are available including a 300m2 new aviary, modern lab and offices, well equipped 4WDs for fieldwork, excellent statistical support and established sites for fieldwork on zebra finches. The CIE has over 60 postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, many from overseas; we have multiple weekly seminars and paper discussion sessions, and the research group has 6+ postdocs and regular lab group meetings fostering a lively research culture. We strongly encourage PhD students to present at national and international conferences, and Deakin provides over $3000 for international conference attendance for each PhD.

Who should apply? The project would suit a highly motivated and able student with strong interests in avian evolution, ecology, behaviour or neurobiology. Essential requirements include: Masters or first class honours (or equivalent in a relevant field); excellent written communication skills; high levels of enthusiasm, motivation; an ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team; and a driver’s licence (as field work may be required). After training, the student needs to be able to take on the collection and analyses of neural tissue. Experience in field work with birds and/or bioacoustics or neural analyses is desirable but not essential. Selection will be based on academic merit and prior experience.

Application deadline is 31st January 2017

For further information or to apply contact Professor Kate Buchanan (kate.buchanan@deakin.edu.au). To apply, please send a statement of your interest in the project, a detailed CV and contact details for two referees. Previous applicants need not reapply.

Postdoc and PhD Positions: ARC Discovery grant on biodiversity indicators

biodiversity-indicatorsWe’re delighted to have been successful in our application for an ARC Discovery grant to continue our work on biodiversity indicators. The grant is lead by Emily Nicholson at Deakin University in collaboration with Ben Collen at University College London (UCL), and Beth Fulton and Simon Ferrier at CSIRO.

We are now looking for a postdoc and a PhD student to undertake the research. Please get in touch with Emily Nicholson as soon as possible, with the possibility of a January 2017 start.

Applications will close as soon as suitable candidates have been found

The project: Reliable and sensitive biodiversity indicators are critical to track progress towards conservation targets. Yet most biodiversity indicators remain untested in their ability to reveal the trends needed by decision-makers. This project aims to develop much-needed methods to test, design and select biodiversity indicators to support conservation decisions. It will provide the first comprehensive test of indicators used to monitor biodiversity change at local to global scales, by sampling ecosystem models to evaluate how indicator design, data bias and environmental variability affect performance. The research will evaluate and improve the way change in biodiversity is measured, globally and in Australia, and provide new methods for policy evaluation with biodiversity indicators. Project outcomes will have significant implications for predicting and measuring impacts of policy such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The postdoc and PhD student will develop and/or adapt a range of modeling approaches, including ecosystem models, for use in indicator testing, together with large databases. They will be based at Deakin University in Burwood, in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and will be a member of the Centre for Integrative Ecology, a supportive research environment with a strong ecological focus. The project will involve close collaboration with Ben Collen, Beth Fulton and Simon Ferrier, including visits to their labs throughout the project, and group meetings in Melbourne.

PhD Student: We are looking for a student with quantitative skills and experience in R or similar, and a 1st class honours or masters degree in a related discipline. Please send a CV and cover letter to Emily Nicholson (e.nicholson@deakin.edu.au).

Postdoc: We are looking for a level A or B postdoc with:

  • A PhD in quantitative ecology, conservation science or a related discipline
  • Strong quantitative skills, experience in ecological modelling and data analysis, in R or similar
  • An excellent publication record relative to opportunity
  • Strong research skills and experience, including the capacity to work independently and in teams
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Preferably some supervision experience

Please send a CV and cover letter to Emily Nicholson (e.nicholson@deakin.edu.au).

PhD Position: Transgenerational effects of stress on vocal learning

Transgenerational effects of stress on vocalPhD student wanted! Australian Research Council (ARC) project Transgenerational effects of stress on vocal learning.

Based at Deakin University’s Centre for Integrative Ecology with ARC Future Fellow Professor Kate Buchanan, Professor Andy Bennett & Dr Ondi Crino.

We are seeking an outstanding, highly motivated PhD candidate to work on the ARC Future Fellowship research project “Transgenerational effects of stress on vocal learning”. Previous work has demonstrated the fundamental impact of early life stressors on vocal learning in songbirds. The aim of this PhD research program is to assess the extent to which such effects are mediated across generations and test the possible mechanisms for any transgenerational effects using Zebra Finches as a model systems. The PhD student will work in a vibrant and productive research team testing the role of early developmental stress for song learning and neural development. They will conduct behavioural assays, bioacoustics analyses, neural sectioning and image brain sections for gene expression to assess vocal learning.

Stipend: AUD26,000 p.a. (tax exempt) for 3 years (for overseas students, waivers to overseas tuition fee are potentially available).

PhD Project content: The student will join a productive ARC-funded team testing the effect of early life stress on vocal learning and neural development. The student will have responsibility for recording song, carrying out playback experiments, collecting neural tissue and imaging the brain for gene expression, and will receive training in all these aspects. The research will involve collaboration with the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Seewiesen, Germany and travel there may be possible. Although the project involves clear aims to meet the ARC-funded objectives, we seek a student who is keen to develop their own interests and consequently find their own individual niche within the project.

For a description of the research groups see the following sites:
http://www.deakin.edu.au/profiles/kate-buchanan
http://www.deakin.edu.au/profiles/andy-bennett
https://cie-deakin.com/

Some recent relevant publications by the group on this topic include:

  • Crino, O.L., K. L Buchanan, L.A Trompf, M. C Mainwaring, S. C Griffith (2016) Stress reactivity, condition, and foraging behavior in zebra finches: effects on boldness, exploration, and sociality. General and Comparative Endocrinology doi 10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.01.014.
  • Woodgate, J.L, K.L. Buchanan, A.T.D. Bennett, C.K .Catchpole, R. Brighton & S. Leitner. (2013) Environmental and genetic control of brain and song structure in the zebra finch. Evolution 68, 230- 240.
  • Buchanan, KL, J. Grindstaff and V.V. Pravosudov (2013) Condition-dependence, developmental plasticity and cognition: implications for ecology and evolution. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 28, 290-296.

The Research Environment: The successful candidate would be based in the Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE) at Deakin University’s Geelong campus 50 minutes from Melbourne CBD, and 20 minutes from Bells Beach, Torquay. Deakin hosts one of the largest ornithological research groups in the southern hemisphere, and in the recent ARC Research Assessment exercise it received the highest possible rating of 5 in Zoology. Excellent facilities are available for the project, including a 300m2 new aviary, modern lab and offices, well equipped 4WDs for fieldwork, excellent statistical support and established sites for fieldwork on zebra finches.

The CIE has over 60 postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, many from overseas, with multiple weekly seminars and paper discussion sessions, and the research group has 6+ postdocs and regular lab group meetings fostering a lively research culture. We strongly encourage PhD students to present at national and international conferences, and over $3000 is support for conference attendance is provided for each PhD.

Who should apply? The scholarship would suit a highly motivated and able student with strong interests in avian evolution, ecology, behaviour or neurobiology. Essential requirements include: Masters or first class honours (or equivalent in a relevant field); excellent written communication skills; high levels of enthusiasm, motivation; an ability to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team. A driver’s licence is essential, as field work may be required. The student needs to be able to take on the collection and analyses of neural tissue, after training. Experience in field work with birds and/or bioacoustics or neural analyses are desirable but not essential. The position will be based in Geelong, but with opportunities for work and visits to other labs. Selection will be based on academic merit and prior experience.

Application deadline is 1st August 2016.

For further information or to apply contact Dr Ondi Crino (Andrea.crino@deakin.edu.au) or Professor Andy Bennett (andy.bennett@deakin.edu.au).

To apply, please send a statement of your interest in the project, a detailed CV and contact details for two referees.

 

Postdoc Position: Marine Ecosystem Services

postdoc - marine ecosystem servicesMarine Ecosystem Services – The project is a collaboration between Deakin University’s Daniel Ierodiaconou, Peter Macreadie and Emily Nicholson from the Centre for Integrative Ecology (CIE), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and state agencies (DELWP and Parks Victoria).

The project forms part of TNC’s Mapping Ocean Wealth program. Happily we also were successful in gaining an ARC Linkage grant to further develop work on blue carbon, with the addition of Prof Cath Lovelock (UQ) – Optimal management of coastal ecosystems for blue carbon sequestration.

As a result we have at least one postdoc position available, currently being advertised. The Research Fellow will initiate and conduct research in the area of marine and coastal ecosystem services. We are particularly interested in applications with people with a background in environmental or natural resource economics, experience in quantifying and modelling ecosystem services, and/or ecosystem or fisheries modelling.

The aim of this project is to develop local valuations of coastal ecosystem services for marine habitats in southern Australia, and communicate these to stakeholders using spatial maps and other media. Quantifying the benefits people gain from natural systems will allow the potential impacts of alternative management scenarios to be evaluated, and assessments of the trade-offs between development and different ecosystem services.

The project will: (1) develop a series of model-based spatial maps that quantify ecosystem services provided by temperate marine habitats such as saltmarsh, mangroves and seagrass; and (2) value these ecosystem services in terms of social and economic benefits to people using locally relevant valuation methodologies for coastal protection, fisheries, tourism and/or recreation.

The project will focus on marine habitats in central Victoria and northern New South Wales. The project’s rationale and methodologies are underpinned by the Global Mapping Ocean Wealth project developed by The Nature Conservancy (see http://oceanwealth.org/). This Project is the Australian component of the Global Mapping Ocean Wealth project.

Applications close on July 10th – selection criteria and application process here.

Feel free to spread the word 🙂

PhD Position: Biodiversity Indicators

Emily N.
Emily N.

We are looking for a new PhD student to undertake research on biodiversity indicators, supervised by Emily Nicholson in collaboration with Simon Ferrier at CSIRO, Beth Fulton (CSIRO), and Ben Collen at University College London (UCL). The project will be supported by CSIRO, providing a top-up and research funds, for a student able to get an Australian Postgraduate Award.

Please get in touch with Emily Nicholson by mid June 2016, with the possibility of a mid-2016 start. Applications will close as soon as a suitable candidate has been found.

The project: Reliable and sensitive biodiversity indicators are critical to track progress towards conservation targets. Yet most biodiversity indicators remain untested in their ability to reveal the trends needed by decision-makers.

This project aims to develop much-needed methods to test, design and select biodiversity indicators to support conservation decisions. It will provide the first comprehensive test of indicators used to monitor biodiversity change at local to global scales, by sampling ecosystem models to evaluate how indicator design, data bias and environmental variability affect performance.

The research will evaluate and improve the way change in biodiversity is measured, globally and in Australia, and provide new methods for policy evaluation with biodiversity indicators. Project outcomes will have significant implications for predicting and measuring impacts of policy such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The student: Will be able to develop and/or adapt a range of modeling approaches, including ecosystem models, for use in indicator testing, together with large databases.

The project is in collaboration with researchers in biodiversity conservation and fisheries science, at CSIRO and Universities overseas including UCL. The student will be based at Deakin University in Burwood, in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and will be a member of the Centre for Integrative Ecology, a supportive research environment with a strong ecological focus.

We are looking for a student with quantitative skills and experience in R or similar. Please send a CV and cover letter to Emily Nicholson (e.nicholson@deakin.edu.au).