Click on any title below to jump to a certain position, or scroll down to see them all:
- Determining the resilience of Australian alpine plants in a future climate (Phd)
- Emerging technologies for native wildlife assessment: drones and machine learning for koala and kangaroo population monitoring and habitat assessment (PhD)
- Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Farm Dams (Phd)
- Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People (PhD + Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
- Animal personality and performance and pace-of-life (PhD)
- Emerging technologies for native wildlife assessment (Postdoctoral Research Fellow)
- Niche segregation in sympatric short-tailed and wedge-tailed shearwaters (PhD)
- Ecology of Falkland Steamer ducks (PhD)
- Winter distribution and habitat use in adult and juvenile Australasian gannets (PhD)
- Determinants and consequences of personality in Australasian gannets (PhD)
- Conserving koalas in a complex landscape (PhD)
- The effects of wetland management on microbial carbon breakdown in Australian wetlands (PhD)
- Population genomics of Australian alpine plants: Identifying vulnerable plant species and climate-ready seed sources (PhD)
- Mechanisms underpinning the formation and stabilisation of coastal blue carbon (PhD)
- Conservation genomics of the short-finned eel (PhD)
Determining the resilience of Australian alpine plants in a future climate
PhD Opportunity – Deakin University (eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team) supervised by Associate Professor Susanna Venn
The eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team in the Centre for Integrative Ecology and School of Life and Environmental Sciences is seeking a PhD candidate to contribute to an Australian Research Council funded research program aimed at enhancing the resilience of Australian alpine plant communities through strategic restoration practices.
The Australian Alps are recognized as one of the world’s major biodiversity hotspots and critically vulnerable to climate change. Alpine plant communities are already showing signs of climate stress, are under threat from exotic pest plants and animals, and are recovering from a legacy of stock grazing.
As a result, large areas of alpine environments require ongoing restoration works across National Parks and Alpine Resorts. There is urgent need for progressive management strategies to maximise restoration success through consideration of future soil water availability, plant thermal tolerances, and the adaptability of functionally important plant species.
To bolster the resilience of alpine landscapes under climate change; we must understand the interactions between the physical and biological processes underpinning the health of alpine environments and adaptability of alpine plant communities.
An excellent PhD candidate with a background in ecological science, botany or plant ecology is sought to join an exciting project, co-funded by the Centre for Integrative Ecology and the Australian Research Council and our industry partners Parks Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria, Mount Hotham Alpine Resort and Southern Alpine Resort Management Board, and will make use of the Australian Mountain Research Facility. Depending of the project scope, the candidate will have a unique opportunity to focus on aspects of:
- Plant thermal tolerance
- Plant water relations and ecophysiology
- Plant regeneration and recruitment
- Snow ecology
The results of the project will assist alpine land managers choose the right species for restoration projects, thereby building resilience into these vulnerable environments.
The candidate will join the eXtreme Plant Ecology Research Team at Deakin Burwood and be supervised by Susanna Venn with potential co-supervisors Adam Miller, John Morgan (La Trobe University) and/or Adrienne Nicotra (Australian National University) depending on the project. The application process is competitive; applicants are expected to have an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in a related Honours or a MSc research program, and proven skills in scientific writing (previous publications in the relevant area will be highly ranked).
The successful candidate will be awarded a 3-year PhD scholarship (~AU$28,000 p.a. tax free) through the Centre of Integrative Ecology and the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. An anticipated commencement date is spring 2022.
Please get in touch for more information and/or send your CV with a brief introduction about yourself and your interest in this project to Associate Professor Susanna Venn (Susanna.email@example.com)
Emerging technologies for native wildlife assessment: drones and machine learning for koala and kangaroo population monitoring and habitat assessment
We are looking for a PhD candidate interested in ecology, predictive habitat modelling, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS; or drones), and/or machine learning to join the Centre For Integrative Ecology at Deakin University within an exciting research project developing improved monitoring techniques for koala and kangaroo populations and habitat.
Conservation practitioners and land managers require the most robust, efficient, accurate, and cost-effective wildlife monitoring techniques in order to manage species and their diverse habitats across vast Victorian landscapes.
Survey methods that provide evidence to support critical wildlife decisions such as relocation, control or take no action, are often contested, due to questions around the accuracy, cost, difficulty, and time required to undertake reliable surveys. Emerging technologies such as compact remote sensing technology, remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS; or Drones), rapid digital image processing and machine learning technologies provide opportunities to improve the efficiency and accuracy of wildlife monitoring and habitat assessments.
This project aims to develop, implement and evaluate a range of these new approaches to monitor wildlife populations and habitat conditions. The project will incorporate conventional field-based surveys and emerging aerial survey techniques (including drones) combined with machine (deep) learning to identify improved monitoring approaches for koalas and kangaroos and their habitats.
The Bushfires and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre-funded project is an exciting opportunity to collaborate and study across disciplines. The project draws on expertise from the Deakin Schools of Life and Environmental Sciences, Information Technology, and Business and Law. The project also involves collaborations across government, including the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, the Arthur Rylah Institute, and Parks Victoria.
The specific roles of the PhD candidate include:
- Build and test predictive models to characterise vegetation quality for koalas and kangaroos using drone and ground-collected data.
- Assist IT experts in developing continuous scanning machine learning using recently developed heterogeneous data fusion techniques based on fuzzy Choquet integration of deep convolutional neural network classifiers. The candidate will collaborate to produce a novel automated vertebrate detection architecture from multispectral imagery captured from drones for koalas and kangaroos.
- Assist in koala and kangaroo field work in remote areas (e.g., SW Victoria, Otways or South Gippsland for koalas & NW Victoria, Murray-Sunset, Hattah-Kulkyne and Wyperfeld national parks for kangaroos). Field work will include conducting conventional field surveys and supporting drone pilot teams as a spotter.
- Annotate drone-collected video data sets for koalas, kangaroos and habitat, including visual, multispectral and thermal footage of habitat condition and koala/kangaroo detections.
- A relevant undergraduate degree (e.g., degree in IT/computer science or science and/or environmental science) in a relevant area (e.g., GIS and remote sensing, spatial science, machine learning, biodiversity conservation/ecology).
- Class 1 Honours or Masters, also in a relevant area.
Knowledge, skills and experience:
- Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as collaborate and work effectively in a team-based environment. The successful candidate will study in a large and diverse project team involving partners in government departments and research institutions.
- Demonstrated quantitative skills in data analysis.
- Proven scientific writing skills.
Undergraduate, research and/or technical experience (or a demonstrated capacity to develop skills) in the below listed areas would be an advantage:
- Familiarity/experience with machine learning and artificial intelligence.
- Predictive habitat modelling and quantitative spatial ecology/remote sensing.
- Survey/monitoring techniques for large mammals and/or arboreal mammals.
- Qualifications and/or experience with remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS; or drones).
- Capacity to undertake efficient ecological field work in remote areas.
The successful candidate will be awarded a 3-year PhD Scholarship (~AU$28,000 p.a. tax free) and will be based at Deakin University’s Burwood campus (Melbourne). Please note: the broader research project has commenced, therefore applicants who are able to start in the first quarter of 2022 will be prioritised. While all applicants will be welcomed, due to COVID-19 and the preferred starting period, domestic applicants may be prioritised.
Interested in applying?
Interested candidates should contact Lachlan Howell (firstname.lastname@example.org), the Principal Research Fellow on this project. The candidate should forward the following documents: 1) An updated CV highlighting their skills, education, relevant work experience and any publications; 2) A cover letter (no more than 3 pages) that specifically addresses each of the selection criteria, including an introductory paragraph outlining their interest in the position.
Closing date: Wednesday, 2nd February 2022 @ 5pm
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Farm Dams
We are looking for a Ph.D. candidate to join an ARC Discovery Early Career Research Award on “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Farm Dams”.
Australian farm dams have some of the highest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per area among freshwater ecosystems. In Victoria alone, we estimated they release over 4,800 tonnes of CO2‐equivalent each day, which is 4.5% of all the State’s agricultural emissions. These recently discovered emissions are triggered by fertiliser and manure run-off increasing nutrients and creating the ideal conditions for the production of methane (CH4) – a gas with 20-30 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide (CO2).
There is an exciting opportunity to join the Blue Carbon Lab (Deakin University) in collaboration with Sustainable Farms (Australian National University) to investigate how enhancing farm dam condition affects methane emissions. The successful candidate will carry out field work, deploy and monitor tailor-made sensors, compile and analyse data from the field, remote sensing, and GIS.
This PhD project will aim to address the following aspects:
- Capture spatial and temporal variability in greenhouse gas emissions among farm dams;
- Investigate the role of biotic (e.g., vegetation) and abiotic (e.g., climate) factors on greenhouse gas emissions;
- Determine the impact of management interventions (e.g., fencing) and land use type (e.g., livestock, crops) on greenhouse gas emissions;
- Analyse the role of microbial communities on methane emissions.
To learn more, visit https://www.bluecarbonlab.org/farm-dams.
Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab is a multi-disciplinary research group at the forefront of global efforts to improve lives and livelihoods sustainably. We led the first study reporting unusually high methane emissions from farm dams (Ollivier et al. 2018). We also delivered a continental-scale map of farm dams in Australia (Malerba et al. 2021). We have collaborative partnerships and projects across 30 countries and are recognised as world leaders in the science underpinning natural climate solutions.
The candidate will work in close collaboration with the Sustainable Farms project at Australian National University. The Sustainable Farms project is among Australia’s leading research groups in sustainable farming. In recent years, Sustainable Farms have been monitoring the positive effects of farm dam enhancements on biodiversity, water security, and farming productivity. For the past two years, Sustainable Farms and Blue Carbon Lab worked together to show that enhancing farm dams can also reduce methane emissions. The successful candidate will further improve our understanding of the drivers of methane emissions at micro and macro scales.
To learn more, visit https://www.sustainablefarms.org.au/on-the-farm/farm-dams/.
- Experience publishing in peer-reviewed scientific journal (preferably as first author);
- First class Honours or Masters;
- Familiar with the statistical software R (or similar);
- Experience in carrying our research in environmental sciences, ecology, or similar;
- Experience with spatial modelling or remote sensing.
PhD applicants should email the following documents to Dr Martino Malerba (email@example.com):
- CV highlighting your skills, education, publications, and relevant work experience;
- Cover letter (1 page) outlining your interest in the position and how your previous experience and technical skills suit the position;
- The project will have a strong quantitative component. Extensive experience with the statistical package R (or similar coding languages) is a requirement. Ensure to outline any quantitative experience in the cover letter.
- The student will be enrolled in a 3-year PhD. Applicants will be based at Deakin University’s Burwood campus (Melbourne);
- We are unable to provide individual feedback on competitiveness. The following features are common among successful PhD applicants at the Blue Carbon Lab: (a) A first-authored paper in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, (b) first class Honours/Masters, (c) strong quantitative skills, and (d) experience working in similar topics;
- Whilst we still accept applications from any persons interested in our roles, due to the impacts of COVID-19, we are currently prioritising applications from those with current working rights in Australia.
Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People
PhD + Postdoctoral Reaserch Fellow Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by Dr Michalis Hadjikakou
Deakin University is seeking expressions of interest for one Postdoctoral Fellowship (2-years at Academic Level A or B) and one PhD Scholarship (3-years, fully funded) in food system sustainability assessment as part of a Centre of Research Excellence on “Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People”, in collaboration with The George Institute for Global Health.
Research topic and background
The food system is a key determinant of human health as well as a key driver of global environmental impact. A major transition in the food supply has resulted in widescale distribution and consumption of meat-based and increasingly highly processed food and beverage products that are contributing to poor health outcomes and have high environmental footprints. In Australia, extensive transformation of the food system is needed to reduce the large and increasing prevalence of diet-related diseases and to enable the transition towards net zero emissions and staying within planetary boundaries.
While emerging work has focused on the impacts of broad agricultural commodities (notably animal source foods such as meat and dairy), existing footprint databases are not fully representative of the many packaged products most of us consume on a regular basis. Consumers are increasingly concerned about environmental issues, yet they are currently unable to access the right information about the sustainability of food and beverage products. Similarly, the food industry is in desperate need for sustainability data on the types of food and beverage products that are likely to have lower environmental impact and are unlikely to attract regulatory and fiscal disincentives in the longer term. Governments also require reliable information to inform policies designed to support a more sustainable food production and consumption environment. A rigorous and comprehensive analytical framework capable of providing reliable estimates of the environmental impacts associated with the entire food supply chain (from farm to fork) of food and beverage products is needed to provide information for all market actors.
The Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence will address the impacts of food on human and planetary health by providing the granular data and insights required to undertake the systemic changes necessary for meaningful transformation of the food system.
The aim of this project will be to develop a state-of-the-art hybrid life cycle assessment approach to of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other critical environmental sustainability indicators such as water, land use and biodiversity impact for ~100,000 food and beverage products contained in the FoodSwitch database. This will involve using a combination of both bottom-up (ingredient-based, process-based life cycle inventories) and top-down (economy-wide, environmentally extended input-output analysis) sustainability assessment approaches, along with a sophisticated handling of uncertainty and error propagation associated with each of the major stages in the food supply chain (food production, processing, distribution, retail and food preparation).
The Postdoctoral Fellow and the PhD candidate will work together on the development of the life cycle assessment approach and on delivering comprehensive food and beverage environmental footprint database. They will then be in a unique position to apply the approach and database alongside other unique datasets offered through the “Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People” NHMRC Centre of Research the Excellence to answer questions such as (but not limited to):
- How do different healthy and sustainable diets made up of different combinations of available food products perform across different environmental indicators?
- How can the environmental footprint data be meaningfully combined with nutrition quality algorithms to produce ratings and food labelling that identifies the degree of alignment or misalignment between environmental and health outcomes within and across product categories?
- How important are GHG emissions related to transportation/processing and the cooking method across different products?
- To what extent can increases in production efficiency and/or uptake of renewable energy reduce the environmental footprint of different food products?
- How do consumers react to having more granular information? What type of information is most effective in pushing them towards healthier and more sustainable diets?
The Postdoctoral Fellow and the PhD candidate will be principally supervised by Dr Michalis Hadjikakou and will work within Deakin University’s Planet-A lab, led by Alfred Deakin Professor Brett Bryan, the School of Life and Environmental Sciences and the Centre for Integrative Ecology. Planet-A offers a unique research environment with a strong focus on sustainability assessment of the land use and food system, notably through its involvements in the Land Use Futures project. The position is based at the Melbourne/Burwood Campus.
Co-supervision and mentoring opportunities will be available through the “Healthy Food, Healthy Planet, Healthy People” NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence partners at the George Institute, Imperial College London and Oxford University.
Applications are invited from candidates with a strong tertiary qualification in environmental science and/or management, ecology, geography, sustainability assessment, ecological economics, environmental/sustainable engineering or related fields. Candidates with a working background in life cycle assessment, environmental footprinting, input-output analysis, life cycle assessment, food systems modelling, integrated assessment modelling or similar fields are particularly encouraged to apply. Candidates with a background in social science, economics, nutrition science or public health with strong quantitative skills and with an interest in sustainability, will also be considered.
Essential Skills (Postdoctoral Fellow and PhD candidate)
- Sound technical ability and experience working with quantitative data as evidenced by prior work;
- Excellent data management, numerical and programming skills are essential;
- Proficiency in English, including excellent written and oral communication skills;
- Evidence of ability to publish or disseminate academic research, or similar.
Essential Skills (Postdoctoral Fellow)
- Prior experience in the development or application of quantitative sustainability assessment methods such as life cycle assessment;
- On-time delivery of project tasks, reporting and other deliverables of research;
- An ability to manage research projects and willingness to develop good working relationships with other researchers in the field and project collaborators.
To be eligible you must be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship.
To be competitive for the Postdoctoral position, you must have:
- Recently obtained or just submitted a PhD in environmental science and/or management, geography, sustainability assessment, ecological economics, environmental/sustainable engineering, nutrition science or public health or related fields;
- An emerging track record of academic publications in the field showcasing your ability to carry out quantitative analysis.
For the PhD position, you must:
- Meet Deakin’s PhD entry requirements;
- Be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master’s degree with a substantial research component;
- Applicants are expected to have 1st class Honours (or equivalent ranking) in a suitable undergraduate degree and a top-ten grade in relevant postgraduate degrees;
- Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.
Enquiries and expressions of interest should be sent to Dr Michalis Hadjikakou (firstname.lastname@example.org). The formal application procedure is expected to open shortly. Interested candidates will be expected to a include a cover letter referring to the essential skills outlined above along with academic transcripts, a CV and the names and contact details of two referees. The deadline for applications is expected to be 31 November 2021. Candidates would ideally commence in February 2022.
Animal personality and performance and pace-of-life
PhD Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by A/Prof Peter Biro (Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus)
The inter-relationships between physiology, behaviour, performance and life history are fundamental to understanding the function and evolution of individual phenotypes. Studying these relationships can help us understand why highly flexible traits like behaviour and physiology can consistently differ among individuals. At the same time, studying individual variation in physiology and behaviour can help us understand animal performance (e.g. endurance, maximal oxygen consumption VO2max) and life history, including growth, reproduction and immune function.
This very broad focus includes and combines areas of study such as animal personality, behavioural plasticity, evolution, developmental plasticity and energetics.
The implications of understanding these trait linkages at the individual level are fundamental for understanding animal adaptation to changing environments, and for understanding the highly individual nature of health and disease resistance in humans and other animals.
Although the potential projects are flexible, as are the study species, a fey focus would likely be studying correlations among resting metabolic rate, maximum metabolic rate, behaviour, performance and life history at the among individual level. This could involve
(a) longitudinal studies on trait relationships at the individual level,
(b) artificial selection on aspects of performance and/or behaviour to study co-evolution of related traits,
(c) manipulations of developmental environment to understand why traits are linked in particular ways.
Study animals might include invertebrates or zebrafish, but studies would likely be laboratory based. Students with interests in studying individual variation in physiology and behaviour are encouraged to contact A/Prof Pete Biro to discuss these or other areas of study that would be mutually interesting.
Applications will remain open until a candidate has been appointed.
This scholarship is available over 3 years.
- Stipend of $28,600 per annum tax exempt (2021 rate);
- Relocation allowance of $500-1500 (for single to family) for students moving from interstate;
- International students only: Tuition fees offset for the duration of 4 years. Single Overseas Student Health Cover policy for the duration of the student visa.
To be eligible you must:
- be either a domestic or international candidate currently residing in Australia. Domestic includes candidates with Australian Citizenship, Australian Permanent Residency or New Zealand Citizenship;
- meet Deakin’s PhD entry requirements;
- be enrolling full time and hold an honours degree (first class) or an equivalent standard master’s degree with a substantial research component.
Please refer to the research degree entry pathways page for further information.
Additional desirable criteria include:
- Interest and aptitude for studying behaviour and/or physiology, and for statistical modelling, in particular mixed effects models.
Emerging technologies for native wildlife assessment
Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Deakin University, School of Life and Environmental Sciences
This is a new fixed-term position funded by a grant to the Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment, School of Life and Environmental Sciences (LES) from the Bushfires and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre, in collaboration with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
This project will draw on expertise from Deakin’s schools of LES, Information Technology and Business and Law, in collaboration with Parks Victoria and the Arthur Rylah Institute. The project aims to develop, implement and evaluate new approaches to monitoring wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas and ducks. It will use field surveys alongside a range of sources of imagery of wildlife and machine (deep) learning to identify improved monitoring approaches.
The Research Fellow will initiate and conduct research, including field research, by implementing the funded project “use of emerging technologies for native wildlife population assessment and management”.
The Research Fellow is expected to contribute to the research output of the TechnEcology Research Network and the Centre for Integrative Ecology by publishing research in high impact peer-reviewed journals.
The Research Fellow will contribute to honours, postgraduate and staff supervision.
The Research Fellow will be responsible for project management, coordinating research activity, reporting and training across three subprojects addressing monitoring of kangaroos, koalas and ducks. Field components within the remit of this position include surveying kangaroos and koalas, with assistance and advice from other project staff and students.
If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Professor Don Driscoll, Director @ Centre for Integrative Ecology.
Full details about the position and how to apply is available HERE (PDF)
Niche segregation in sympatric short-tailed and wedge-tailed shearwaters
PhD Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by Professor John Arnould
Despite weighing only 500-600 g, with an estimated population size of ca23 million, the short-tailed shearwater (STSW) is Australia’s most numerous bird and the most significant avian marine predator in Australia, consuming over 300,000 tonnes of krill, fish and squid over the annual summer breeding season.
Its nesting distribution is restricted to south-eastern Australia, currently one of the fastest warming oceanic regions in the world. The anticipated oceanographic changes are likely to alter the diversity, distribution and abundance of prey for seabirds in the region with the potential to impact their breeding distributions. The wedge-tailed shearwater (WTSW) has a circumpolar distribution in sub-tropical/temperate regions. It breeds sympatrically with the STSW on islands along the New South Wales coast and allopatrically further north.
Over the last few decades, the abundance of WTSW has been observed to increase in NSW while the STSW has been decreasing in numbers and the northern extent of its distribution is receding. A new colony of WTSW recently established (alongside STSW) at Gabo Island, eastern Victoria, making it now the most southerly known breeding colony for the species (by several hundred km), a potential direct impact of the strengthening East Australia Current.
The presence of this rapidly growing colony provides a unique opportunity to compare the breeding and foraging ecology of both sympatric species in an area where one is expanding. Such information is crucial for understanding the factors which will control the breeding distribution, reproductive success and population trajectories of both species in response to climate change.
The project will involve GPS tracking to determine at-sea movements, accelerometry to assess foraging behaviour and energy expenditure, stable isotope analyses to investigate trophic niches and colony monitoring to assess reproductive success and nesting habitat needs.
The ideal candidate for this PhD project would have extensive field experience, well-developed statistical/numerical skills and writing ability.
Ecology of Falkland Steamer ducks
The Falkland steamer duck (Tachyeres brachydactyla) is endemic to the Falkland Islands and is one of three flightless steamer duck species (the other two occur in southern South America). They are common around the coastline of the Falkland Islands, and pairs defend territories throughout the year. Surprisingly, little is known about the species.
While the student will be encouraged to develop additional avenues of research, this PhD project will have four main components:
- Asses how breeding territory size relates to habitat quality, and breeding success. Deploy archival GPS tags and accelerometers to understand home ranges and time budgets of steamer ducks. In addition, transect surveys of the nearshore environment would be undertaken to develop metrics for habitat quality relevant to steamer ducks. In turn this will be used to quantify how habitat influences home range size.
- Census steamer ducks to update population estimate. This will involve ground surveys and fine-scale habitat mapping using UAVs, combined with satellite derived habitat data to develop and ground truth estimates of habitat and steamer duck density for the entire Falkland Islands coastline.
- To quantify pollutant exposure, and effect on breeding success.
- Quantify the winter dispersal of juvenile steamer ducks using novel tracking technology.
The PhD project will be a collaboration between several research organizations including Deakin University (Professor John Arnould), Australia, and the South Atlantic Environmental Research Institute (Dr Alastair Baylis) in the Falkland Islands. We are looking for a student with extensive field experience and well developed statistical/numerical skills.
Winter distribution and habitat use in adult and juvenile Australasian gannets
PhD Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by Professor John Arnould
Globally, seabirds are considered the group of avian species at most conservation risk from anthropogenic impacts. Knowledge of their habitat needs and responses to environmental variability is crucial to predicting how these species may respond to changes in their ecosystems.
While extensive research has been conducted on foraging ecology and habitat use in seabirds during the breeding season, comparatively little information is currently available for many species on the winter non-breeding period. However, this annual phase is known to be the most detrimental for adult survival in seabirds, with winter conditions also having carry-over effects for the next breeding season.
In addition, the conditions encountered during this time by juvenile birds, especially in their first year after fledging, can determine recruitment into the breeding population. Therefore, knowledge of the factors influencing winter habitat use, and how it impacts foraging success, survival and future breeding performance, is vital for understanding the drivers of population dynamics in these species.
The Australasian gannet is an important marine predator species in south-eastern Australia, contributing to substantial fish and squid biomass consumption over the region’s continental shelf. The area is also one of the fastest warming oceanic regions in the world, with anticipated alterations to oceanographic currents expected to lead to changes in the diversity, distribution and abundance of prey species.
This project will determine the at-sea movements, habitat-use and foraging ecology, and investigate their relationships with survival and future breeding success, in juvenile and adult Australasian gannets. The study will be conducted at two breeding colonies in northern Bass Strait that experience contrasting oceanographic regimes.
For this PhD project, we are looking for a candidate with extensive field experience, well-developed statistical/numerical skills and writing ability.
Determinants and consequences of personality in Australasian gannets
PhD Opportunity – Deakin University, supervised by Professor John Arnould
Understanding how individuals adapt to niche variability is central to predicting how populations and species may respond to environmental change.
Within all populations, especially within higher vertebrates, there is intrinsic inter-individual variation in how animals respond in various behavioural contexts due to what is commonly referred to in humans as “personality”. Such variability, also known as the “bold-shy continuum”, can have fundamental consequences for energy acquisition in foraging, avoidance of predators, and reproductive outcomes. Quantifying and determining the factors influencing this in free-ranging species, however, is inherently difficult.
This project will use a well-studied model species (the Australasian gannet), at two colonies of contrasting oceanic regimes, with unique data collection opportunities to address this fundamental question in seabirds, the group of avian species at most conservation risk from anthropogenic impacts.
In particular, understanding the degree of, and which factors influence, inter- and intra-individual variability in this species is important for predicting how it may respond to the anticipated environmental changes in the south-eastern Australia marine ecosystem, one of the fastest warming oceanic regions in the world.
For this PhD project, we are looking for a candidate with extensive field experience, well-developed statistical/numerical skills and writing ability.
Conserving koalas in a complex landscape
We are seeking candidates with interests in terrestrial wildlife ecology and conservation genetics, and experience in undertaking ecological field research.
The position is available only to domestic students. Applicants should have achieved an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in an Honours or a MSc research program and have proven skills in scientific writing.
The successful candidate will be offered a 3-year PhD scholarship (~$28,000 p.a. tax free) with potential for a 6-month extension through the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. The scholarship is fully funded by Hancock Victoria Plantations (HVP) who will also provide annual operational funding and in-kind support to the project.
The PhD candidate will be supervised by Dr Desley Whisson and Dr Adam Miller. The position is based at the Melbourne (Burwood) Campus but will involve considerable field work in South Gippsland.
The South Gippsland koala population is of high conservation significance due to its genetic uniqueness. However, little is known about this population to inform its conservation (Wedrowicz et al. 2018). The population occurs in a region where habitat is highly fragmented, and where establishment and harvest of forestry plantations result in a spatially and temporally dynamic landscape. Effective conservation of this population relies on an understanding of the population’s geographical extent, gene flow through the landscape, use of forestry plantations, and koala response to forestry management actions.
This project aims to improve our understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the South Gippsland koala population, and the response of koalas to forest management activities.
Specific objectives are:
- To determine the geographical extent of the South Gippsland koala population and patterns of gene flow/connectivity in the landscape;
- To understand koala behaviour and use of different habitat types including pine plantations that may provide important shade, cover, or links between native vegetation;
- To determine the impacts of pre-harvest translocation of koalas on koala health and movements.
This is an applied, multidisciplinary project combining studies of spatial ecology, conservation genetics, and wildlife health. Studies will involve surveys for collection and genetic analysis of scat, koala surveys across a range of vegetation types to identify factors influencing distribution, habitat use and behaviour, and a telemetry study coupled with scat analysis. The PhD student will have considerable input into study design.
Please note that submitting your expression of interest and CV is not a formal application for a Postgraduate Research Degree at Deakin. You will be advised by the faculty if you should proceed to applying for candidature and the scholarship.
The EOI Form and CV must be submitted by 19th July 2021.
Interested candidates may contact Desley Whisson (email@example.com; Ph: 03 9251 7302) to discuss the project and experience/skills required prior to submitting an application.
The effects of wetland management on microbial carbon breakdown in Australian wetlands
PhD position within the Blue Carbon Lab @ Deakin university
The PhD candidate will investigate how wetland restoration and management influences a key part of the carbon cycle – plant litter decomposition. It is a multidisciplinary project that combines microbial ecology, biogeochemistry and wetland ecology. This work sits within a larger research program investigating global wetland decomposition, TeaComposition H2O.
3-year program inclusive of a AUD$28,600 per year stipend, tax exempt. International applications contingent on COVID-19 restrictions. Domestic applicants may be prioritised.
Who should apply? The scholarship would suit a highly-motivated candidate with an interest in coastal and freshwater wetland ecology, biogeochemistry and/or microbial ecology. Applicants will require a first-class honours (or equivalent) or a Masters degree in a similar field. We are looking for a candidate who is independent and works well in an interdisciplinary team environment. Excellent written communication skills are desired. A driver’s license is required for the fieldwork component. Selection will be based on prior academic experience.
Research Environment: The PhD candidate will be principally supervised by DECRA fellow Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett and will work within Deakin University’s Blue Carbon Lab, led by A/Prof. Peter Macreadie, the School of Life and Environmental Science and the Centre for Integrative Ecology. The position is based at the Melbourne/Burwood Campus.
Applications open now until the position is filled. To apply, send firstname.lastname@example.org your CV and a cover letter outlining your research interests and experience and why you want to do this PhD. Please include contact details for two referees.
Population genomics of Australian alpine plants: Identifying vulnerable plant species and climate-ready seed sources
PhD opportunity – Deakin University (Warrnambool campus)
The ECOGENETICS LAB is seeking a PhD candidate to contribute to an Australian Research Council funded research program aimed at enhancing the resilience of Australian alpine plant communities through strategic restoration practices.
The Australian Alps are recognized as one of the world’s major biodiversity hotspots and critically vulnerable to climate change. Here, plant communities are already showing signs of climate stress, threatening environmental and associated cultural and socioeconomic values in the region.
The persistence of alpine plant species under climate change will largely depend on plastic responses or rapid evolutionary change. Some species will likely tolerate substantial environmental fluctuations via existing plasticity, while others are expected to be pushed to physiological limits and become increasingly dependent on evolving to maintain current distributions.
The PhD candidate will use a combination of common garden and genomic approaches to decipher the likely contributions of plasticity, local adaptation and gene flow to future adaptive responses in a range of functionally important alpine plant species. This study will help to improve biodiversity outcomes under climate change by identifying key plant species with reduced adaptive potential and in need of intervention, as well ‘climateready’ seed sources for restoration purposes.
This exciting project will involve a combination of field work in the Australian alps and lab-based activities, and partnerships with a number of government agencies and Australian universities. The position is based at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus and is available to both domestic and international students. The student will be supervised by Dr Adam Miller, Dr Susanna Venn (Deakin University), Prof Adrienne Nicotra (Australian National University) and Prof John Morgan (La Trobe University).
Applicants are expected to have an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in an Honours or a MSc research program, and proven skills in scientific writing. We are seeking candidates with a specific interest and experience in wildlife ecology, botany, or ecological genetics (not essential). The successful candidate will be awarded a 3-year PhD scholarship (~AU$28,000 p.a. tax free) through the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
Mechanisms underpinning the formation and stabilisation of coastal blue carbon
PhD position within the Blue Carbon Lab @ Deakin university
We are looking for a PhD candidate to join our ARC Discovery grant research on the “Mechanisms underpinning the formation and stabilisation of coastal blue carbon”.
Candidates can apply for either of these two projects:
MICROBIAL COMMUNITY GENOMICS WITHIN BLUE CARBON ECOSYSTEMS
The project will aim to address the following:
- Characterise the functional capacity of microbial communities associated with recalcitrant Blue Carbon;
- Investigate sequence variation in taxonomic groups, functional gene repertoires and metabolic potential;
- Provide significant insight into the higher-order community organisation and dynamics of coastal microbiomes, and their variation among habitat type and depth.
BIOCHEMICAL MECHANISMS OF BLUE CARBON
The applicant will need to:
- Characterise recalcitrant carbon within Blue Carbon ecosystems using NMR for particulate organic carbon (POC) and FT-ICR-MS for dissolved organic carbon (DOC);
- Identify mechanisms of formation and destabilisation of recalcitrant carbon and quantify the impacts of environmental controls;
- Coordinating all relevant analyses (ie. gas flux measurements, elemental analyses, and chemical characterisation).
How to apply: PhD applicants should email the following documents to Dr Stacey Trevathan-Tackett (email@example.com):
- CV highlighting your skills, education, publications and relevant work experience;
- Cover letter (1 page) outlining your interest in the position and how your previous experience and technical skills suit the position.
- Both projects are open to PhD applicants, who will be enrolled in a 3-year PhD based at Deakin University’s Burwood campus (Melbourne);
- We are UNABLE to provide individual feedback on competitiveness. The following features were common among PhD candidates interviewed at the Blue Carbon Lab: (a) First authored-paper in scientific journal, (b) first class Honours/Masters, (c) experience directly related to the project, and (d) an accolade that reflects the student being among the top in their academic cohort;
- Applications will be received until the position is filled.
PhD opportunity @ Deakin University – (Warrnambool campus)
Conservation genomics of the short-finned eel
The ECOGENETICS LAB is seeking a PhD candidate for a research program aimed at addressing critical knowledge gaps around understanding the resilience of short-finned eel fisheries in south-eastern Australia. The project will have a particular focus on the ancient ‘kuuyang” fishery within the UNESCO Budj Bim Cultural Landscape.
This exciting project will involve a combination of field and lab-based activities, and provides an excellent opportunity to develop key skills and knowledge in conservation and fisheries genomics. The project will be conducted in close partnership with Traditional Owners, local government, and industry.
This project will have three complementary research components:
- Undertaking population genomic analyses to gain insights into eel stock connectivity and spatial patterns of recruitment across the species range;
- Using eDNA tools to assess patterns of habitat use within catchments;
- Applying DNA metabarcoding approaches to assess eel diet based on the genomic analysis of eel stomach samples.
Outcomes from this study will provide new insights into the species life history and a resource for assessing the resilience of eel fisheries to environmental change and informing future management.
The position is based at Deakin’s Warrnambool campus and is available to both domestic and international students. Applicants should have achieved an excellent grade (e.g., H1 or HD) in an Honours or a MSc research program, and proven skills in scientific writing.
We are seeking candidates with an interest and experience in wildlife ecology, fish biology, or ecological genetics (not essential). The successful candidate will be awarded a 3-year PhD scholarship (~AU$28,000 p.a. tax free + $5,000 p.a. scholarship top-up from research partner) through the School of Life and Environmental Sciences.
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