The Global Ecology Lab is seeking 1 more PhD student to work on an exciting new project in collaboration with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is establishing 4 new feral predator-free areas to allow for the return of threatened and declining species and to restore essential ecosystem function and processes. Within these areas, The University of Sydney and WWF-Australia are assisting NSW NPWS to monitor extant and released species (PhD 1 – already filled) and carry out ecosystem health monitoring (PhD 2 – still open).
PhD 1: Assessing management intervention and reintroduction success
As the new fences are installed and feral predator removal completed, the student will have the opportunity to monitor how extant species respond through camera trapping. As new species are released the student will collect and analyse movement and behaviour data captured from VHF/GPS collars and aerial tracking to assess reintroduction success. The results will help inform ongoing management of the extant and released species, along with future reintroduction efforts.
PhD 2: Ecosystem health monitoring
As new species return to the feral predator-free areas there should be subsequent shifts in ecosystem function and processes. For this PhD, the student will monitor experimentally placed animal carcasses inside and outside of the feral predator-free areas to assess if there are differences in who uses the carcasses (vertebrate and insect scavengers), how long the carcasses persist, as well as changes to soil properties and vegetation growth as the carcasses decompose. The results will help inform species presence, but also how management interventions impact ecosystem processes linked to decomposition (nutrient cycling).
Benefits of the PhD projects
Both PhD projects have funding support for equipment, field work and other key project costs. Significant in-kind field support will also be provided by WWF-Australia and NPWS. Both students will be based at The University of Sydney in the School of Life and Environmental Scienceswithin the Global Ecology Labsupervised by Dr. Thomas Newsome. The outputs will help to refine conservation strategies for threatened fauna and increase our understanding of how Australian ecosystems function in the absence of feral predators.
Australian candidates for PhD 2 should be competitive to receive stipend support under the Research Training Program (RTP). The current RTP stipend rate at The University of Sydney is $35k tax free per annum.
The expression of interest should include a cover letter and CV. Please include details of your degrees (including average marks), relevant research experience, field experience, publications, and ability to use programs like GIS or R. Applicants may be required to interview or meet the project team.