Thomas Newsome

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New PhD Student Opportunities

The Global Ecology Lab is seeking 2 PhD students to work on an exciting new project in collaboration with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Background

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) and carry out ecosystem health monitoring (PhD 2).

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 Sciences within the Global Ecology Lab supervised 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.

PhD stipends

Australian candidates 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. However, this project has funding to fully support the stipend of 1 PhD student at a rate of $34k tax free per annum, with priority given to funding the student linked to PhD 1.

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please contact Dr. Thomas Newsome at thomas.newsome@sydney.edu.au [lab website: https://thomasnewsome.com/]  

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. A single applicant will be selected for each PhD position and invited to apply for stipend support. The student will enrol in Q3 2022 (note that enrolment and RTP applications are due to The University of Sydney by 31st March 2022).

Expressions of interest will close 16th March 2022


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