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Student Opportunities

Projects on Offer – Updated 9/11/2020

We welcome unsolicited proposals from students who have ideas for honours, masters, or PhD projects. Please ensure you have thought about feasibility and funding.

We are currently seeking a PhD Student to work on the Deer Movement and Genetics Project, and related honours, Masters and PhD students to work on the Mass Mortality Project; full details below.

We are also looking for students to explore the factors affecting the diversity and abundance of scavenging insect assemblages, and to explore the longer term impacts of carcasses on insect community assemblages.

All projects on offer are broadly linked to ProjectOzScav – please see the following post for a recent update: ProjectOzScav

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please send your CV to thomas.newsome@sydney.edu.au

Deer Movement and Genetics Project

We are seeking a PhD student to work on an exciting new project: Deer movement and genetics in the Australian Alps (NSW region) to inform pest management

In collaboration with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Environment Trust Deer Project team we are seeking a PhD student to undertake the above project in Kosciuszko National Park (KNP) and adjacent privately managed lands.

Background

Deer are considered pests in NSW and the Environment Trust has granted NPWS $9.2 million over 8 years to develop a cross tenure feral deer management plan, including the development of a cost-effective ‘toolkit’ for application across other areas of NSW. A key component of the project involves tracking the movements and behaviour of deer, as a complementary element to ongoing deer monitoring and integrated pest control trials. 

Deer movement and genetics work:

The deer movement and genetics work will include: GPS collaring of sambar, red and fallow deer, collection of deer DNA and analysis of population structure (primarily sambar and fallow), collection of longitudinal deer behaviour knowledge from public and private land managers, and collection of ongoing observational data using qualitative and quantitative survey techniques.

This work will contribute the main elements of the PhD, which will answer the following:

To what extent can understanding the movements and behaviour of deer be integrated into pest management?

What are the implications for deer management across NSW and nationally?

How can behavioural responses of deer to intensive pest control influence pest management design and effort?

What is the local population structure and degree of interrelatedness of deer populations?

To what extent is there a local / external (inter or intra- district) population component? Can this knowledge be used to better focus management efforts?

Are there invasive source populations of deer affecting pest control efforts?

Are there barrier or conduits to deer movement through the landscape?

Benefits of the PhD project:

Significant in-kind project support via the Environmental Trust and NPWS Deer Project Team, including assistance in field work, equipment (aerial netting gear, GPS units, sampling kits, etc) and other key project costs. The student 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 and Dr. Catherine Grueber.

Australian candidates must be competitive to receive stipend support under the Research Training Program (RTP). A variety of scholarships are available for international students. The current RTP stipend rate at The University of Sydney is $35k tax free per annum. A top up scholarship of up to $10k per annum will be provided to a candidate who successfully receives an RTP stipend. If the selected candidate does not receive RTP support, we will consider funding a full scholarship at the rate of $40k per annum.

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 work and research experience, field experience in remote locations, publications, and ability to use programs like GIS, statistical packages like R and/or experience undertaking genetic analyses. A shortlist of applicants may be required to interview or meet the project team. A single applicant will be selected for the position and invited to apply for stipend support. The student will enrol in Q3 2021 (the next enrolment for RTP applications are due to The University of Sydney by 30th March 2021).

Expressions of interest will close 26th February 2021.

The Ecological Effects of Animal Mass Mortality Events

Animal mass mortality events (AMMEs) involve the rapid, catastrophic die-off of organisms. These events can produce many of tons of dead biomass in a single event, and they appear to be on the rise globally. In the past few years, Australia has witnessed a number of AMMEs, including the death of a million fish in the Murray Darling Basin due to algal blooms, thousands of cattle dying after floods in Queensland, the deaths of feral horses in central Australia from drought, and thousands of flying foxes dying from heat stress in New South Wales and Queensland. Humans also effectively simulate AMMEs when they undertake large scale culling of overabundant species. But while the causes of these events are known (e.g. poor water quality, drowning, drought, heat, and direct killing), we know very little about the consequences of AMMEs for ecosystems. For example: can vertebrate and invertebrate scavenger assemblages consume and disperse the vast quantities of carcasses that become available? Do carcasses attract and get scavenged by pest species? Do unconsumed carcasses result in unusual and excessive nutrient loads in surrounding areas, and does this affect plant growth, weed invasion, or have cascading effects on herbivore grazers? This project will answer these fundamental questions by simulating and monitoring AMMEs in the field. A key focus of the project will be the responses by scavengers including dingoes, red foxes, feral pigs, eagles, ravens, blowflies, and European wasps.

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The project has financial support from the Hermon Slade Foundation and in-kind support from a major NSW Environment Trust project led by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service.

The field work will be in and around Kosciuszko National Park, and students will work with local land managers and NSW Government Departments, including NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, and South East Local Land Services. Students will have an opportunity to work with colleagues in southern USA replicating similar experiments in systems where vultures and coyotes are the dominant scavengers. Support will also be provided from Dr. Philip Barton at Australian National University, Prof. Richard Duncan at University of Canberra, and Dr. Alex Carthey at Macquarie University.

Australian candidates must be competitive to receive funding under the Research Training Program. 

A variety of scholarships are available for international students.

Students will be based at The University of Sydney in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences Ecology, Evolution and Environment Cluster, within the Global Ecology Lab

For more information and to submit an expression of interest, please contact Dr. Thomas Newsome at thomas.newsome@sydney.edu.au

The expression of interest should include a cover letter and CV. Please include details of your degrees (including average marks), work and research experience, field experience in remote locations, publications, and ability to use programs like GIS, and statistical packages like R. You must have a current manual drivers license.

Further details on enrollment at The University of Sydney can be found below:

How to apply

Entry requirements

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