PhD scholarship: Conservation Ecology of New England Endemic Granite Outcrop Plant Communities


University of New England


Armidale, NSW

  • Exciting Ecology PhD project leading knowledge development and conservation guidelines for threatened and endemic plant species in northern NSW
  • Based at the School of Environmental and Rural Science at University of New England, Armidale, a leader in high-impact ecological research
  • Work alongside an experienced team of researchers as part of a project funded by the Australian Government’s Wildlife and Habitat Bushfire Recovery program

The goal of the project is to increase ecological knowledge, establish monitoring guidelines, and deliver conservation outcomes for a range of rare and threatened plant species in unique granite outcrop communities of the New England bioregion.

The project will combine community and molecular ecology, by characterising genetic variation within and among plant species, and examining plant-insect (e.g. pollination, herbivory) and plant-soil (e.g. mycorrhiza) interactions that influence plant growth and reproduction.

The New England Batholith is one of the most significant areas of granite outcrop in Australia. Vegetation communities on granite outcrops are unique, yet there is very little knowledge on the ecology and fire responses of New England granitic plant communities, which include many endemic and threatened species.


  • A degree in Ecology, Environmental Science, or related field; combined with a first or second class Honours, or a Masters degree in a relevant field
  • English language proficiency (spoken and written)
  • Australian Driver’s License. 4WD experience desirable, or willingness to undertake 4WD training.
  • Physical fitness and capacity to conduct field work in remote and challenging rocky environments within UNE WHS guidelines.
  • First Aid certification (or ability to attain one)
  • An interest in working alongside industry partners and local stakeholders to deliver conservation outcomes.
  • A passion for science communication and the capacity to work both independently and as part of a team are important qualities.
  • We strongly encourage applicants from diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and identities.
  • Start time is negotiable, and the candidate will need to be based in Armidale for the duration of the project (remote start may be negotiable if required because of COVID travel restrictions).

The candidate will be joining the Saunders Ecology Lab and working with a diverse team of researchers working on a range of plant and insect ecology, conservation and ecosystem services projects. The candidate will have access to relevant training in field, statistical and molecular tools as needed. The School provides a laptop, desk and lab space, and operating funds of up to $3000 per year.

Scholarship information:

The scholarship provides a living allowance and is awarded on academic merit and research experience and/or potential. It also includes a tuition fee off-set.

  • AU$28,092 (2020 rate) per annum tax-free for full-time students, paid in fortnightly instalments with an additional $10,000 top up per year for operating expenses.
  • AU$14,046 (2020 rate) per annum, taxable, for part-time students, paid in fortnightly instalments with an additional $5,000 top up per year for operating expenses.

Three years full-time for a doctoral degree, two years for a research Master's degree. The duration of the scholarship cannot be extended.

How to apply:

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