PhD opportunity: Safeguarding Biodiversity in Forest Landscapes - 3 projects available on birds, plants & beetles


University of Tasmania - Biological Sciences


Hobart, Tasmania

Salary etc:

Tax-free PhD stipend

Three PhD projects are available to investigate birds, beetles and plants in Tasmania’s beautiful forests. The projects will involve fieldwork in unmanaged reserves and old-growth forest, previously harvested forests and recent fire-impacted sites in a landscape ecology study.

Tension exists between the role that forest ecosystems play for timber production and biodiversity conservation. The degree to which managed forests provide habitat for biodiversity is poorly understood, yet many plant and animal species are sensitive to the impacts of timber harvesting, as well as to disturbance by wildfires.

Frequency data for plants and animals will be integrated with information about timber yields and revenues using the land sparing vs. land sharing framework. The research will determine the optimal mix of reserves and forestry practices to deliver timber production at the least cost to biodiversity, and document the impact of wildfire on species assemblages.

This project will contribute to a large Australian Research Council Future Fellowship funded study investigating the complex trade-offs involved between biodiversity conservation and timber production. Fieldwork plans will be aligned to the larger ARC project to survey biodiversity along a disturbance/age gradient. There will be opportunity to contribute to other aspects of project conceptualization.

There may be an opportunity for global collaboration to compile/analyse existing datasets of forestry impacts on biodiversity; the project will involve some advanced data handling and statistical analysis.

These PhD projects will help develop the candidates’ skills in critical thinking, project management, fieldwork, data management and analysis, writing and communication. It will prepare the students for future careers in research, or with government or non-government land management or conservation agencies.

Full funding (living expenses and fees) will be available for strongly qualified applicants, either from the ARC Future Fellowship, or via application for a competitive Australian Research Training Program scholarship. This project will be based in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Tasmania’s Hobart campus, under the supervision of Dr Sue Baker (forest ecologist), with co-supervision by: Birds - Prof. Menna Jones (vertebrate conservation biologist); Plants – Prof. Greg Jordan (botanist); beetles – Ass. Prof. Leon Barmuta (invertebrate ecologist, ecostatistician).

UTAS Biological Sciences is a vibrant and friendly department with an active postgraduate student society. Hobart has a lively arts, food and music scene, farmers markets, and close access to outdoor pursuits like hiking, surfing, rockclimbing, mountain biking, diving.

How to apply:

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Date published:


Closing date:

open until a suitable candidate is found