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Title:

Masters & PhD Scholarships in Ecology & Conservation

Advertiser:

University of New England - Laboratory of Applied Zoology and Ecological Restoration

Location:

Armidale, NSW

Salary etc:

AU$28,092 p.a. tax-free

Three scholarships available at MSc/PhD level:

1) Conservation and Ecology of Freshwater Turtles

Freshwater turtles are threatened globally with over 60% of species at risk of extinction. In Australia, threats to populations of freshwater turtles include introduced predators, drought, and disease. Understanding threats to freshwater turtles and developing mitigation strategies to boost turtle population resilience is at the heart of our research program.

Three species of freshwater turtles occur in the New England Tablelands (northern NSW) in streams, dams and wetlands. The Bell’s turtle is a focal species, given it’s threatened status, endemism to the region, and restricted distribution within western flowing headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin.

There are several project topics relevant to various degrees (MSc, PhD), with specifics to be decided in collaboration with each student, according to their skills and interests. Broad topics include:

  • The impacts of inundation and temperature extremes on developing embryos
  • The effect of conservation strategies on reproduction success of turtles
  • Sociality of freshwater turtles and implications for conservation
  • The spatial ecology of freshwater turtles
  • The effect of environmental flow on freshwater turtle populations

2) Conservation Agriculture in Farm Dams of the New England Tablelands

Many agricultural livestock systems rely on farm dams and wetlands for clean drinking water. Yet cattle degrade dams and reduce water quality. This project aims to join ecology and agricultural science to underpin best management practice of farm dams.

By demonstrating links between water quality, livestock productivity and the environment, the research outcomes will assist farmers to protect their water resources by understanding the benefits of different management systems. The research project will extend the principles of conservation agriculture in an Australian context to enable production and conservation gain from increased water quality caused by improved farm dam management.

Farm dam management faces problems in poor water quality affecting production. The decline in habitat suitability also affects our aquatic wildlife. By determining to what extent and under which conditions our farm dam’s quality is increased, we will develop solutions that are mutually beneficial to farmers and conservationists.

The project will take place on the New England Tablelands at a mixture of naturally occurring wetlands that are managed under a range of conditions. This knowledge will have practical outcomes by allowing us to recognise the conditions under which environmental value can be gained from our aquatic resources.

3) Bushfire responses of threatened frogs

Frogs are threatened globally with over 40% of species at risk of extinction. In Australia, the amphibian chytrid fungus is a major threat to frogs. Understanding how disease and fire interact and developing mitigation strategies to enhance resilience of frogs is at the heart of our research program. Three species of rainforest frogs are threatened in the New England Tablelands. Populations of the New England Tree Frog, Stuttering frog, and Sphagnum frog were all subject to widespread wildlife in late 2019.

There are several project topics relevant to various degrees (Masters of Science, PhD), with specifics to be decided in collaboration with each student, according to their skills and interests. Broad topics include:

  • The status and distribution of New England Tree frog in drought affected rainforest
  • The effect of habitat change (forestry, fire, grazing) on amphibian chytrid fungus in rainforest frogs
  • The impact of climate change on rainforest frogs in New England Tablelands
  • The effect of fire recovery on rainforest frogs in the New England Tablelands
  • Acoustic monitoring of rainforest frogs

The Laboratory of Applied Zoology and Ecological Restoration (LAZER)

The research completed by LAZER strives to understand and mitigate threats to wildlife through experimental and empirical ecology, and community engagement. Our research is important to manage our natural resources and enable ecosystem functioning in a state of continuing environmental change in the world. Our study systems occur within the New England Tablelands, Murray-Darling Basin and Papua New Guinea. You will be part of a diverse laboratory that encourages collaboration and outreach. We encourage applicants from gender diverse, LGBTQIA+, persons with disabilities, all backgrounds and ethnicities.

Scholarship Information

The University offers RTP Domestic Stipend Scholarships for domestic candidates. This amounts to AU$28,092 per annum, tax-free for up to three years to support a full-time candidate of MSc/PhD. The level of the stipend will not be reduced over the period of the Scholarship.  In addition to the stipend, students will receive AU$3,500 p.a. as operational costs for research support toward their project. There is additional funding for operating costs through a federal bushfire recovery grant.

About Armidale

In an ideal location for environmental scientists and nature lovers, the University of New England is situated in the town of Armidale on the New England Tablelands. Surrounded by wild gorges, four types of rainforest and the headwaters of the Murray Darling Basin, the landscape is a naturalist’s dream. The University of New England owns several SMART farms which enable us to experimentally manipulate ecological treatments in our own back yard. Our very own Mount Duval nature reserve abuts the campus bringing echidnas, greater gliders and koalas as regular visitors.

The university boasts mountain bike tracks and prime climbing locations in close surrounds providing the opportunity for academic studies with an adventurous twist. Country life is vibrant with regular activities at the New England Regional Art Museum, local breweries and vineyards. A French Patisserie in town provides mouth-watering crepes for the refined palette and you can warm the cockles of your heart on mulled wine at Charlie’s wine bar on fresh evenings. Our community is diverse and represented by an active LGBTQIA+ contingent and many multicultural backgrounds.

How to apply:

View details

Date published:

10-Jun-2021

Closing date:

24-Jul-2021