PhD opportunities: eDNA Technology and Brown Snake Relocation (2 projects)


Australian National University



PhD project 1: The use of eDNA technologies to support conservation and restoration

Interested in a PhD using environmental DNA (eDNA) and genetic tools to inform conservation and management?

We are seeking PhD applications to join an exciting inter-disciplinary collaboration exploring the impacts, complex relationships and potential consequences of management actions for multiple species in the increasingly urbanised environment in the Australian Capital Territory.

The potential impacts of urbanisation, introduced predators, domestic and even native grazers can have detrimental consequences for a range of native species, such as the elusive and threatened pink-tailed worm lizard. However, management actions can alleviate these negative impacts and, in the case of grazing, may benefit the ecosystem, through control of weeds and maintenance of disturbance/succession regimes.

Determining effective management options requires an understanding of the complex trophic relationships between organisms and an ability to detect and track often elusive threatened species. Traditionally, this has not been easy to address, but advances in eDNA approaches provides a means for assessing diet and tracking individuals through analysis of the DNA from scats and other sources of eDNA. Opening up new lines of evidence which can inform management decisions.

The project will use leading eDNA technologies to explore the detection of, and trophic interactions among species in the Ginninderry landscape in the ACT, focussing on three key components in this system - red fox, large native and domestic grazers and the threatened pink-tailed worm lizard.

The unique information obtained from this work will not only expand our understanding these species and potential interactions between them but, importantly, will directly inform management and conservation efforts in this landscape.

PhD project 2: Investigating the spatial ecology, behaviour and welfare of translocated eastern brown snakes in the ACT

Interested in a PhD exploring Eastern brown snake ecology and conservation in the bush capital?

If so, we are seeking a highly qualified and motivated PhD applicant to join an exciting trans-disciplinary and mixed-method collaboration between sociologists, ecologists and science communication scholars at the ANU.

The PhD project investigates the spatial ecology, behaviour and welfare of translocated eastern brown snakes in the ACT. Snakes have been routinely translocated from urban environments and private properties for several decades, however, the animal welfare issues contingent on this activity are rarely considered or documented. There is a growing body of evidence on various species of snake that shows the detrimental impacts of translocation.

Therefore, this PhD project will seek to critically investigate this issue by addressing the following questions:

  • What threats do translocated snakes face?
  • Can they find thermally suitable shelter sites?
  • Do they maintain body condition?
  • Do they have larger home ranges than resident snakes and how long does it take to establish the range?
  • What physiological and environmental factors might effect these ecological processes?
  • What are some of the ecological implications of mass snake translocation in and around urban environments?

How to apply:

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