PhD: Brush-tailed rabbit-rat island translocation


Territory Natural Resource Management & Charles Darwin University



Salary etc:

Scholarship of $32,192 p.a. tax-free + $10,000 p.a top-up + relocation allowance

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate to investigate the establishment of a translocated population of a threatened small mammal species on a remote island in Northern Australia.

About the project

The PhD candidate will conduct research in conjunction with a translocation program to establish a population of the brush-tailed rabbit-rat on an island safe haven in Garig Gunak Barlu National Park (Cobourg Peninsula) in the Northern Territory. This is an exciting opportunity to conduct PhD research in a remote part of Australia working with scientists, park rangers and Traditional Owners on an important conservation initiative for one of Northern Australia's declining small mammals.

Research opportunities within the project involve:

  • Ecological, demographic and genetic research to inform population models to assist with adaptive management of the translocated population.
  • Comparing rabbit-rat populations on the island free from feral cats and feral herbivores with the mainland population on Cobourg Peninsula (where these threats are present) to gain greater insight into the impact of threatening processes on populations of declining native mammals.
  • Dietary research using scat DNA metabarcoding, in conjunction with movement and habitat use data, to assess resource use and diet selection in a novel environment relative to source populations.
  • Further research will be identified by the candidate.

Scholarship and supervision

The PhD candidate will be based in Darwin at the Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods in the Faculty of Science and Technology at Charles Darwin University and would need to successfully apply for an RTP scholarship prior to 12 April 2024 (approximately $32,192 p.a. tax free indexed annually). In addition, a top-up stipend of $10,000 p.a. will be provided. A relocation allowance of up to $2,000 is also available for RTP stipend recipients. The student will be supervised by Prof. Sam Banks, Assoc. Prof. Brett Murphy, and Dr Teigan Cremona at CDU, Dr Kelly Dixon at TNRM/CDU, and Assoc. Prof. Alex Kutt at NT Government DEPWS.

Eligibility criteria

To be considered for this opportunity, you must be eligible for a government funded Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship, have received first class Honours or equivalent, and have demonstrated remote fieldwork experience, preferably with small mammals. Experience in genetics, operating four-wheel drive vehicles (with a manual drivers' licence), working in sometimes challenging environments, and working with First Nations people is highly desirable, as is project management experience or transferable skills. The fieldwork component for this PhD opportunity will involve a significant amount of walking through remote, unmarked terrain, camping with limited or no amenities, and exposure to extreme weather conditions.


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