PhD project: Spatial and structural drivers and determinants of snow-gum dieback

14 September 2020

Spatial and structural drivers and determinants of snow-gum dieback

Widespread decline and death of high-elevation forests and woodlands, associated with outbreaks of native Cerambycid beetles, is prevalent throughout the Australian Alps. The full extent of snow-gum dieback and the relation between presence and severity with landscape attributes, disturbance, stand-structural and plant physiological traits are unknown. We are offering an opportunity to contribute to knowledge on snow-gum dieback within a project focussed on landscape mapping, forest dynamics and ecophysiology. The research project will be nested within a larger research program aimed at developing pathways to slow dieback outbreaks and guide and restoration actions. The project would include:

  • modelling the relation between landscape attributes and disturbance,
  • quantifying association between dieback, ecosystem structure and plant phenotypic traits
  • integrating dendrochronological dating of dieback-affected stands


Duration and benefits

Three years full-time with a possible six month extension. The successful applicants will be offered a PhD top-up stipend of AUD$7000 p.a. in addition to RTP scholarship – see below.


Candidate requirements

A bachelor’s degree with first-class honours or a research master’s degree from a recognised university is a prerequisite. Peer-reviewed publications are an advantage as is experience in sub-alpine ecology and fieldwork. Selection is based on academic merit and the candidate’s research proposal.

Domestic students must obtain and maintain a PhD scholarship stipend at The Australian National University (2020 rate: AU$28,092 per annum tax free; see below). Candidates would be expected to commence their doctoral programs in early 2021.


Application process and closing dates

Interested domestic candidates are invited to discuss the project with Dr Matthew Brookhouse and must submit a CV with a one page statement of possible research directions by 16 October 2020. Please email Matthew Brookhouse (

The closing date for domestic applications for a PhD stipend scholarship at The Australian National University is 31 October 2020. See Queries regarding scholarship matters can be directed to Katie Liesinger at


Research at the Australian National University

In the latest World University Rankings, The Australian National University was the top-ranked institution in Australia for environmental research. The Fenner School of Environment & Society has a large, dynamic community of PhD students who are provided with high quality office facilities, computer and statistical support, and access to field equipment, laboratory facilities and a fleet of 4WD vehicles. Students are encouraged to collaborate widely and attend national and international conferences.