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

25 June 2021

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


Candidate requirements

We will consider candidates from backgrounds including conservation genetics/genomics, conservation biology, habitat/landscape management, ecology.

A top-up scholarship is available to potential or current students who:

  • Are a domestic student;
  • Have a Bachelor degree with First class Honours (or equivalent academic qualifications);
  • Have successfully obtained an offer of admission to a PhD program in the area of conservation biology, evolutionary biology or genetics/genomics in the College of Science.
  • The successful candidate must apply for, be awarded, and continue to hold, an approved ANU HDR Base Stipend Scholarship, at the minimum RTP base rate.


Application process and closing dates

Interested individuals are invited to submit an expression of interest to Dr. Linda Neaves ( stating their interests and ideas for a proposal, and including their academic transcript(s) and CV. The positions will remain open until filled.


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.

Updated:  29 June 2021/Responsible Officer:  Director, Fenner School/Page Contact:  Webmaster, Fenner School