PhD projects: Conservation and Ecology of the Greater Glider

14 September 2020
[photo credit: Josh Bowell]

We have two potential PhD opportunities to participate in the Greater Glider Research Project under the supervision of David Lindenmayer and Kara Youngentob. This research project (sponsored by the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) seeks to identify suitable refuges for the Greater Glider within East Gippsland, Central Highlands and the Strathbogie Ranges of Victoria, and then to identify drivers and help develop strategies to limit decline. The Lindenmayer research group includes some of the Australia’s leading ecologists and conservation scientists. Research within the group addresses a diverse range of topics including fire, threatened species, mammals, frogs, birds, reptiles and plants. Past PhD graduates have a strong record of employment in academic, government and NGO sectors.

Project One:

This project will have a strong component of nutritional ecology and animal physiology and will involve a combination of field, laboratory, and possible work with existing captive gliders at the ANU. Part of this project will involve investigating interactions between the nutritional quality of browse and the occurrence of wild animals in a variety of landscape contexts. This work will require collecting leaf samples in the field for laboratory nutritional analyses and possibly captive feeding studies of animals. Other opportunities include the development and monitoring of next generation, thermally appropriate nest boxes (that we will engineer based on new insights into glider physiology and existing data on the thermal properties of preferred tree-hollows). The ideal candidate will have demonstrated a capacity to undertake fieldwork in remote and challenging forested environments. Previous experience with animal research in the field or lab is desirable. Some experience with data collection, curation, and analyses with R or similar statistical software is preferred. Laboratory experience would be beneficial but is not essential, since we can provide training. Good written and verbal communication skills will be very important.

Project Two:

This project will help determine how to best tackle the major drivers of decline for the greater glider through the analysis of long-term data on population trends and environmental variables. This will involve targeted studies of the interacting effects of microclimatic conditions, weather, stand structural complexity, browse quality, and animal physiology on populations to identify likely within-forest-type mesoscale refugia for the Greater Glider. A key outcome from this project will be the development of a Greater Glider refugia model for eucalypt forests incorporating species co-occurrence, disturbance, and other drivers. Other opportunities include developing models to predict the impact of various landscape management decisions on the nutritional quality of the landscape and local microclimates to help guide future conservation activities. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in and experience with modelling complex ecological datasets. Some experience with remote sensing data analysis is beneficial but not essential. There may be opportunities to collect additional field data and some experience with field-based work in challenging environments is desirable. Good written and verbal communication skills will be very important.


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. Successful candidates will have experience in environmental science or ecology and management. 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 Prof David Lindenmayer and must submit a CV with a one page statement of possible research directions by 16 October 2020. Please email David Lindenmayer (

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.