PhD Project: Barriers to restoration of invertebrate biodiversity and function in Australia’s temperate grassy woodlands

PhD project including top-up scholarship at The Australian National University (ANU).

A PhD project is available to conduct research on insect biodiversity in the temperate grassy woodlands of New South Wales.

Significant areas of grassy woodlands of NSW have been cleared and transformed for grazing and cropping. Restoration plantings have been established throughout the southwest slopes of NSW in an effort to reverse biodiversity declines and improve farmland resilience and productivity. Yet there are significant barriers to a large component of biodiversity – the invertebrates – and their ability to colonise and establish in restoration plantings, and therefore to return critical ecological processes to degraded landscapes.

The project will examine insect communities in restoration plantings and remnant vegetation and identify species traits that characterise colonisation success or failure. The project will also focus on invertebrate decomposers and their capacity to improve soil health and function in restoration plantings and adjacent farmland.

The candidate will have the opportunity to develop a project that examines insect and soil biota in a range of modified landscape contexts. The project may focus on a number of long-term research sites in NSW, and candidates must be prepared to undertake both lab work and extended field work. The research will be conducted within the Sustainable Farms initiative at the ANU and candidates will be supervised by Dr Maldwyn Evans, Prof. David Lindenmayer, and Prof. Saul Cunningham from the ANU and A/Prof Philip Barton from Deakin University.

There is a top-up scholarship of an additional $10,000 per year available for the student enrolled through the ANU. Candidates must apply for an RTP scholarship through the Australian National University.

For further information about the opportunities and project, please contact Dr Maldwyn Evans (ANU) m.john.evans@anu.edu.au.