Invaders beware

1 11 2010

Recently, the Global Ecology Group at the University of Adelaide has had the immense privilege and pleasure of welcoming a new senior member to the fold – Dr. Phill Cassey. The slightly Pommefied-Kiwi-Now-Coming-To-Terms-With-Being-Australian ;-)  represents a wonderful new addition to our lab’s expertise and vision.

Phill is a distinguished Australian Research Council Future Fellow. He conducts research on the subject of human contributions to changes in biodiversity through the dual processes of species extinction and introduction. Phill’s research encompasses a broad range of analytical and applied skills and has led to significant advances in the discipline of global change biology.

Phill has also hit the ground running here in Adelaide, and now offers two PhD projects for people interested to work at the forefront of invasive species research in Australia. Students will be members of the School for Earth and Environmental Sciences, which includes world-class researchers in the disciplines of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Global Ecology as well as ongoing research links with the South Australian Museum, Adelaide Zoo, and State Herbarium of South Australia. Successful candidates will be part of a strong research group with a highly successful and innovative culture of scientific communication and study.

The first project is on the comparative biogeography of exotic vertebrate species in Australia. Exotic species pose a dire threat to Australia’s biodiversity and natural resources due to the speed at which they spread and the ecological and environmental damage they are capable of causing. In this project, the student will compile ecological, life-history, and range data on the overlapping distributions of exotic species in Australia. In collaboration with the Institute of Zoology, London the student will analyse how these distributions will be modified under different predicted models of environmental change.

The second project will examine the evolution of species traits during invasion colonisation. This project will test how dispersal capabilities vary among different populations of an expanding exotic species. In collaboration with the South Australian Museum, the student will collect data to directly parameterize, and test, different models of spread in a high-profile exotic species. This project will provide further empirical research to identify the behavioural and morphological traits affecting the distribution (and frequency) of dispersal events in exotic species, and to investigate the selective pressures upon them.

Interested applicants should first email Phill with an expression of interest and request an application form. Applicants must be Australian (or New Zealand) Citizens or permanent residents of Australia who are acceptable as candidates for a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide. Candidates should be highly motivated and must hold, or shortly expect to hold, a 1st-class Honours degree. Please include a current CV which should contain relevant information on your ranking within your year group, previous research experience, and a statement providing evidence of your interest in the subjects of invasion biogeography and global change biology.

Successful applicants will receive a PhD stipend of AUD$22,500 tax free per year, plus access to computing support, a well-resourced research project, and the possibility to attend an international conference during their candidature. As part of their professional development, the students will be provided with the opportunity to develop long-standing research skills in experimental design, data analysis, fieldwork and behavioural observation, distribution range mapping, and climate modelling scenarios.



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1 11 2010
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