Job: Research Associate in Mammalian Morphology-Environment Interactions

15 02 2021

This might be a little outside the realms of ‘conservation’ per se, but put has a lot of ecology-evolution components, with spin-off applications to modern conservation. Please spread the word.



The Research Associate will investigate how the skull of extant mammal populations varies according to their environment, with a focus on the interaction between mega-herbivores and vegetation change.

The project aims to understand the relationship between evolved morphological adaptation and phenotypic plasticity in changing local environments. The Research Associate will extrapolate this knowledge to the iconic extinct Australian megafauna, with the aim of establishing how changing conditions of the past might have contributed to the demise of the Australian megafauna.

The candidate will be expected to work within a large group of collaborators at Flinders University and interstate, and supervise postgraduate students. The collaboration environment includes teams of national and international researchers, and will particularly integrate research in Global Ecology Lab led by Corey Bradshaw, and Chris Johnson‘s lab at the University of Tasmania. The candidate will be expected to liaise with academic, administrative and technical staff according to the University’s policies, practices and standards.

Key position responsibilities

The Research Associate will be responsible for:

  1. Developing multi-faceted hind- and forecasts of mega-herbivore (and potentially other species) adaptation through time:
    • Developing a large-throughput workflow for digitizing, landmarking, and analysing the shape of selected marsupial and placental mega-herbivore species (with potential to extend to carnivorous species as well);
    • Linking shape variation from population to interspecific level with high-resolution vegetation maps of Australia, with the aim to establish “reaction norms” of shape variation at each level;
    • In collaboration with the Global Ecology and Johnson labs, integrating hindcasted vegetation models to understand the likely distribution and morphological adaptations of extinct megafauna;
    • Contrasting marsupial and placental mega-herbivore adaptation scopes.
  2. Contributing to progress reports ensuring ARC CABAH grant obligations are met, including recommendations on future directions of focal research.
  3. Contributing to the preparation and output of reports, research publications, etc. as required.
  4. Liaising with staff, students and external collaborators.
  5. Supervising students within the lab.
  6. Any other responsibilities in line with the level of the position as assigned by the Supervisor and/or the University.

Key position capabilities

  • Completion of a PhD or equivalent degree (or thesis submitted) in vertebrate evolution, ecology, or palaeontology;
  • Demonstrated commitment to research excellence;
  • Well-developed research skills, demonstrated by publications in leading scientific journals and conferences (for early-career researchers);
  • Demonstrated proficiency with R-based geometric morphometrics (essential);
  • High-level verbal, written communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to work both independently and collaboratively and engage with external research partners;
  • Ability to provide supervision and assistance to students within the research team;
  • Experience with quantitative comparative methods and/or phylogenetics (desirable);
  • Experience with palaeo-ecological data (desirable);
  • Demonstrated ability to work effectively as a member of a research team as well as conducting independent research and undertake project leadership (desirable).

Employment type: Fixed-term

Position summary: Fixed-term, full-time available for 3 years

Compensation trade: Research Academic Level A

Salary range: AU$76,955 — AU$93,259 per annum

Reporting to: Associate Professor Vera Weisbecker, College of Science & Engineering

Information for Applicants

You are required to provide a suitability statement of no more than three pages, addressing the key capabilities of the position as outlined above. In addition, you are required to upload your CV.

A valid National Police Certificate which is satisfactory to the University will also be required before the successful applicant can commence in this position.

We are seeking to increase the diversity to improve equal opportunity outcomes for employees, and therefore we encourage female applicants, people with a disability and/or from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders descent to apply.

Please note, late applications and applications sent via agencies will not be accepted.

Applications close: 23:59 08 March 2021

About Flinders

Our bold vision, captured in our Strategic Plan: making a Difference: The 2025 Agenda, is to be internationally recognised as a world leader in research, an innovator in contemporary education, and the source of Australia’s most enterprising graduates.

To realise this ambition, we recently made a significant organisation change to a six College structure with a professional staff and services alignment.

We recognise the key to our success is exceptional people and we’re seeking an outstanding individual to join the team of our transformed university.


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