PhD and Honours project opportunities
Opportunities exist for prospective PhD and Honours students in conservation policy analysis, in Australia and globally, and woodland bird conservation, especially in Queensland. Feel free to contact us if your ideas align with our other research areas, too. Note in particular the advice on scholarship eligibility and what information to attach to your enquiry. Information about scholarships for postgraduate research at The University of Queensland is available here. If you are an international applicant for PhD candidature, please take care to familiarise yourself with the scholarships for which you might be eligible, and note they are highly competitive.
Managing threats to the temperate and subtropical woodland bird community
80% of eastern Australia’s temperate woodlands are gone, and the classically Australian woodland bird community that is bound inseparably with them is disintegrating. Over 40 species are threatened with extinction at State and/or Commonwealth levels, including species such as the regent honeyeater and speckled warbler. Restoring Australia’s woodlands is crucial not only for the many threatened bird species that rely on them, but for the long-term functioning of the woodlands themselves. With such a large number of co-occurring bird species under threat, and more likely to be listed if threats are not abated, developing integrated approaches that most cost-effectively deliver on-ground management is key. We have projects available evaluating, and developing solutions to, key threats, such as landscape transformation from clearing and weed invasion, and increasing interspecific competition with native Noisy Miners, which is now listed as a Key Threatening Process. There are currently opportunities for postgraduate research projects on: 1) exploring impacts of yellow-throated miners and invasive buffel grass on woodland birds in Queensland; 2) comparing woodland bird survey snapshots from across a 25-year period to infer local extirpations of species, and examining how interannual variation affects our ability to detect trends; 3) developing a suite of woodland bird community metrics to track community condition across Australia and 4) evaluating declines in grey-crowned babblers in south-east Queensland. Prospective Honours or PhD candidates interested in projects in this area should contact Martine Maron firstname.lastname@example.org and send a CV and transcript of undergraduate results. Applicants for PhD candidature will need to apply for and obtain an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent scholarship (information available at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/scholarships-and-fees).
In 2021, the nations of the world are due to agree to a new global framework for biodiversity conservation. It is expected to include goals of net gain in ecosystem extent and integrity, and in abundance of wildlife populations. However, at the same time, development imperatives continue to cause biodiversity losses. Minimising such pressure is key – but ‘net’ gain implies some impacts will still occur, but be counterbalanced with gains. How feasible is this? Some mechanisms exist – for example, biodiversity offsetting involves attempting to compensate for environmental damage at one location by generating ecologically equivalent gains at another location. Usually the stated goal is ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity. This policy approach is increasingly being used in an attempt to reduce conflict between development (e.g. for mining and urbanisation) and conservation. However, despite rapid worldwide growth in offsetting, biodiversity offset decisions are often ad-hoc, nonstrategic, and made within a policy framework whose long-term implications are poorly understood.
The program of research aims to better understand how to align global net gain goals with the reality of development pressures on the ground, and develop approaches that reduce the risk of poor outcomes for biodiversity from offset trading. Prospective PhD candidates interested in projects in this area should contact Martine Maron email@example.com and send a CV and transcript of undergraduate results. Applicants for PhD candidature will need to apply for and obtain an Australian Postgraduate Award or equivalent scholarship (information available at http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/scholarships-and-fees).