PhD in Invasive Species Ecology
An exciting opportunity exists to undertake a PhD aimed at understanding the causes and consequences of alien plant invasions in a highly dynamic ecosystem, the extensive braided rivers that are a major feature of New Zealand’s eastern South Island. Braided rivers are naturally dynamic systems as a consequence of highly variable river flows and associated floods, and support a unique native biota that includes endemic species of plants, lizards, invertebrates and river birds. Human-induced changes to natural flood regimes, as a consequence of river damming and water extraction, appear to trigger a cascade of effects in these ecosystems initiated through invasion by alien plants.
We are seeking a motivated candidate to undertake a PhD that will focus on understanding the drivers of alien plant invasion in braided river ecosystems, and the cascading effects of invasion on the structure and function of these ecosystems. We anticipate the work will combine historical data on water flow regimes with extensive surveys of alien plants to quantify the relationship between environmental change (e.g. frequency, intensity and scale of flood disturbance) and plant invasions, and the consequences of this for other biota. This will provide opportunities to test and apply general ecological ideas (e.g., the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, the role of disturbance in facilitating invasion, invasion meltdown) to a natural ecosystem that is ideally suited to these investigations, with clear applications to management. The candidate will need to undertake fieldwork in sometimes remote locations in the braided rivers of New Zealand’s South Island. In addition to peer-reviewed science publications arising from the PhD, the results of the study are expected to help in managing invasive weeds and pest animals in braided river systems where natural flow regimes have been altered. This PhD is part of a project involving staff from the Bio-Protection Research Centre, Lincoln University, Landcare Research, and Environment Canterbury, and the successful candidate will join an active and dynamic group of invasion ecologists based at Lincoln University.
You can find out more about our work here: http://bioprotection.org.nz/project/world-leading-biosecurity/weed-dynamics-and-invasion-processes
To apply for the scholarship ($26,000/year plus $5,000 fees for 3 years) please send a cover letter outlining your suitability for the position, a CV with the names and details of two academic referees and a document addressing the following selection criteria to Prof. Richard Duncan Richard [dot] Duncan [at] lincoln [dot] ac [dot] nz , Prof. Philip Hulme Philip [dot] Hulme [at] lincoln [dot] ac [dot] nz , or Dr Andrea Byrom ByromA [at] landcareresearch [dot] co [dot] nz .
Enquiries about the position should be addressed to Prof. Duncan either by email or by phone on +64 3 321 8969, or to Dr Byrom either by email or by phone on +64 3 321 9629. Applications close on 15 June 2012 and the applicant must be available to start the position by January 2013 at the latest.
+ Completion of 1st-class or good second-class honours degree or a Master of Science (MSc) - essential.
+ Interest and experience in invasive species ecology
+ Interest and experience in quantitative research design, methodology and analysis
+ Interest and experience in undertaking field-based research
+ Experience with plant identification, vegetation surveys or phytosociology
+ Ability to work in remote locations that frequently experience extreme weather
+ Willingness to engage with external stakeholders, such as private companies, regional councils, and government departments
+ Excellent interpersonal and oral communication skills
+ Willingness to work as part of an interdisciplinary team
+ A current driver's license
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