We have now entered the Anthropocene, an era where human transformation of the landscape through habitat loss (i.e. vegetation clearing) and fragmentation (McAlpine et al. 2009; Bradshaw 2012) is so extensive that we are now witnessing the sixth mass extinction (Ceballos et al. 2015; Young et al. 2016). In Dr Celine Frere’s lab, we are interested to understand the mechanisms by which animals can rapidly adapt to anthropogenic pressures. To do this, we focus our research on urban and non-urban adapters and combine the fields of animal behaviour, ecology and genetics.
The discipline of conservation biology is underpinned by evolutionary theory. For example, conservation biologists have long recognized the importance of population size and genetic variation for adaptive evolutionary potential. Similarly, the designation of conservation units and management plans are also embedded within fundamental evolutionary processes. Within conservation biology, evolutionary processes are, however, often characterised as a long-term concern, despite a growing amount of evidence that evolution of phenotypes and/or genotypes of wild species due to anthropogenic forces can and does occur in very short timeframes. This means that the effects of anthropogenic pressures can be rapid and could cause local extinction within a few generations. This project will utilise next-generation sequencing to determine genomic signals of anthropogenic pressures on species (e.g. koalas and dragons). We will specifically isolate two types of genes which are relevant to conservation– neutral ones to assess the disruption to connectivity, and adaptive ones that might help us assess whether this disruption could have serious management outcomes. This PhD project will require PhD students to spend significant amount of time in the field working with detection dogs and bioinformatics.
- Recipients of a USCRS must: Have completed a Bachelor Degree with First Class Honours, or be regarded by USC as having an equivalent level of attainment via previous study, relevant work experience, research strength, research publications and other research experience; and Maintain satisfactory progress as a full-time higher degree candidate at the University of the Sunshine Coast. In exceptional circumstances (e.g. heavy care commitments or a medical condition) a domestic awardee may apply to undertake part-time study.
- Selection criteria:
- Undergraduate degree with knowledge of genetics
- Research alignment
- Most recent and relevant degree
- Professional research experience
- Experience working with detection dogs
- Ecological survey experience
- Quantitative skills (eg. Programming in R)
- Eligible programs:
- Doctor of Philosophy
- Number available:
- Stipend commensurate with the RTP rate (2017 rate - A$26,682), Tuition Fees and Overseas Health Cover for the standard duration of the program (3 years for PhD)