Phd scholarship: Alpine plant thermal and drought tolerances under extreme climates

Opportunity Type: 
Student Opportunity
Closing Date: 
Thursday, August 29, 2019

An exciting opportunity is available for a highly motivated and qualified PhD candidate to join the Extreme Plant Ecology Lab at Deakin University, Burwood, Melbourne. Through a combination of field and laboratory-based studies, and utilising key research infrastructure via the Australian Mountain Research Facility (AMRF), we are seeking a competent PhD candidate to address the knowledge gaps surrounding thermal and drought responses, by simulating a future micro-climate environment with experimental treatments using shrub, forb and graminoid species that are representative of ecosystems across the Australian Alps.

Project background:
While mountains are generally considered to be cool environments, the strong solar radiation can cause the surface temperatures of plants, bare soil and rocks to far exceed air temperatures. Leaf temperatures are also affected by a plants’ habit (prostrate, standing, cushion, rosette), pubescence or reflective tomentum. Different plant statures within a stand and variable micro-topography can also lead to considerable differences in plant temperature at small scales. While there is some information about the freezing resistance of Australian alpine plants, very little is known about how extremes in both low and high temperatures, and the combination of extreme climate events (i.e., heat-waves and drought), will impact on plant growth, performance and reproduction. The resilience of the alpine landscape in the face of dramatic climate changes is therefore unknown.

The candidate will join the supportive and interactive Extreme Plant Ecology Lab at Deakin University’s Burwood campus in Melbourne. Depending on the project scope, the candidate will have the opportunity to develop skills field ecology, seed biology, manipulative experiments and data analysis, as well as to conduct fieldwork on the Bogong High Plains, Alpine National Park, Victoria and in the Snowy Mountains, Kosciusko National Park, New South Wales.

The Deakin University Postgraduate Research Scholarship will be offered on a competitive basis, based on past research history (Masters or Honours degree results), peer-reviewed publications and the candidate’s skill-set. A stipend of AU$27,596 is available for a maximum of 3 years, and a re-location allowance for interstate or international candidates for singles and families from AU$500-$1500 may also be offered. https://www.deakin.edu.au/courses/fees-scholarships/scholarships/find-a- scholarship/rtp-and-duprs

An anticipated commencement date is September 2019. Please get in touch via email (below) for more information, and be prepared with a 1-page statement of research interests, current CV, academic transcripts and two academic referees reports.

Extreme Plant Ecology Lab
Dr Susanna Venn (Susanna.Venn@deakin.edu.au)
https://susannavenn.wordpress.com