PhD project: Restoring farmland for eastern barred bandicoot recovery in Tasmania

Opportunity Type: 
Student Opportunity
Closing Date: 
Friday, April 17, 2020

I am seeking an excellent and motivated PhD student who is passionate about a career in conservation and ecological restoration. The project is based in the School of Natural Sciences at the University of Tasmania.

The project title: Restoring farmland for eastern barred bandicoot recovery in Tasmania

Description:
The eastern barred bandicoot (Perameles gunnii) was previously widely distributed across northern and eastern Tasmania. It has progressively disappeared from the Tasmanian Midlands over the last 30 years and small populations in the north and northeast are under threat. Bandicoots forage in open grasslands, which puts them at higher risk of predation by feral cats. Key threats are thought to be a combination of high cat densities and destruction of structurally complex ground cover, in combination with a warming and drying climate. These threats coalesce in the most productive parts of the landscape, where soil moisture and structure provide the best conditions for both bandicoots and agriculture. The project will use wildlife cameras, trapping and movement tracking techniques to study eastern barred bandicoots in northern Tasmania to answer the following questions:
1. What is the species abundance across the West Tamar and northern part of the Northern Midlands (Longford, Carrick, Perth etc)?
2. How do bandicoots use the landscape? Where do they forage and take refuge and how far from cover do they move? This information will show what elements of habitat bandicoots need to persist and flourish in these landscapes.
3. Can changes in abundance be measured in response to restoration interventions (revegetation or stock exclusion)?
4. Is toxoplasmosis a significant threat to bandicoot populations?

Research and career opportunities:
This project provides opportunity to engage with both the applied and theoretical aspects of species conservation and restoration of ecological function in anthropogenic landscapes. The project will provide knowledge and recommendations for habitat restoration and recovery of eastern barred bandicoots in farmland in Tasmania and will involve collaboration with government and non-government conservation agencies. The science will be grounded in an understanding of the ecological interactions between bandicoots, their habitat and invasive and native predators, the processes which influence their abundance and persistence in the landscape.

Contact: Professor Menna Jones - Menna.Jones@utas.edu.au