Photo: Kristian Bell

PhD Opportunity: Optimising forest landscape management for conservation of beetle communities (University of Tasmania)

Closes 14 May 2021

Beetles are known to be sensitive to habitat modification by timber harvesting and wildfire. Beetle species vary widely in dispersal ability, feeding guilds and habitat requirements. Thus different approaches to plantation and native forest logging and configuration of unmanaged reserves within landscapes could have varying impacts on beetle communities. Likewise, the successional age of unmanaged forests subject to wildfire disturbance is expected to shape beetle community composition. This project will contribute to a large ARC study investigating the complex trade-offs involved between biodiversity conservation and timber production. It will investigate the characteristics of species that are resilient to particular management practices vs. those that are detrimentally impacted. The responses of numerous beetle species will be linked with timber yield/revenue data across contrasting management systems in a large landscape ecology study. The research aims to determine the ideal mix of reserves and management to optimise invertebrate conservation outcomes.

Fieldwork plans will be aligned to the larger project to survey biodiversity along a disturbance/age gradient. The candidate will contribute to other aspects of project conceptualization. There may be opportunities for global collaboration to compile/analyse datasets of forestry impacts on invertebrates.

The candidate will develop skills in critical thinking, project management, fieldwork, data analysis, writing and communication. It will prepare the student for future careers in research, or with government or non-government land management or conservation agencies.

Full funding (living expenses and fees) will be available for a strongly qualified applicant, either from the ARC Future Fellowship associated with the research, or via application for a competitive Australian Research Training Program scholarship. This project will be based in the Biological Sciences department at the University of Tasmania’s Hobart campus, under the supervision of Dr Sue Baker (forest ecologist) and Ass. Prof. Leon Barmuta (quantitative ecologist). UTAS Biological Sciences is a vibrant and friendly department with an active postgraduate student society. Hobart has a lively arts, food and music scene, farmers markets, and close access to outdoor pursuits like hiking, surfing, rockclimbing, mountain biking, diving.

For more information, please refer to and contact Sue Baker: or phone 0478 222 697.

The nominal closing date is 16th May, but this may be extended if needed to recruit a suitably qualified applicant.

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