PhD project: Living on the edge: thermal ecology of Australian alpine and dryland species

Opportunity Type: 
Student Opportunity
Closing Date: 
Thursday, October 31, 2019

These projects will suit students with interest and knowledge in plant evolutionary ecology, environmental physiology and/or ecological and evolutionary genetics

Overview: Of all the climatic factors determining species distributions, temperature is arguably the most important. It is extremes – rather than averages – that drive species evolution. So it is concerning that although extreme temperature events are increasing in frequency and intensity little is known about the breadth of thermal tolerance of plants from extreme environments. This information is crucial to understand species distribution and survival under future climate regimes.

This project will provide critical data on the physiological tolerances of nearly 50 Australian native species from a wide range of alpine and desert threatened ecological communities and will highlight within-species variation in those tolerances. By including both sensitive and community dominant species the work will not only provide predictive power for developing models but also specific insight for a broad range of species that will be directly applicable to decisions about on-ground management programs and potentially translocation projects.

We are looking for PhD and honours students to contribute a new project that explores the thermal breadth of Australian species growing in situ and under controlled environments. Our project is a collaboration between researchers at the ANU Research School of Biology, UTS Life Sciences, the Save our Species program of the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, the Australian National Botanic Garden and the Australian Botanical Garden at Mt Annan and the Universidad la Frontera, Chile.