PhD Stipend funded through ARC Discovery Project

Expressions of Interest are being sought from potential PhD students to test the common assumption that high biodiversity makes ecosystems resilient to disturbances.


Given the rapid rate of global change, it is critical that we test the common assumption that high biodiversity makes ecosystems resilient to disturbances. Observational studies documenting change after disturbance cannot identify ecological processes connecting diversity and ecosystem function, making field experiments that manipulate identical disturbances in ecosystems with different biodiversity essential.

Freshwater stream ecosystems are excellent model systems to test these ideas. This project will use field experiments that manipulate flow disturbances in streams replicated in low (south-west WA) and high biodiversity (Tasmania) regions and across gradients of chronic background stress imposed by agriculture to investigate how biodiversity sustains functional ecosystems, and how much diversity can be lost before the resilience of a stream is irrevocably compromised. Both benthic biodiversity and ecosystem processes will be measured.

There will be laboratory and smaller-scale field investigations to further unravel the underlying mechanisms, and the results will support food-web and community assembly modelling as the initial step to providing a synthetic platform to make predictions and test further hypotheses. The project is a collaboration between the University of Tasmania, Murdoch University (hosting the WA PhD student) and Massey University (New Zealand), and is funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Program.

Funding bodyMurdoch University ARC Discovery Project
Study levelPhD
ValueA Full Time Scholarship will carry a stipend of $27,596 per year.
DurationThe scholarship is available from 1 August 2019 for 3 years (with a possible 6 month extension).
RequirementsLikely discipline backgrounds for applicants are Ecology, Zoology, Plant Science

Eligibility criteria:
  1. A good understanding of the field of ecology.
  2. High level quantitative skills.
  3. Good written and verbal scientific communication skills.
  4. Ability to work as part of an interdisciplinary research team.
  5. Proven ability to work in remote locations, without immediate supervision, and able to supervise field assistants.
  6. Current driving license, manual and 4WD experience.
Apply by31 July 2019 or until a suitable applicant is appointed.
To applyTo apply, interested candidates should submit:
  1. a detailed CV
  2. expression of Interest (one A4 page maximum).
Please submit all your application documents to Professor Belinda Robson before 30 June 2019.
ContactPlease direct all questions about this scholarship to Professor Belinda Robson on 08 9360 2417.