Koala Conservation management and integrated ecological modelling
The Reprogen Animal Bioscience group in the Faculty of Veterinary Science in collaboration with James Cook University, Australian Ecosystems and San Diego Zoo is offering 3 exciting PhD opportunities in Koala conservation management, genetics and genomics. PhD number 3 is outlined below along with the overall scope of the project.
One of Australia's most iconic species, the koala, is under threat. Factors responsible for significant population decreases are multifactorial in nature. Underpinning this is a lack of understanding of the genetic diversity of populations across the species range, resulting in an inability to identify populations most at risk of local extinction. This information is needed for effective management of population viability, and for the setting of conservation management units. In order to develop sound management strategies and prioritise active intervention and management of populations at greatest risk three unique PhD opportunities offer you the opportunity to participate in frontline scientific discovery and ensure survival of this iconic species. You will be working with a team of researchers and industry partners to develop new tools for the scientific management of the Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) which will assist the Koala Species Survival Plan (SSP)Furthermore you will engage with wildlife conservation biologists at the Australian Ecosystems Foundation, national and statewide conservation groups and visit the frontline research unit in Koala genetics at San Diego Zoo. The Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research was established in 1975 and has a worldwide reputation for research and conservation of biodiversity. Their contributions in koala conservation are complemented by extensive ex-situ breeding programs, species recovery programs and reintroductions, and field conservation programs many of which are achieved through partnerships and collaborations. Their vision includes an emphasis on utilising the latest advances in science and technology to help conserve species worldwide and the work of the Institute for Conservation Research already incorporates an emphasis on the management of populations based on sound genetic information. San Diego Zoo holds the largest ex-situ collection of koalas outside of Australia and this collection has generated funds for in-situ conservation and research in Queensland Australia for the last 30 years through the Koala Ecology Group. The research group at The University of Sydney and James Cook University hold world edge capability in molecular genetics, animal genomics and molecular diversity and ecology across a wide range of species. You will be well supported with access to leading technologies and research capability. The three projects on offer are briefly described below.
Koala Conservation management and integrated ecological modelling.
The sample collection being accessed is the most comprehensive sample repository of Koala samples in the world. Many of the samples are highly descriptive in terms of location, age sex and other biophysical data pertaining to each animal. This project will combine genetic and ecological data to describe ecological exchangeability and assign conservation management units to the koala across the species range.Aims:
1. Undertake population viability assessments for critical southern koala populations based on levels of genetic diversity, demographic and ecological data and conservation value. 2. Using integrated genetic data (from PhD's 1 and 2) and ecological data, perform assessments of viability and connectivity within and between local and regional populations of koalas in each state and across the species range. Assess ecological exchangeability and prioritise koala populations most at risk of local extinction. Using this information assign conservation management units for the species.3. Integrate predictive data on climate change effects and using Geographical Information Systems model landscape corridors to restore gene flow and connectivity for koala populations, and to reduce edge effects on populations. Outline management recommendations for key populations at risk.Sampled populations will include those containing reintroduced French Island individuals with low levels of genetic diversity, as well as those containing original Victorian remnant populations. Ecological data will be used to assess populations with indications of low ecological exchangeability (eg., differences in morphology, fecundity) that may have been under selective pressure. Additionally, ecological data from the southern populations will be used to perform intra-population and inter-population viability analyses. A review of ecological data from populations and habitats in NSW, QLD, VIC and SA will be used for integrated assessments of connectivity within and between regions using GIS, for practical application to management including the identification of high priority conservation areas. This will be an adjunct to genotypic classifications derived from the population diversity analyses provided through NETVIEW where genetically distinct populations which are geographically separated will be deemed to be of low ecological exchangeability. Furthermore, genetic population substructures within a defined population can be used to maximize genetic diversity with populations to manage exchange and relocations. FURTHER DETAILS
For further details and initial discussion of project opportunities
Prof Herman Raadsma Reprogen Animal Bio-Science group, Faculty of Veterinary Science University of Sydney. Tel 02 9351 1603 e:email@example.com
Dr Kyall Zenger, Senior Lecturer James Cook University, Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, Townsville, 4811 QLD, Australia. Ph: +61-7-4781 6532 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Kellie Leigh, Executive Officer, Australian Ecosystems Foundation, www.ausecosystems.org.au Ph: 02 6351 4515 35 Crane Road Lithgow NSW 2790 Australia
Want to find out more?
The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 1644
Other opportunities with Professor Herman Raadsma
- Genetic diversity assessment of the koala: applying novel genomic methods and assessing genetic exchangeability across the species range
- Conservation Genomics and the significance of adaptive variation in the Koala
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