Seeking applications from highly qualified and motivated candidates for a PhD program of research on the ecological impacts of cat eradication on Christmas
Island. The student will join Eve McDonald-Madden’s group in the Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science, University of Queensland, with joint
supervision from Parks Australia staff, and others.
Cats and black rats have had a devastating impact on Christmas Island’s unique ecosystem since their introduction by the first settlers about 125 years ago. Through predation, competition and as vectors of disease, they have contributed (with other threats) to the extinction of four of the five native mammals once found on the island, and the extinction in the wild of three of CI’s five endemic reptile species. They continue to exert pressure on the only remaining native mammal species (the CI flying-fox) and other endemic species like the white-tailed tropic bird, hawk-owl, thrush, emerald dove, goshawk, CI frigatebird and the giant gecko.
In response to the threats posed by cats and rats, Parks Australia has collaborated with other organisations to begin a program that aims to eradicate cats from the island.
However, preliminary qualitative modelling suggests that cat control could result in complex impacts on threatened native species, with the potential for negative impacts arising if cat reduction allows the numbers of black rats to substantially increase.
In this project, the student will work with the cat eradication program to identify and measure key indicator species in the Christmas Island ecosystem that will allow managers to understand, and adapt to, the changes in the community caused by the cat control program. The research is likely to include experimental manipulations of black rats, carried out in tandem with the cat control, to help tease apart the species interactions and thus revise our understanding of the ecosystem model.
The student will be part of a team of managers and researchers who are collaborating to improve conservation outcomes for Christmas Island.
The successful candidate will have skills in vertebrate field ecology and data analysis; experience in decision science would be useful, but not essential.
Closing Date for Applications: 15 April 2016
For more information, click here.
160331_PhD Christmas Island feral cats (1613 KB)
In only 60 years Australia has lost over 90% of a type of forest that once covered 130,000 square kilometres, and could be losing plants with important medicinal uses.
One of Northern Australia’s rarest animals will be helped by a new monitoring technique developed by a Charles Darwin University research student. Butler’s Dunnart, discovered by famous adventurer Harry Butler in 1965, is so rare it was only seen 8 times in the next 37 years.
Tiny sound recorders will be set up near the nests of South-eastern Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, as part of ground-breaking research to monitor the nesting habits of the endangered species.
Low numbers of Eastern Barred Bandicoots in Victoria have resulted in low genetic diversity which is a threat to plans to rebuild numbers in breeding programs. A new partnership is addressing the issue with an innovative breeding program which is introducing Tasmanian genes to the Victorian population.
Booderee National Park is welcoming the return of locally extinct mammals. Long-nosed potoroos and southern brown bandicoots have already been reintroduced to Booderee after being locally extinct for up to a century, and now preparations are underway to welcome a third threatened species, the eastern quoll, back to the park.