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)
Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ) Rangers in the Martu Determination have collaborated with Threatened Species Recovery Hub scientists to design a monitoring program for mankarr (the greater bilby). Martu people identified priorities for the bilby monitoring program, then worked with Dr Anja Skroblin from The University of Melbourne to co-develop a monitoring method which brings together Martu knowledge and practice with Western conservation science.
I am a proud Murri from the Kamilaroi Nation in north-west New South Wales. I grew up in western Sydney on Darug land and now live in Canberra on Ngunnawal land.
A new project is aiming to increase city kids’ connections with nature, threatened species conservation and Indigenous culture. Dr Georgia Garrard from RMIT University talks about this project, which will see Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Traditional Owners working with kids at Carlton North Primary School in Melbourne and Gunditjmara Traditional Owners working with kids at Heywood Consolidated School in western Victoria.
For the Larrakia Land and Sea Rangers, the sight of a shell midden in coastal saltpans tells a long history of culture and how their ancestors are connected with the intertidal and mangrove environment. Through a different lens, the Larrakia Rangers also see these shell middens as areas where their culture overlaps with the habitat used by the Critically Endangered migratory shorebird the far eastern curlew.
Threatened species on Indigenous land may be of prime interest to scientists and ecologists, but they are often not the species of greatest importance to the Indigenous landowners. Understanding local priorities for biodiversity is an essential step in ensuring that conservation projects are locally beneficial and supported. Researcher Tom Duncan from Charles Darwin University has been collaborating with the Tiwi Land Council and Tiwi Land Rangers to explore this issue on the Tiwi Islands.