New PhD position, applications due 8th Sept 2019

We have an exciting PhD project available: Connecting biodiversity risk assessment and natural capital accounting

IN the Conservation Science research group, Deakin University, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Centre for Integrative Ecology

Supervisors (Deakin): A/Prof Emily Nicholson and Dr Chloe Sato.

External co-supervisor/collaborator: Carl Obst (Institute for Development of Environmental-Economic Accounting)

Background: The global biodiversity crisis is causing ecosystem collapses and species extinctions at an unprecedented rate, eroding the capacity of the environment to provide essential services that sustain human well-being, economies and social fabrics. Multiple approaches have been developed to assess risks to biodiversity (for example the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the Red List of Ecosystems), to value the benefits it supports, and to account for stocks and flows of the benefits from natural capital. These approaches remain largely disparate, with limited exchanges between extensive ecological and economic knowledge bases and data.

The project: In this trans-disciplinary project, the PhD student will bring together different knowledge types and theory to improve the monitoring and management of natural ecosystems. The project will be co-supervised by quantitative conservation scientists and economists, both in academia and in practice. Specifically, the project will develop new theory, approaches and case studies that bring together the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems approach to ecosystem risk assessment, and United Nations environmental and ecosystem accounting approaches (UN SEEA EEA). Both are seeing rapid uptake around the world, with great scope for informing and supporting one another, but integration is in its infancy.

This exciting PhD project will develop case studies that combine assessments of risks to species and ecosystems, and quantify how the two relate to natural capital accounting approaches, with the aim of influencing global and national policy approaches and measurement standards. The project will include the compilation of models and data for a set of Australian and international case studies. The project forms part of an ARC Linkage grant on the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (LP170101143).

Selection criteria: The student should have:

  • experience and quantitative skills for data analysis and modeling, ideally in R (or a willingness to develop such skills),
  • an honours degree in environmental science, ecology/conservation, environmental economics or similar, with an excellent academic track record
  • demonstrated skills in written research outputs (thesis, and preferably a scientific publication)
  • capacity to work in a team environment, particularly an inter-discplinary team.

Please send a cover letter, a statement addressing the selection criteria and CV to Emily Nicholson ( by 8th of September 2019, to apply for this position. International or domestic students can apply; there is a scholarship associated with this position (please refer to the Deakin HDR website for conditions).

Supervision team: Emily Nicholson is a conservation scientist at Deakin University, whose research interests include measuring change in biodiversity, and predicting the impacts of change on biodiversity and the benefits ecosystems provide for people. Emily is co-leader of the Red List of Ecosystems theme within the IUCN. Chloe Sato is a postdoctoral research fellow involved in IUCN Red List of Ecosystem assessments in Australia, with experience in alpine ecology, ecosystems science, and biodiversity indicators. Carl Obst is a Director of the Institute for Development of Environmental-Economic Accounting (IDEEA Group), with extensive expertise in national accounts. Carl was the lead author and editor of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) – the international standard for this area of work.

Photo: Susanna Venn

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