x2 Honours projects available – Assessing risk to alpine ecosystems under a changing climate

If interested, please contact Emily Nicholson ASAP at e.nicholson@deakin.edu.au


Start date: Ideally, Semester 2 2020 (applications due to Deakin on 15th June, after discussion with us). Possibly Semester 1 2021.

Project or research area description:

The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems (RLE) is the global standard for ecosystem risk assessment, with application across terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. Alpine ecosystems are highly vulnerable to climate change, but remain under-assessed in the RLE. The honours projects will focus on ecosystem risk assessment of alpine ecosystems in Australia, with a focus on risk under changing climate regimes – we seek 2 students to work on this topic.

Specifically, the students will each assess 1-2 Australian alpine ecosystems using the IUCN Red List of ecosystems criteria, in collaboration with a larger team of researchers, experts and practitioners. Candidate ecosystems include alpine streams, lakes, meadows and heaths (open for discussion with the supervision team). This will include preparing ecosystem descriptions, collating and synthesizing knowledge and historical data (spatial and temporal) on the distribution, function and condition of the ecosystems, assessing the ecosystem against the RLE criteria, and documenting the process through an ecosystem assessment and thesis. The student will develop skills in communication and liaison (with experts and practitioners), data analysis, ecosystem risk assessment using the global and national standard, and scientific writing. The projects will link in with a large network of alpine field ecologists, conservation scientists and practitioners, including the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI).

The student should have:

  • an undergraduate degree in environmental science, ecology/conservation or similar, with an excellent academic track record
  • quantitative skills for data analysis and modeling, ideally in R, and/or a willingness to develop such skills
  • demonstrated skills in written and oral communication
  • capacity to work in a team environment, particularly an inter-disciplinary team.

Principal Supervisor: A/Prof Emily Nicholson (Deakin University, co-lead of the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems)

Principal Supervisor contact details: e.nicholson@deakin.edu.au

Associate or External Supervisors and their contact details:

Dr Chloe Sato, postdoctoral research fellow on alpine ecosystem risk assessment, c.sato@deakin.edu.au

Dr Susanna Venn, alpine ecologist, susanna.venn@deakin.edu.au

Dr Tracey Regan, senior scientists at the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI, Victorian Government).

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