Beetle conservation in forest landscapes

Optimising forest landscape management for conservation of beetle communities

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

This PhD projects will survey the diverse ground-active beetle communities in Tasmania’s beautiful forests. The project will involve fieldwork in unmanaged reserves and old-growth forest, previously harvested forests and recent fire-impacted sites in a landscape ecology study. Beetles are known to be sensitive to habitat modification by timber harvesting and wildfire. Beetle species vary widely in dispersal ability, feeding guilds and habitat requirements. Thus different approaches to native and plantation forest management could have varying impacts on beetle communities. This project will contribute to a large ARC study investigating the complex trade-offs involved between biodiversity conservation and timber production. It will investigate the characteristics of species that are resilient to particular management practices vs. those that are detrimentally impacted. The responses of numerous beetle species will be linked with timber yield/revenue data across contrasting management systems in a large landscape ecology study. The research aims to determine the ideal mix of reserves and management to optimise invertebrate conservation outcomes.

Fieldwork plans will be aligned to the larger project to survey biodiversity along a disturbance/age gradient. The candidate will contribute to other aspects of project conceptualization. There may be opportunities for global collaboration to compile/analyse datasets of forestry impacts on invertebrates.

The candidate will develop skills in critical thinking, project management, fieldwork, data analysis, writing and communication. It will prepare the student for future careers in research, or with government or non-government land management or conservation agencies.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Sue Baker


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements .

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Excellent written and verbal English and scientific communication skills
  • Fieldwork experience
  • Fit, able, and willing to work in remote field areas, sometimes in difficult conditions and basic living arrangements
  • Current driving licence
  • The PhD must be undertaken on a full-time basis
  • A good understanding of ecology or conservation biology and interest in contributing to biodiversity conservation
  • Species identification capacity (ability to learn beetle species identifications rapidly – good visual memory required)
  • Ability to both work independently and to collaborate and work effectively as part of an interdisciplinary team, including supervising volunteer field assistants and liaising with land management agencies

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Proficiency with statistical analyses including multivariate community ecology statistics, e.g. in R
  • Spatial analysis skills (e.g. training in GIS)
  • Previous publication of research in international peer-refereed journals

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Sue Baker, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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