Evaluate resilience endemic conifers

Evaluating the resilience of long-lived endemic conifer species to climate extremes: refining interpretation of palaeoclimate records from tree-rings

Degree type


Closing date

27 March 2023



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Tasmania hosts a number of endemic Gondwanan species that live for hundreds to thousands of years.  These species have been instrumental in developing long climate reconstructions for the Southern Hemisphere. The reconstructions are heavily based on statistical evidence of seasonal climate sensitivity, but evidence suggests that reliance on these statistical approaches may be in critical need of reappraisal.  Additionally, contemporary changes in climate that are likely to impact plant growth in ways that are not currently fully understood. These impacts may include threats to long- or short-term resilience of species.  To improve our understanding of the implications of these changes on growth and to also improve interpretation of the palaeoclimate record available from these trees, much finer resolution information on growth response to climate is required.

This interdisciplinary PhD project will span palaeoclimatology and plant physiology. It aims to improve our understanding of the responses of tree species to climate, including responses to climate extremes, through high-resolution monitoring of growth across multiple sites and species. The successful applicant will work with a palaeoclimatologist (Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences: (https://www.utas.edu.au/technology-environments-design/geography-and-spatial-sciences) to apply new understanding to climate reconstructions from the properties of tree-rings of these species and with a plant physiologist (Plant Science, in Biological sciences: https://www.utas.edu.au/natural-sciences/biological-sciences ) to interpret impacts of climate on the species and their geographical distributions. Through this project, the successful applicant will develop high level programming and statistical analysis skills, the ability to obtain detailed physiological information from plants. By traversing traditional disciplinary boundaries, the successful applicant will also develop a broad collaborative network that can be expected to provide multiple avenues for further work.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Kathy Allen


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 $31,500 per annum (2023 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.


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:

  • Undergraduate degree and Honours/Masters in geography, biological sciences or a related discipline
  • Evidence of good quantitative research skills
  • Evidence of ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Excellent communication skills, high level of proficiency in English
  • Ability to undertake field work in remote locations

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Programming skills (e.g. R/Matlab/Python)

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Kathy Allen to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. 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 by the advertised outcome date.

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