HONOURS/MSC PROJECTS: Thermal tolerance and response to climate change in plants from extreme environments

Honours projects in the Nicotra lab this year will explore the microenvironmental conditions that alpine and desert species are exposed to and how these species cope with and evolve in response to extreme conditions in situ and under controlled conditions. Projects will be tailored to the interests of individual students and may involve field measurements around climate manipulations and sensor arrays, measurement of thermal tolerance in plants and investigations of phenotypic plasticity and the potential for rapid evolution. Projects may involve field trips to Kosciuszko National Park and the deserts of NSW as part of a team of enthusiastic researchers. 

Understanding the effects of climate change on natural populations is a driving force for environmental and ecological science today. The ability of plants or animals to respond to changes in the environment they experience can determine whether populations will survive or go extinct in a changing world. In particular the study of ‘phenotypic plasticity’, changes in response to environmental change, due to warming temperatures is a very active field of research, but our understanding of many fundamental issues is still unclear and will only be resolved by high-quality empirical experiments. 

We have a number of projects available in this area - with both field and controlled environment/glasshouse options with opportunities for field trips to the Australian high country and arid/semi-arid zone. We’re looking for enthusiastic, hard-working students who are interested in ecology, evolution and the environment.

We have honours/MSc project options that will make use of large-scale experiments already running. Visit the lab project pages for more information.