*PhD 2020* Keep on growing? Individual dynamics of growth, parasites and ageing in wild kangaroos

Project Description

We are seeking applications from highly motivated and qualified candidates for a PhD at the Australian National University’s Division of Evolution and Ecology, within the Research School of Biology. Funding is available to Australian or New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

Some animal species continue to grow throughout their adult life. As a result, we can investigate individuals’ allocation of resources to growth versus other components of life history, such as reproduction, survival, defence against parasites and ultimately ageing. We are looking for a PhD student to work on a long-term study of a wild marked population of eastern grey kangaroos, in which marked individuals are monitored throughout their lives – including measures of theirs and their offspring’s growth across their lifespands. The project will also consider analyses of parasite burdens, to test for trade-offs between growth and immune function across life. It will consider the changing geometry of morphology with age (do kangaroos effectively change shape as they age?), and also test for a heritable genetic component. The student would also be free to investigate other aspects of interest, but one interesting theme would be to determine the interactions between these processes and the effects of a changing climate and of variation in population density.

Eligibility: Applicants should have an Honours degree or MSc in a related discipline, relevant research experience, and strong interests in animal ecology or evolution. The project will involve a combination of fieldwork at the study site of Wilsons Prom National Park, Victoria and analyses of long-term kangaroo life-history data. Parasitology experience is an advantage but not a prerequisite.

The Kruuk group works on a range of different questions about the evolutionary ecology of wild animal populations. We are a friendly interactive group, aiming for great science in a supportive environment, with interesting people asking interesting questions. More details are here: https://biology.anu.edu.au/research/labs/kruuk-group-evolutionary-ecology-and-quantitative-genetics, and a full list of publications is at https://scholar.google.com.au/citations?hl=en&user=dOMOMmwAAAAJ

The project will be jointly supervised with Prof Marco Festa-Bianchet at the University of Sherbrooke, Canada.

The Division of Ecology and Evolution at the Australian National University (ANU) (https://biology.anu.edu.au/research/divisions/ecology-and-evolution) provides an outstanding research environment with a world-class reputation. We work hard to provide excellent supervision and we take pride in providing an atmosphere that values intellectual rigour, inclusion, mentorship and fun. Graduate research students are well supported through internal funding, including for conference travel, and our research facilities are second to none. We have a thriving community of PhD students and Postdoctoral Fellows from around the world. Our graduates go on to productive careers in many areas of science and beyond.

The ANU campus is situated in the heart of Australia’s capital city, Canberra, which is ranked as the third best city in the world according to Lonely Planet (2018) and is Australia’s most liveable city (Life in Australia Report 2019). The ANU has an international reputation for research excellence and is ranked among the best universities in the world (QS World University Ranking 2019). 

Funding Notes

Candidates: These scholarships are only open to citizens and permanent residents of Australia and New Zealand. ANU scholarships are highly competitive, and cover all fees and a ~$27K stipend for up to 3.5 years (3 years initially, extendable by 6 months). In order to be put forward, you will need very good undergraduate marks and a first class honours or Masters by research (or be expecting to gain one by the end of 2019) or equivalent research experience.

Applications: To send in an expression of interest, please send: a detailed CV; full academic transcripts; a brief description of your research interests and how they intersect with this project; names of two or three academic referees. Please do this as soon as possible, but by mid October at the latest, as the University’s intenral deadline is 31st October.

Suitable candidates will be put forward for the ANU’s Research School of Biology programme for PhD stipend and scholarship.

*** Funding is available for both Australian and NZ applicants. Unfortunately funding for international applicants is not available, although applications are welcome from candidates with their own funding.

Further details about the funding are available here: