Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers

Project information

Dung beetles fill an important ecological niche as one of the few taxa to actively break down mammalian dung, cycling nutrients into the soil and altering the microclimatic conditions within the dung itself which is a microhabitat for dung breeding pests and greenhouse gas emitting microbes. Australia has a unique community of dung beetles as a result of the large scale introduction of African and European species as part of the original Australian Dung Beetle Project (1965-1985). In an effort to reduce pasture fouling and control growing populations of dung breeding pests such as the Bush Fly 43 species of dung beetle were released of which 23 remain successfully established. Despite the success of the project there still remain seasonal and geographic gaps where dung beetle activity is minimal.

The University of New England is located in the heart of the Northern Tablelands, an area recognized for the production of high quality livestock and wool, and is ideally suited to such a project. The doctoral student position is available in the Insect Ecology Laboratory headed by Professor Nigel Andrew.

The successful candidate will utilise a combination of field and laboratory experiments to quantify the ecosystem services provided by introduced dung beetles and the influence of biotic and abiotic factor on the provision of these services. The project provides an opportunity to work closely with producers and land managers as well as other universities.

The project is offered as part of the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineers (DBEE) project and funded by Meat and Livestock Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources under the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program. The DBEE is a large scale collaborative project between a number of public and private enterprises including the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the University of Western Australia, Charles Sturt University, Meat and Livestock Australia, Landcare Research New Zealand, and grower and community groups. It aims to quantify the ecosystem services provided by dung beetles across southern Australia and to introduce new dung beetles to fill seasonal and geographic gaps where the provision of services is minimal

Scholarship Information

The School of Environmental and Rural Science at the University of New England is offering an exciting PhD project within the following scope/s:

- The role of dung beetles in nutrient cycling and carbon storage in different soils
- The effect of dung beetles on drought resistance in pasture plants
- The role of dung beetles in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions
- The influence of resource quality and competition on the population dynamics of dung beetles
- Examine the influence of dung beetles on the greenhouse gas generating microbial community
- How dung beetle community structure affects the provision of ecosystem services across a variety of temporal scales

The University is offering an RTP Domestic Stipend Scholarship for the successful domestic candidate. This amounts to AU$28,092 per annum, tax free for up to three years to support a full-time PhD candidate.

Selection Criteria and Desirable Attributes

The candidate should have a current Australian drivers licence, and experiencing working with insects in applied systems. The candidate will be based in Armidale under the supervision of Professor Nigel Andrew.

How To Apply

Applicants must meet UNE’s admission requirements for a PhD program. Please see the entry requirements. Applicants must submit a candidature application if they wish to apply for a scholarship. For more information on submitting a candidature application please see our how to apply/enrol webpage.

To apply for the scholarship please review the relevant application guidelines and complete the application form:

Scholarship and candidature applications can be submitted through AskUNE.

About Armidale

Armidale, a vibrant university city recognised as a centre of culture, is well served with art, music, theatre, sport and public and private education. To explore our region, visit:  www.armidaleregion.com.au/ and http://www.experiencethehighs.com.au/

General Enquiries

Enquiries may be emailed to Professor Nigel Andrew

Closing Date14 February 2020
Scholarship Amount$28,092 p.a.
Scholarship DurationThree (3) years
Applicant StatusDomestic applicants only

Scholarship ID Code: S20/01