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Conservation management of threatened New Zealand insects

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Tara Murray
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

New Zealand has a global reputation for being at the forefront of threatened species conservation. Terrestrial insects, however, are seriously under-represented in conservation research and management, despite being seriously under threat from land use change, invasive weeds, introduced herbivores and predators and climate change. Basic ecological and behavioural knowledge is often limited for endemic threatened insects and many of the tools regularly used in the management of iconic endangered vertebrates have not been adequately adapted and applied to insects.

We are seeking a highly motivated, field-competent student with excellent academic skills to undertake PhD research focused on threatened insect conservation in the South Island of New Zealand where species such as Canterbury knobbled weevil, robust grasshopper, foveaux looper, forest ringlet, flightless alpine moths and terrestrial braided river specialists are seriously under threat. Our lab at the University of Canterbury has a particular focus on dryland and alpine ecosystems. Although there is scope for the student to define the direction of the project research might include;

• Threats & threat mitigation
• Monitoring techniques to assess population trends & impacts of conservation & restoration actions
• Developing in-situ & captive rearing protocols
• Ecology, behaviour and interactions with host plants and natural enemies
• Assessment of translocation options to disperse risk

The ideal applicant will have a GPA of 7.0 (A-) or higher, a four-year bachelor degree with first class honours OR Master’s degree OR Postgraduate Diploma in an entomology, ecology, wildlife management or related field. Candidates must be super keen on the outdoors, have a valid driver’s licence and be willing to undertake field work.
The scholarship is available from 1 July 2018 (start date negotiable). Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Applications must include:
• A full Curriculum Vitae, INCLUDING your University transcript (i.e. list of grades).
• The names of at least two people who can act as referees, including comment on your academic skill and ability to conduct fieldwork.
• A statement of your research interests, outdoors experience, and when you could begin your PhD research.
• Evidence of English language proficiency. If English is not your first language, international applicants must meet the University’s English language requirements (e.g. IELTS ≥ 6.5; TOEFEL ≥ 90). See for details.

The University of Canterbury is located in Christchurch, on the east coast of the South Island, New Zealand with easy access to a range of unique coastal, lowland and alpine environments. The university have several field stations and facilities such as Cass ( and Mt John ( which are situated near populations of the threatened insects we are interested in studying.

Funding Notes

Scholarships available subject to a suitable student being found.

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