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Pushing the envelope: does range size limit eucalypt tolerance to warming

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, February 29, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The average climate across Australia is projected to warm 2.8 to 5.1 °C by 2090 with an increased frequency and intensity of heatwaves. Yet, fewer than half of the more than 800 species of eucalypts in Australia have native geographic ranges spanning more than 3 °C and high temperature tolerances remain largely unknown for eucalypts in general. As eucalypts are long lived, they cannot avoid these rapid increases in temperature by migration. Hence, the resilience of Australia’s existing forests and woodlands to climate warming will depend on their capacity to function at both higher mean and extreme temperatures. Are species with a narrow climatic range “climate specialists” that are at great risk of negative consequences with future climate warming? This project will determine how average and extreme temperatures affect leaf and tree carbon exchange by quantifying thermal sensitivity and acclimation. Do these traits differ predictably with species inferred climatic niche based on geographic range? Filling these knowledge gaps will greatly enhance our ability to predict the future of our forests in a warmer world.
The Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University is looking for a highly motivated and qualified candidate to undertake PhD research. The successful candidate will join a vibrant multi-institutional research team led by Professor Mark Tjoelker and supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery project grant entitled “Pushing the envelope: does range size limit eucalypt tolerance to warming?” Combining experiments and biogeographic modelling, the project expects to generate new knowledge on the comparative physiological responses of diverse eucalypt taxa to warming and heat waves in a higher CO2 world. The 3-year study will commence in 2020 and is based at the Hawkesbury Campus of Western Sydney University in Richmond, New South Wales, Australia.


• Domestic students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,000 per annum and a funded place in the doctoral degree.
• International students will receive a tax free stipend of $30,000 per annum. Those with a strong track record will receive a fee waiver.
• All International students are required to hold an Overseas Student Health Care (OSHC) policy covering the duration of their studies in Australia. The HIE will provide funding for a single Overseas Student Health Cover policy.
• The project will also provide substantial benefits in terms of additional operational funding for project fieldwork and data collection, and travel and conference attendance.


We welcome applicants from a range of backgrounds, who are keen to apply their skills to the project topic. The successful applicant should:
• hold qualifications and experience equal to one of the following (i) an Australian Bachelor Honours degree, (ii) coursework Masters with at least a 25% research component, (iii) a Research Masters degree or (iv) equivalent overseas qualifications.
• demonstrate strong academic performance in plant biology, plant ecology or forestry science.
• be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
• possess excellent written and verbal communication skills.
• have proven skills in quantitative techniques such as statistical analysis or computer programming.
• experience in plant gas exchange measurement and analysis is desired.
• International applicants must also meet English language proficiency


• 1. Contact Prof Mark Tjoelker () to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.
• Complete the application via the link :
• Compile your CV, contact information for two referees and a one-page proposal stating how your research interests align with the project aims.
• Ensure all documentation is certified according to Western Sydney University requirements.
• All applications and supporting documentation must be submitted directly to the Graduate Research School as follows:
• Use the email subject line: Application_2021_005_HIE
• Submit to

Closing date: 29 Feb 2020

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