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Quantifying Ecosystems Services of Forest Fragments

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  • Full or part time
    Prof E Pendall
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Ecosystem services can be quantified using biophysical measurements from eddy covariance flux towers and remote sensing, and supported by biological and socioeconomic surveys. However, the value of the services is likely to be dependent on the sizes of the fragments and the urban context in which they are embedded. Our project is taking place in the greater metro area of Western Sydney, where rapid development is encroaching on the endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland. The goals of our project are to quantify responses of carbon sequestration and energy and water balances to variations in weather conditions, including heat waves and droughts; to evaluate spatial patterns in carbon stocks and fluxes across a gradient of urban development; and to evaluate the effect of fragment size and urban infrastructure on aggregated estimates of ecosystem services.

We seek a numerically skilled PhD student to participate in the project by conducting original research on relevant topics of mutual interest, with particular emphasis on ecosystem analysis to support modelling of carbon sequestration and energy balance using a range of ground-based and airborne sensors and instruments. The Institute offers field, controlledenvironment and laboratory facilities on the Hawkesbury campus of Western Sydney University. HIE manages the Cumberland Plains SuperSite and eddy covariance flux towers within the Australian Supersite Network and Ozflux facilities of the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN), and the EucFACE elevated CO2 climate change facility in mature native woodland. Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) with hyperspectral and LiDAR payloads for high-resolution mapping of canopy structure, function and health are available for the project. Additional laboratory equipment for environmental science investigations includes two laser-based greenhouse gas analysers (for CO2 , CH4 and their isotopes), a tunable diode laser for isotopes of CO2 , numerous infrared gas analysers, gas chromatographs, elemental analysers and flow-injection analyzers.

What does the scholarship provide?

- 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 excellent academic performance related to the proposed research.
- have proven skills in quantitative techniques such as statistical or numerical modelling, computer programming, and/or analysis of large data sets.
- possess excellent written and verbal communication skills.
- be enthusiastic and highly motivated to undertake further study at an advanced level.
- international applicants must also meet English language proficiency

How to apply

- Contact Professor Elise Pendall [Email Address Removed] to discuss your eligibility, the project requirements and your intention to apply.
- Complete the application form via the link http://
- 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_2020_023_HIE
- Submit to [Email Address Removed]
- International applicants must also meet English language proficiency

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