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Rewarding PhD opportunity Seed-sourcing strategies for climate-resilient post-mine revegetation

   Environmental and Conservation Sciences

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  Assoc Prof Rachel Standish  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Opportunity to address major threat to restoration

Accelerated climate change poses a critical risk to the long-term viability of post-mine revegetation plantings. Yet, tangible solutions to enhance their climate-resilience are poorly developed worldwide. Current practice is to use seeds collected locally for revegetation, as they are typically pre-adapted to local conditions. With local conditions changing due to climate change, this is no longer expected to be effective.

Novel conceptual framework

New seed-sourcing (provenancing) strategies are one of the most promising opportunities to increase climate-resilience in revegetation. These aim to capitalise on existing climate-adaptive genomic variation in plant species. Key prospective seed-sourcing strategies include 1, 2 :

• Climate-adjusted provenancing: seeks to build in a diversity of adaptive genetic variation by mixing provenances from a climate gradient in the direction of expected future change;

• Predictive provenancing: seeks to use seed already adapted to a climate projected for rehabilitation site at a given time into the future, by sourcing seed from sites with this climate.

These strategies show significant promise for reducing mine closure risk under climate change, but we now need rigorous testing using an embedded network experimental approach.

Robust experimental approach

Embedded network experiments involve embedding simple sets of comparative plots into on-ground revegetation efforts across a range of sites and contexts. They offer significant advantages over standard ecological experiments:

• tests are made in a real-world context;

• significant enduring experimental infrastructure is established, a crucial requirement for meaningful climate adaptation research, and can be assessed over a full range of timeframes;

• they can show where and under what circumstances new seed-sourcing strategies are effective, by testing across a wide range of contexts and species;

• partnerships between scientists and industry are forged to enable co-learning and development.

Who is involved?

Research partners: CSIRO, Murdoch University, Flinders University, Australian Genome Research Facility (AGRF) End-user partners: BHP, Newmont Mining Services, Hansons Construction Materials, Anglo American, New Era Total, Revegetation Industry Association WA

What’s in it for me?

A CRC TiME top-up scholarship. The proposed project has generous funding support for three years. The successful applicant will have expert supervision, technical support, and the opportunity to develop a network with research and end-user partners. The candidate will be based at Murdoch University.

What research is earmarked for me?

The successful candidate will work with supervisors and a well-supported project team to design and establish the experiment at about five sites around Australia. The candidate would be responsible for leading research on the early performance of experimental plant assemblages and factors affecting performance (e.g., soil chemistry).

The candidate would be encouraged to explore additional questions based on interest and experience. For further details or to indicate your interest, please contact A/Prof Rachel Standish ()

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