Division of
Natural and Applied Sciences

Two PhD scholarships assessing the effects of rewilding in Australia 

Interested in how native animals influence ecosystems? 

We are looking for two enthusiastic PhD candidates to explore the effects of rewilding on invertebrates, soil microbes and functioning associated with re-introduction of native marsupials across multiple sites in New South Wales, Australia. 

Australia’s ecosystems are heavily impacted by invasions from introduced carnivores, herbivores and the loss of native vertebrates. The removal of introduced species and reintroduction of native fauna – referred to as rewilding – are being implemented as strategies for ecosystem restoration. Despite this, there is limited knowledge of how invertebrate fauna, soil microbes and their associated functions are impacted by rewilding. Understanding this is critical for determining rewilding success and exploring the role of ecological interactions in regulating ecosystem functions. 

The overall aim of the project is to assess how the rewilding of carnivorous and insectivorous mammals alters the invertebrate communities, with a strong focus on both macro- and micro-invertebrates, soil microbial assemblages and functions. The students will be given opportunities to explore direct impacts on invertebrates, microbes and functions through field observations and further develop experimental manipulations to test changes in fundamental ecosystem functions, such as herbivory, seed dispersal and predation, litter decomposition, nutrient cycling across arid and mesic ecosystems in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. 

The students will also have access to extensive monitoring data collected by the rewilding program. The project will be based at the HIE with the opportunity to work closely with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment’s (DPE) National Parks and Wildlife Service and the Restoration Science Team, an expert team of terrestrial ecologists within DPE’s Science Economics and Insights Division. The HIE is a research institute within Western Sydney University that has rapidly become a research leader in demonstrating the importance of biodiversity to functional ecosystems and has a strong reputation for delivering high-quality research. The project is co-funded by Western Sydney University and DPE. 

For more information please see: 

https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/schools/grs/scholarships/current_scholarships/current_scholarships/the_role_of_rewilding_in_restoration_soil_microbial_diversity_and_ecological_functions
https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/schools/grs/scholarships/current_scholarships/current_scholarships/the_role_of_rewilding_in_restoration_invertebrate_biodiversity_and_ecological_functions

Applications close September 30. 

Best, 

Uffe 

_____________________________________ 

Uffe N Nielsen 

Associate Professor | Soil Invertebrate Ecology 

Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment 
P: 02 4570 1131 | E: u.nielsen@westernsydney.edu.au    
westernsydney.edu.au/hie