Fully Funded Scholarships

PhD Scholarship in Floral traits of New Zealand tree species at Waikato University

Waikato University (New Zealand) and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research invites applications for a PhD scholar to conduct research on “Floral traits of New Zealand tree species”. The deadline for submission of application through email is 20 April 2018.

The University of Waikato and Manaaki Whenua Landcare Research are seeking an energetic, self motivated PhD student to work as part of a collaborative programme studying the floral traits of New Zealand rainforest tree species. The student will quantify key floral traits for a suite of native rainforest trees and develop a set of research questions to explore variation among and within species in these traits. Key traits include nectar quantity and quality, pollen quality and flower colour. Interspecific variation in these traits can be related to variation in other widely-measured leaf and stem traits.

Community-level variation in nectar and pollen quality and quantity can be estimated by matching trait data to vegetation plot data enabling the student to scale-up and develop a national – scale nectar map for New Zealand. The student will be enrolled at the University of Waikato with joint supervision by Dr Sarah Richardson at Manaaki Whenua, New Zealand’s Crown Research Institute specialising in terrestrial ecology. There will be op portunities to spend ti me at Manaaki Whenua in Canterbury, and for field wor k throughout New Zealand.

Key and unresolved questions could include:

  • What is the size of the nectar resource in native forests nationally?
  • What are the environmental drivers of nectar-producing species?
  • Do nectar-producing species form a distinct functional group that assembles along key gradients?
  • Do floral traits correlate with other floral traits, whole-plant traits, or are they independent of leaf, wood, root, and whole-plant trait spectra?
  • Can floral traits be predicted from phylogeny?
  • When applied to forest plot data and modelled with respect to environmental gradients, can we build predictive models of nectar availability and pollen availability in native forests?
  • Are they associations between nectar-and pollen-providing species and threats such that ongoing pressures on the NZ forest flora are likely to diminish or increase the nectar resource?

Requirements: Students with an MSc or equivalent degree in ecology are invited to apply. A strong academic record and good communication skills are essential. Previous research experience in plant ecology, plant traits
or floral ecology will be an advantage. Applicants will have a driving licence valid for New Zealand and will be comfortable working in field and laboratory environments.

English Language Requirements:

  • IELTS 6.5 overall (no less than 6.0 in writing)
  • iBT (internet based TOFEL) 90 with a score of 22 in writing
  • Pearson PTE Academic 65 with no less than 58 for each communicative skill
  • Waikato Pathways College Successful completion of Level 8 with a B grade average in the Certificate of Attainment in Academic (CAAE) Programme.

Benefits: The successful applicant will be supported by a doctoral scholarship from a NZ MBIE Endeavour Fund research programme (NZ$27,500 per annum tax-free stipend, plus tuition fees, for 3 years). The project
is expected to commence in 2018.

Application procedure: Applicants are required to provide the following:

Curriculum vitae, including the names of two academic referees;
Academic transcript;
A brief statement describing their previous experience in plant ecology, and why they wish to study
for a PhD in plant ecology at the University of Waikato and with Manaaki Whenua.Enquiries

Application Submission: Both enquirers and applications should be sent by email to Associate Professor Mike Clearwater (mike.clearwater@waikato.ac.nz). Mike Clearwater is Associate Professor at School of Science (University of Waikato, New Zealand.

Deadline: 20 April 2018

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