PhD Scholarship – Invasion Biology (Auckland, New Zealand)

A PhD Scholarship is now available in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Auckland, New Zealand. This scholarship will cover tuition fees and provide a stipend for 3 years from a University of Auckland–Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) jointly funded project on ‘Experimental establishment and eradication of plant pathogen and pest insect populations’.

The project aims to use experimental releases and eradications of biological control agents as proxy invasive species systems to identify key factors influencing the establishment, population dynamics and eradication of selected plant pathogen and insect species.

The project is supervised by Drs Darren Ward (Landcare Research & Biological Sciences, University of Auckland) and Eckehard Brockerhoff (Scion (New Zealand Forest Research Institute) & B3).

Value: $25,000 annual stipend plus tuition fees.

Tenure of award: Three years. Closing dates for applications: Thursday 24th March 2016 (late applications may be considered)


Biological invasions can be considered as a sequence of processes or phases including (1) transport and arrival in a country, (2) establishment of an initial reproductive population, and (3) population growth and spread. The second phase of the invasion process is critical as this is where the establishment of a small founder population occurs, and because the success of eradication of invasive species is much higher while populations are small. However, there is limited information about ‘actual’ establishments as most invasion events are detected only years after the event and there is rarely any knowledge of the original arrival, the pathway that was involved, and how many individuals were introduced. Likewise, there is usually incomplete information about the timing of establishment or the exact size and distribution of populations that are targeted for eradication.

Selection criteria

Master’s degree in biology, ecology or a related area;
understanding of statistics for ecological research;
experience with pathogen lab cultures and/or rearing insects would be beneficial;
practical field experience would also be beneficial (as the project will involve field work and travel within New Zealand)

How to apply: Applications should be sent electronically (.doc, .pdf) to the ‘Contact Person’, see contact details below.

Applications need to supply the following documents

University transcript of previous grades
Curriculum vitae (max 2 pages), especially outlining previous research experience and any publications (including websites, blogs)
Short statement (<300 word) about your ‘research interests & career goals’
Statement from a referee outlining candidate’s skill set previous research experience. Note: this statement must be sent directly from the referee to the ‘Contact Person’.
In order to be accepted as the candidate, the student must pass the criteria for enrolment at the University of Auckland.
It is hoped a decision about the successful candidate can be made by the 7th April 2016

The start date is flexible but ideally between May and July 2016. The PhD can either be based in Auckland and/or Christchurch.

Contact Person. Dr Darren Ward. Landcare Research, Private Bag 92170, Auckland, New Zealand Email:

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