One of the most hotly debated topics in population and conservation biology is what is the best strategy for restoring small and endangered populations. When population augmentation (assisted migration and genetic rescue) is required, there are many open questions around the optimal genetic composition of source material to minimise the risks of outbreeding depression yet maximize evolutionary potential. Despite its importance, there is currently a lack of theoretical and experimental work to inform on-ground restoration practices. By combining new theoretical modelling of polygenic adaptation, with reciprocal transplants and experimental evolution, we will answer a number of outstanding questions including: (1) what is the optimal genetic composition of introduced material to ensure short and long term survival? (2) How does this change with trait genetic architecture and environmental fluctuations? This project is an international effort involving researchers from IST Austria (Nick Barton, Melinda Pickup, Himani Sachdeva). The applicant will be embedded within this established and multidisciplinary team and be a member of the internationally recognized Centre for Ecosystem Management in the School of Science.
Desired Skills: Very strong quantitative and programming skills (R or Python). Previous experience in population genetics and/or quantitative genetics.
Project Area: Evolution and ecology, population genetics, conservation biology
Supervisor(s): Dr David Field (contact A/Prof Ute Mueller)
Project level: Masters, PhD
Funding: Applicant should apply for ECUHDR or RTP Scholarship
Start date: Semester 2, 2019