Expressions of interest are invited for a PhD in Insect Behaviour and Ecology at Macquarie University’s Centre for the Integrative Study of Animal Behaviour (CISAB, http://galliform.bhs.mq.edu.au/~cisab/). The project would be jointly supervised by Dr Phil Taylor and Dr Chris Weldon and is open to Australian and overseas students.
The overall theme of the project is to explore aspects of field competence of sterile Queensland fruit flies (Bactrocera tryoni; Tephritidae) (Q-flies) released to manage pest populations through the sterile insect technique (SIT). There is ample scope to tailor this project to accommodate specific research interests of the student, although it is preferred that some of the following be included. Suggested directions include laboratory studies, and small and large field cage studies, to compare behaviour of wild, mass-reared and sterile Q-flies relevant to survival and mating activity in the field. There is an opportunity in this project to probe existing wild and sterile fly trapping data from quarantine zones throughout Australia to assess whether the local distribution of sterile flies matches that of wild flies in the field, and to evaluate the relation between standard quality control measures with estimates of field quality (indicated by field recaptures). Additionally, it would be possible to carry out trial releases targeting sites favoured for mating by Q-flies to determine whether such an approach has potential to improve efficiency and effectiveness of SIT programs.
This project provides opportunities to challenge prevailing assumptions about Q-fly biology, liaise with relevant government agencies, and contribute to an important environmentally benign insect pest management goal by optimising sterile insect releases. Experience in some of the following areas would be valuable: Entomology, Ecology, Animal Behaviour, Behavioural Ecology, or Integrated Pest Management.
Several scholarship options are available for PhD research at Macquarie University, including the Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) for students from Australia or New Zealand, and Macquarie University’s MQRES scholarship for students of any nationality with a record of high academic / research performance. These scholarships include a stipend (currently AU$19,616 p.a. tax exempt) for a maximum of 3.5 years tenure, as well as allowances for relocation and thesis costs, and for international students would also cover international tuition fees and overseas health cover. Students on these scholarships are not obliged to contribute to teaching, but may do so to supplement their income if desired. An additional AU$6,000 p.a. is provided by CISAB toward direct research expenses, and several generous internal schemes are available to fund travel to visit overseas laboratories, for field work, and to attend conferences.
For further information about this project and scholarships, and as an expression of interest, please contact either Dr Phil Taylor ([email protected]) or Dr Chris Weldon ([email protected]), including a copy of your CV and academic transcripts, before 12 October 2007.

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