Graduate Research School Available Projects Ecology and evolution of tropical invasive plants

Ecology and evolution of tropical invasive plants

Title of Project

Ecology and evolution of tropical invasive plants


Dr Daniel Montesinos (James Cook University)

College or Research Centre

College of Science & Engineering; Australian Tropical Herbarium

Summary of Project

Invasive plants are optimal model systems to study key ecological concepts, providing with unique insights into the evolutionary processes unfolding during colonization and adaptation to newly colonised areas. This includes rapid divergent adaptation between native and non-native ranges of the same species, which can result in rapid shifts in size, reproduction, phenology, physiology, mutualistic and antagonistic interactions, and can even lead to incipient reproductive isolation among genotypes.

The Australian Tropical Herbarium (ATH) is located at James Cook University’s Cairns campus. Its location in the Wet Tropics, proximity to the Great Barrier Reef, and a variety of diverse habitats, species, and communities, locates it ideally for the development of research on invasive plant biogeography, reproductive ecology, seed biology, plant physiology and chemistry, and plant-animal interactions. The ATH has a dedicated biosecurity group with funding to support several PhD projects to selected candidates. Informal inquiries are welcome, and personal areas of interest will be considered for the planning of PhD projects that fit within the group’s expertise.

Key Words

Biogeography; ecology; evolution; biosecurity; invasive plants; tropical; environmental cline

Would suit an applicant who

Has a background on ecology, botany, biology, or similar, and a motivated, curious mind, willing to study plant evolutionary ecology in the context of biogeography and invasions. JCU offers HDR Scholarships of $33,500 pa, and applications are currently accepted at any time of the year. If successful, other research expenses will be supported by ATH biosecurity funds.

As per JCU requirements, to be eligible to apply for entry to a Doctoral program, an applicant must demonstrate the capacity to undertake research at the Doctoral level by attaining at least one of the following:

  • a Bachelor’s degree with at least Second Class, Division A (Honours) in a degree program that included a total of at least a semester of supervised project work, the results of which contributed to the Honours grade;
  • a postgraduate qualification which included: (a) supervised research component(s) of at least one semester or equivalent and resulted in the production of output(s) graded at the equivalent of Distinction or better, and (b) at least one research methods subject;
  • a Research Master’s degree, where at least two thirds of the degree consisted of a supervised research component and resulted in the production of a thesis or equivalent;
  • a combination of qualifications, research training and experience, considered equivalent to the above by the Dean of the College to which the Candidate is applying, e.g., senior authorship of at least one peer-reviewed publication plus completion of an appropriate research methods subject.

All applicants must meet the IELTS Band 2 English Language Requirements or equivalent as defined by the University.

Updated: 20 Jul 2023