In collaboration with Biosecurity South Australia, the Global Ecology Lab at Flinders University is happy to announce a wonderful new PhD opportunity in feral deer control strategies for South Australia.
The project is tentatively entitled: Refining models of feral deer abundance and distribution to inform culling programs in South Australia
The project brief follows:
South Australian legislation requires that all landholders cull feral deer on their properties. Despite this, feral deer abundance and distribution are increasing across South Australia. This arises because culling by land managers and government organisations is not keeping pace with rates of population growth, and some landholders are harbouring deer for hunting, whereas some deer escape from deer farms.
There are an estimated 40,000 feral deer in South Australia, and state government agencies are working to ramp up programs to cull feral deer before their numbers reach a point where control is no longer feasible.
Planning such large-scale and costly programs requires that government agencies engage economists to measure the economic impacts of feral deer, and to predict the value of these impacts in the future. That modelling is done regularly by governments, and in the case of pest-control programs, the modelling draws on models of feral deer population growth, farmer surveys about the economic, social, and environmental impacts of feral deer, and analyses of culling programs and trials of new culling techniques.
The economic models predict and compare both the current and future costs of:
- deer impacts on pastures, crops, native plants, and social values (including illegal hunting)
- culling programs that achieve different objectives (e.g., contain vs. reduce vs. eradicate)
The outputs of the models also inform whether there are sufficient public benefits from the investment of public funds into the culling of feral deer.
This PhD project will collate published and unpublished data to refine models of feral deer distribution and abundance under various culling scenarios. This project will drive both high-impact publications and, because this project builds extensive collaborations with government agencies, the results will inform the management of feral deer in South Australia.
This PhD project is a great opportunity to be part of a program that will improve native habitats and enhance the well-being of primary producers to help them meet the growing demands for crops, meat, and wool in domestic and international markets.
If you think you are the person for this project, you will of course have to satisfy the normal PhD admissions requirements at Flinders University. In addition, the following skills and experience are desirable:
- no fear of learning population modelling and coding in R
- a flexible disposition capable of liaising with people working in primary production, government, and academia
- good writing and other communication skills
At this stage we are limited to the normal scholarship opportunities available for prospective PhD students. With the pandemic still limiting overseas (and even inter-state) travel, we will also preference South Australian-based candidates.
A final note, although far from certain at this stage, there could be the possibility of additional financial incentives for the prospective candidate via a substantial top-up to the normal scholarship amount. This top-up amount would negociable based on relevant experience.
Please contact me if you’re interested and/or know someone else who would be ideal for this opportunity.