PhD Scholarship: Population ecology and behaviour of yellow-eyed penguins on the NZ subantarctics
New Zealand is a world hotspot for penguin biodiversity. The yellow-eyed penguin (Megadyptes antipodes) is endemic to New Zealand and restricted to the south of the South Island, Stewart Island/Rakiura, the Auckland Islands and Campbell Island/Motu Ihupuku. There are estimated to be < 2000 breeding pairs with ~60% of the entire species breeding on New Zealand’s subantarctic islands. The NZ subantarctic is considered a breeding stronghold, however there are no recent estimates of population size, health or foraging ecology of yellow-eyed penguins at the Auckland Islands.
A PhD scholarship is available to study the abundance, density and distribution of yellow-eyed penguins at Enderby Island and across the Auckland Islands. Population estimates across this range will be analysed taking into account factors such as predation (from pigs and feral cats on the main Auckland Island), foraging behaviour and health (particularly looking at diseases and bacteria transferred between wild populations, such as Toxoplasmosis between cats and wildlife, or Leucocytozoon). This research would be the first population biology work for this species on the NZ subantarctic Auckland Islands and can be compared with a significant research base on their behaviour and biology from the NZ mainland.
Selection criteria: This PhD project will be primarily based at Massey University Palmerston North with annual field work of between 6 weeks to 3 months on the Auckland Islands, NZ subantarctics. We seek an ecologist who is hard-working and enthusiastic. The ideal candidate will have some remote field experience, a demonstrated ability to work independently and well-developed organisational skills. Preference will be given to applicants with at least one first-authored publication.
Scholarship/application details: The successful candidate will be awarded a PhD stipend for three years. Prospective students should have a first class honours or a Masters degree, and will need to meet Massey University entrance requirements. Applicants should send an email to Dr B Louise Chilvers firstname.lastname@example.org and Dr Phil Battley email@example.com including: 1) a CV; 2) academic record (subjects and marks); 3) a one-page summary of your research interests and career goals; and 4) details of 3 referees (including any previous research supervisors). Closing date for applications is 31 July 2015.