Jim Willis Studentships
The National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG) Melbourne, invites applications for vacation studentships honouring the late Dr James Hamlyn Willis, distinguished former senior member of staff at the National Herbarium of Victoria. The studentships allow students in the third or fourth year of a Science degree to participate, under supervision, in one of the research programs at RBG Melbourne.
There are two studentships available and each is awarded for an eight-week period during December to February. Remuneration is $1,673.63 gross per fortnight.
The following projects are offered for 2013–2014:
Optimising the output: a comparative seed germination experiment in rare/endemic Victorian Brassicaceae under differing temperature regimes
A major goal in conservation seed-banking is to gain a better understanding of the requirements for seed germination of banked species. The ability to germinate seed of rare and/or threatened species is a key requirement for translocation and other strategic revegetation projects.
Using a comparative experimental approach, seed from a range of rare or endemic Victorian Brassicaceae will be assessed for viability, seed coat permeability and dormancy under laboratory conditions in order to optimise germination requirements. The ecology of each species will be assessed to identify possible germination cues such as temperature and precipitation.
Exploring species distributions of macrofungi
The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) provides unprecedented access to distribution records of Australia's biota. There are now more than 300,000 records of fungi in the ALA, including herbarium specimen data as well as observational data from projects such as Fungimap. Some species have more than 1000 records. The ALA includes tools for modelling distribution and for detecting outliers (which may represent erroneous records). These tools will be utilised to explore questions like ‘What are important environmental variables for macrofungal distribution?’ and ‘Are variables the same for different lifeforms (such as puffballs and mushrooms)?’. The distribution of host and fungus in host-specific fungi will also be explored. In addition, modelling will be used to predict areas where particular species are unknown, but likely, to occur.
Supervisors: Dr Tom May (+613 9252 2319, firstname.lastname@example.org) and Alena Moison (+613 9252 2355, email@example.com)
Building and assessing identification tools for macrofungi
Identification keys are important for getting names for specimens or observations, but different methods of key construction are rarely tested. Keys are particularly difficult to construct for fungi, where many morphological characters are less discrete than in plants. Environmental and developmental variation further complicate identification. Cortinarius is one of the most diverse mushroom genera in Australia, with more than 100 species already known, and many species yet to be described. There is no comprehensive key to known species of Cortinarius. This project will construct multiple access and dichotomous keys for Australian Cortinarius using Lucid and DELTA software. Descriptive data will come from published descriptions as well as field notes with the more than 1500 herbarium specimens of this genus in the National Herbarium of Victoria. The efficiency and accuracy of different keys will be tested. Use of multiple-access keys to hold data about newly discovered species will be explored.
Supervisor: Dr Tom May (+613 9252 2319, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Wattle we call it?
A potentially unnamed Acacia related to A. boormanii occurs in two localised areas of north-east Victoria, far removed from the stronghold of A. boormanii in East Gippsland. Close examination and morphological analysis, based on herbarium material and field studies, will endeavour to clarify the status of the north-east populations.
Supervisors: Dr Daniel Murphy (+613 9252 2377, email@example.com) and Neville Walsh (+613 9252 2310, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Coming to grips with Golden Moths: resolving the yellow-flowered Diuris (Orchidaceae) species in Victoria
Yellow-flowered Diuris species (commonly known as Golden Moths) have long perplexed orchid enthusiasts and taxonomists in Victoria. From a single recognised species a few decades ago, Victoria now has seven named species in the D. chryseopsis/D. pedunculata group. Initial morphological and molecular analysis of three species of the basalt plains suggests a possibility of ‘over-splitting’ in the group. By sampling from the other related species in Victoria, a better comparative analysis of the group will be obtained and a more strongly supported taxonomy suggested. The taxonomy of the Diuris group is important because some of the currently recognised species are targets of conservation programs. Thus, a rational taxonomic approach allows for more appropriately focussed allocation of precious conservation resources. The project will employ a combination of morphological and molecular (microsatellite markers) data to analyse current population structure.
Supervisors: Dr Collin Ahrens (+613 9252 2311, email@example.com) and Liz James (+613 9252 2378, firstname.lastname@example.org)
For general enquiries on studentships contact Dr Daniel Murphy (+613 9252 2377, email@example.com).
Applications should include a curriculum vitae (including university transcript), two referees, and a brief cover letter explaining how the applicant would benefit from the Jim Willis Studentship; how they can contribute to research at the Royal Botanic Gardens; and reasons for preferring a particular project(s). Hard copies of applications should be forwarded to Dr Daniel Murphy, Acting Plant Sciences Manager, National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Private Bag 2000 South Yarra, Victoria 3141, by 11 October 2013.