Postdoctoral Fellow - Conservation Genomics

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: Permanent

Postdoctoral Fellow - Conservation Genomics-1900793





Divisional Structure


The Division of Sciences is one of the four teaching divisions in the University, the others being Health Sciences, Commerce, and Humanities. The Division of Sciences represents a broad range of disciplines in 15 Departments and a number of inter-disciplinary programmes.


Our Department


The Department of Zoology is distinctive internationally for its focus on whole organism biology. We are one of the few departments of Zoology in the world.


Our staff have international reputations in their areas of expertise and make major contributions to answering fundamental questions in basic and applied research.


The Role


We are seeking a Postdoctoral Fellow to work on a Marsden-funded research project titled ‘Resolving the genomic architecture of hatching failure to improve conservation of endangered birds' and will involve conducting genomic research on two critically endangered birds, the ‘Alalā (Hawai‘i) and Kākāpō (New Zealand). The project will combine genomic and bioinformatic analyses with the conservation management of these threatened species, with the successful applicant spending time in both New Zealand (University of Otago) and Hawai’i (University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, and Keauhou Bird Conservation Center, both of which are on the Island of Hawai‘i).


Egg-hatching failure is a frustrating reality in endangered bird conservation. Many eggs fail to hatch due to reduced fitness of individuals with related parents (inbreeding depression). Despite decades of research on the topic, management guidelines often simply state “avoid inbreeding”. We need to do better. We take advantage of recent advances in molecular genetics and bioinformatics to discover the genomic architecture of hatching failure in two iconic endangered birds: ‘Alalā (Hawai‘i) and Kākāpō (New Zealand). These two species are powerful model systems for uncovering the cause of hatching problems that plague many species: both species have long-term pedigree data, detailed fitness records, extensive high quality genomic resources, and large numbers of samples (including embryos that died in the egg) for analysis. The research will also capitalise on a growing number of published avian reference genomes to undertake comparative analysis and enable our results to be applied more broadly. By combining massive datasets in this way, the project is uniquely placed to make the most of recent molecular and analytical advances and uncover why inbreeding leads to hatching failure. The study will make a fundamental contribution to the understanding of hatching success in birds, and offer much-needed management options for endangered species conservation.


Your Skills and Experience


• A PhD and research experience in conservation genetics, evolutionary genetics or genomics of diploid organisms is essential.

• Experience in population genomic and bioinformatic analyses is essential.

• Experience with whole genome analyses is desirable.

• Experience with different types of phenotype-genotype analyses is an advantage (e.g. genome-wide association studies (GWAS), analysis of runs of homozygosity (ROH)).

• Experience with analysis of pedigrees is an advantage.

• Good knowledge of conservation biology and conservation genetics, including inbreeding and inbreeding depression, is an advantage.

• Knowledge of avian biology, ecology, and animal behaviour is an advantage.


Further Details


This role is a full-time, fixed term position for three years and is available from 1 July 2019.


Specific enquiries may be directed to the Principal Investigators of the Marsden funded project (contact details below).


Associate Professor Bruce Robertson, Department of Zoology, University of Otago.


Dr Jolene Sutton, University of Hawai’i at Hilo.




To submit your application (including CV and cover letter) please click the apply button below. Applications quoting reference number 1900793 will close on Friday, 19 April 2019.


Additional Information

Contact: Associate Professor Bruce Robertson     Tel: +64 21 279 4110


Contact: Dr Jolene Sutton     Tel: +1 808 932 7183

Position details: Information Statement

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Further Information: Department Website

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Location: About Dunedin

Primary Location
Employment Status
 Fixed Term Full-time
Salary Level and Range
 Postdoctoral Fellow ($75,896)
Job Function

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