PhD project opportunity: Population connectivity, adaptation and dispersal in rock lobsters

PhD project opportunity: Population connectivity, adaptation and
dispersal in rock lobsters (PhD top up scholarship available) (James
Cook University, Queensland, Australia)

Spiny rock lobsters are commercially important species with extremely
long larval dispersal phases (up to 24 months). Because there are
no obvious barriers to dispersal within the world’s oceans, species
with extremely long larval durations would be expected to have single,
large ‘open’ (or panmictic) populations. Surprisingly, recent studies
have detected significant population structure in this species however
the processes underpinning this unexpected population genetic structure
and allopatric species distributions are unknown. Local adaptation and
self-recruitment are likely to play an important role in shaping the
demography of marine lobsters because they can counteract the impact of
an extremely long larval duration.

This PhD project will employ population genomic sequencing technologies
with unparalleled spatial and temporal sampling to identify the factors
shaping genetic structure in the commercially important spiny rock
lobsters. This project will seek to:

– discover the factors causing fine-scale population differentiation
within these species by examining the contribution of a)
sweepstake reproduction, b) larval cohesiveness, c) self-
recruitment and d) selection

– detect local adaptation by identifying signatures of adaptive genetic
diversity a) within disjunct populations and b) at range margins,
comparing these to central parts of the distribution

The PhD project will be co-supervised by Assoc. Prof. Jan Strugnell
(James Cook University) and Dr Nick Murphy (La Trobe University).

Requirements: The successful applicant will have a First Class Honours
(or equivalent) in biological science or a related field and will pick
up extra points in the scoring system if they have a first authored
paper. Applicants must be eligible for an Australian Postgraduate
Award (APA). Preference will be given to those applicants with previous
experience in genetics and/or evidence of strong technical and laboratory
skills. Journal publications in these fields are desirable but not
essential. A top-up ($5,190) per year for three years are available
for this project.

Enquiries are welcome. Please submit a CV with contact details for two
referees by email to:

Assoc Prof Jan Strugnell and Dr Nick Murphy