Volunteer at HIE

 

The Institute's volunteering program, 'Helping Hands', gives students a way to experience science and gain skills with a flexible approach...

Building a career starts before you graduate. A successful launch into a satisfying career in the environmental sciences needs the right contacts, combined with real, hands-on experience so you can get going straight away.

Consider volunteering while you study - good students and good volunteers are what employers look for.

Current opportunities for which we seek volunteers are:

Dr Paul Rymer: Ecological restoration of the Cumberland Plain Woodland: Is local always best?

Cumberland Plain plant species

The Cumberland Plain Woodland (CPW) is listed as a critically endangered ecological community. It has experienced extensive habitat loss and fragmentation through agricultural and urban development; as such the small remnants are at increased risk of extinction.

Ecological restoration aims to restore degraded sites through removal of weeds and re-establishment of native species. Best practise maintains local provenances to reduce mixing of gene pools that may be locally adapted to different sites.

This, however, imposes a significant constraint on seed collectors which in the context of highly fragmented landscapes limits the amount and genetic diversity of seed for restoration. This project will explore the relative importance of local adaptation and genetic diversity for successful ecological restoration.

  • Volunteers will work with collaboration with Greening Australia and The Australian Botanic Garden to ensure applied outcomes for ecological restoration. The successful volunteers will be provided with training to develop skills in field sampling, processing collections, germination experiments, plant growth and trait assessment.
  • Volunteers should be enthusiastic, and have good attention to detail and organisation skills.
  • 7-21 hours per week required.
  • Please contact Paul Rymer under 0415 963 139 or p.rymer@westernsydney.edu.au.

Dr Paul Rymer: How do plant-insect interactions behave along steep environmental gradients?

Honeyeater on a Grevillea

Many plant-insect associations have evolved over millions of years; however some interactions have emerged more recently with environmental change.

This can break up key mutualistic interactions (such as pollination) and antagonistic interactions (such as seed predation) with the loss and emergence of different species in the landscape. Critically, the disruption of plant-insect associations can threaten the viability of natural populations, alter species distributions, and result in a loss of biodiversity.

This project will explore plant-insect interactions along a steep altitudinal gradient from coastal Sydney to upland Blue Mountains. It will focus on insects associated with legumes (including Acacia, Dillwynia, Pultenaea) within established plots in the Biological Adaptation Transect Sydney (working closely with The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney).

Volunteers will be engaged in fieldwork to sample insects during plant flowering and seed set, insect identification with morphology (and potentially DNA barcoding). Training will be provided in plant and insect identification, along with field sampling and laboratory techniques.

  • Volunteers should be enthusiastic, and have good attention to detail and organisation skills. A driver's licence is desirable.
  • 7-21 hours per week required.
  • Please contact Paul Rymer under 0415 963 139 or p.rymer@westernsydney.edu.au.

Dr Paul Rymer: Adaptive capacity to rapidly changing climate

Cumberland Plain plant species

The impacts of climate change are known to vary both by region and plant type. Despite this little attention has been given to (the often substantial) variation within species in providing adaptive capacity to rapidly changing climate.

This project will test two main hypotheses: (1) plants growing under temperature regimes found in their native source population will outperform plants from different climates, and (2) plants from warm/dry sites have higher resistance and resilience to drought.

Volunteers will work alongside a team of collaborating researchers assisting in plant water manipulations, plant traits sampling, leaf gas exchange / hydraulic measures, recording plant growth and/or final harvest.

The successful volunteers will be able to match their skills and aspirations to the work, and will be provided with expert training in these techniques.

  • 7-35 hours per week required.
  • Please contact Paul Rymer under 0415 963 139 or p.rymer@westernsydney.edu.au.

Eucalyptus Leaf