Let me present you with “Invasion Window” idea (applied ecology field). This research idea brought me pretty high in the rankings while applying for Forrest Fellowship but not high enough to get funded as per this email below that I woke-up to few days ago:
Dear Dr Waryszak
Thank you for your application for a Forrest Research Foundation post-doctoral fellowship. The Foundation received 146 applications from highly-qualified candidates, and has decided to shortlist six of them for interview. I am sorry to have to tell you that you are not one of the shortlisted candidates.
The Selection Committee recognised the potential significance of your work on native and alien plants in the context of environmental disturbance. However, in this intensely competitive field of applicants, the Committee decided to give preference to candidates whom it believes have an even stronger research profile.
Thank you again for sharing your enthusiasm for research with the Forrest Research Foundation; we wish you well in your future endeavours.
Warden Forrest Research Foundation
The University of Western Australia | M441 |
Perth WA 6009 |Australia
Research proposal (Intro)
(600 words, this proposal should summarise the issue or problem you are trying to solve, the way you are planning to solve it, and why you believe this work will help to change the world).
Conceptual visualization of the “Invasion Window” idea.
Increasing stochasticity of environmental factors (e.g., extreme climatic events) coupled with extensive urbanization (e.g., road network) have profound effects on the stability of plant communities worldwide and challenge our ability to restore them. For example, accelerating aridity in savanna ecosystems is likely to increase frequencies of fire events and open an invasion window for alien plant species such as Andropogon gayanus. Additionally, extensive distribution of non-native propagules can be considerably increased via anthropogenic processes like vehicle traffic and urbanization. Hence, complex network of interconnected environmental factors and their increasing stochasticity with climate change will destabilize future native plant communities and challenge our capacity to conserve and restore them.
In restoration projects worldwide, invasion of plants considered native to a region is encouraged and supported while invasion of plants considered alien to the region is undesired as alien species often have detrimental effects on ecosystem functions. Hence, one of the most significant tasks facing land managers is to allocate limited resources to eradicate alien plants and to make room for native species re-establishment. However, focusing resources on clearing of invasive plants carries high risk of failure. Restoration sites that have been cleared are very likely to be rapidly re-invaded by the same plant species as alien plants are often characterized by superior traits. For instance, alien plants are capable of re-engineering the habitat conditions (e.g., altering fire frequency, soil nutrient levels) and once established, may further hinder restoration efforts. Yet, there are no studies that have investigated the role of environmental invasion window that could assist in minimizing the risk of restoration failure. Invasion window (or niche overlap) is defined as a set of essential environmental factors under which two plant species (native and invasive) present equal chances to win in an arms race for resources and establishment. The set of environmental factors may exist at multiple scales, such as:
– Edaphic-scale (soil nutrient level)
– Microbial-scale (presence of beneficial microbes)
– Ecosystem-scale (rainfall, temperature, fire events)
– Landscape-scale (topography, road network)
My proposed research aims to identify environmental invasion window characteristics under which native plants (Eucalyptus miniata, Banksia menziesii) increase their chance to establish following significant disturbance (e.g., fire, land clearing). In so doing, an innovative multi-level framework explaining mechanism behind native and alien plant assembly processes will be developed and tested? To address this goal, proposed research project will comprise four components:
Contact me if you got interested and you want to learn more details/further develop the idea.