Ph.D. position: University of Saskatchewan – Ascribing the importance of Atlantic brant staging areas for annual cycle conservation planning

Description: A Ph.D. studentship is available with Dr. Mitch Weegman in the Department of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. This position is part of the launch of the Ducks Unlimited Canada Endowed Chair in Wetland and Waterfowl Conservation (https://www.ducks.ca/our-work/science/saskatchewan-endowed-chair/). The student will use state-of-the-art tracking devices deployed on Atlantic brant to conduct research in movement ecology and conservation planning.

This project is an international partnership among the Canadian Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited Canada, Niskamoon Corporation, Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board, New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Université du Québec à Rimouski, University of Delaware, and University of Saskatchewan. Our project goals are to (1) produce maps of locations and migratory routes of tagged Atlantic brant in James Bay and throughout the annual cycle, (2) work with local Cree community members along James Bay to visit tagged Atlantic brant locations and collect eelgrass to quantify eelgrass health, (3) use locational and behavioral data to describe the behavior of brant in specific habitats in James Bay (e.g., the proportion of time feeding versus resting) and link with variation in eelgrass health, and (4) assess the relationship between migration attributes (e.g., eelgrass health and distribution on staging areas, movements and behavior on staging versus wintering areas) and productivity for a full annual cycle perspective.

Based on >150 tracking devices already deployed on individuals (with ~100 more planned), we anticipate collation of millions of data points providing examples of individual decision-making. Using these data, the student will develop full annual cycle models of Atlantic brant movements and behavior for the first time, yielding novel opportunities for conservation planning. The student will spend substantial time working along eastern James Bay (Eeyou Istchee), in close collaboration with Cree community members.

Prerequisites: Ideal candidates will have an undergraduate and master’s degree in statistics, wildlife ecology or a closely related field, and interpersonal skills to lead discussions among collaborators. Preference will be given to those with a strong quantitative background (e.g., experience with Program R, Bayesian methods), knowledge of migratory bird ecology and management, field skills (e.g., handling birds, sampling aquatic vegetation), and experience working with First Nations communities. Students must have a valid driver’s license. The successful applicant will be expected to publish manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and present papers at scientific meetings.

Salary and benefits:  Approximately $25,000 Canadian per year plus tuition.

Start date: September 2021

Last date to apply: 16 April 2021 or until a suitable candidate is selected

To be considered for this position, please send the following (preferably as a single PDF) to Dr. Mitch Weegman (weegmanm@missouri.edu):

(1) Letter of interest summarizing your experience, (2) Curriculum vitae or resume, (3) University transcripts (unofficial are fine), (4) Contact information for three references.

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