Ph.D. positions (2): University of Saskatchewan – Movement ecology of American black ducks and eastern mallards

Description: Two Ph.D. studentships are available with Dr. Mitch Weegman in the Department of Biology at the University of Saskatchewan. The positions are 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/). These projects comprise independent and integrated objectives because black ducks and mallards co-exist in the northern and mid-Atlantic Flyway. The students will use state-of-the-art tracking devices deployed on both species to conduct research in movement ecology and conservation planning.

These projects are international partnerships among the Black Duck Joint Venture, Canadian Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, US Fish and Wildlife Service, The State University of New York-Brockport, University of Saskatchewan, Ripley Waterfowl Conservancy, and member states of the Atlantic Flyway (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia). Our primary project goals are to (1) quantify movements and wetland use during the breeding season, (2) quantify reproductive attempts, full-term incubation and brood-rearing, (3) assess the extent to which migration characteristics, proportion of time feeding, energy expenditure and habitat used during wintering, staging and the reproductive period explain variation in reproductive attempts, full-term incubation and brood-rearing, and (4) use the relationships identified in objectives 1-3 to link the annual cycle for holistic conservation planning. We anticipate deploying 500 units on black ducks and 600-800 units on mallards over a 4-year period. These units will generate millions of data points providing examples of individual decision-making.

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, spatial analysis), knowledge of migratory bird ecology and management, and field experience (e.g., handling birds, sampling aquatic vegetation). Students must have a valid driver’s license. The successful applicants will be expected to publish manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and present papers at scientific meetings.

Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (with field work in eastern Canada and US)

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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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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M.Sc. student position – Metabarcoding soil and litter invertebrates

The Schwarzfeld (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada) and Kerr (uOttawa) labs invite applications for a motivated M.Sc. graduate student to contribute to a larger multidisciplinary research project investigating the role of natural capital in agricultural landscapes (e.g. riparian areas, hedgerows, forest stands) in supporting and maintaining ecosystem goods and services (e.g. biodiversity, soil health, pest control, etc.). The specific component of the M.Sc. project will involve investigating the soil and litter arthropod communities under different ecological conditions. Soil and litter-dwelling arthropods are incredibly diverse and play an important role in maintaining healthy and functioning soil ecosystems, and this work will provide key data in how best to manage agricultural landscapes while prioritizing soil health. 

The graduate student will be responsible for field sampling, lab-work and ecological analyses. We are envisioning a strong metabarcoding component to the study (sequencing Berlese extracts for mites and bulk samples or preservative ethanol from pitfall samples) and the student could also pick a taxonomic group according to their interests to include morphological and abundance data, and to validate the molecular data. There will also be opportunities to layer the data collected for this specific project onto data collected from the wider project, such as the above-ground vegetation, microclimates, and the microbiome and physico-chemical properties of the soil.  The student will be stationed at the Ottawa Research and Development Centre, with access to molecular labs, microscopes, and the millions of reference specimens housed at the Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids, and Nematodes. The research sites are all within a 40 minute drive of Ottawa.

  • Candidates must meet the admission criteria of the Department of Biological Sciences M.Sc. graduate program at the University of Ottawa
  • Candidates must have a valid driver’s licence
  • Preference will be given to applicants experienced with ecological theory, entomology, molecular techniques (e.g. DNA extractions, PCR), and/or bioinformatics and scripting.

Applicants should send a letter of motivation, CV, copy of academic transcripts and the names of three references to Marla Schwarzfeld (marla.schwarzfeld@canada.ca) with cc to Jeremy Kerr (jkerr@uottawa.ca).

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MSc Position Available: Environmental Contamination from the Use of Lead Ammunition

An MSc student opportunity is available to join a collaborative research project involving researchers at the National Wildlife Research Centre (a government facility of Environment and Climate Change Canada) and the Department of Biology at Carleton University.

The MSc student position is available starting in September 2021 to investigate contamination of harvested wildlife from the use of lead ammunition. While it is well-known lead shot contaminates harvested waterfowl, more recent studies indicate lead rifle bullets can also contaminate the meat of large game. Lead ammunition is a potential source of lead that contaminates country food because it breaks into small pieces on impact in harvested animals. This interdisciplinary MSc project will encompass both environmental and social science components and will be co-supervised by Dr. Vivian Nguyen (Social-Ecological Research and Applications Lab, Carleton University) and Dr. John Chételat (Environment and Climate Change Canada). Using an existing dataset, the student will characterize levels and sources of lead in tissues of monitored wildlife species that are important country foods. The student will also collect social science data on the use of lead ammunition to inform science to policy initiatives.

To apply, please email Dr. John Chételat (john.chetelat@canada.ca) with the following: 1) a cover letter briefly describing your career goals and how they align with the MSc opportunity, 2) a CV, 3) unofficial transcripts, and 4) names and contact information for two references. Review of applications will begin on April 1, 2021 and will continue until the position is filled.

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MSc or PhD position in subarctic terrestrial ecology

Subarctic regions are experiencing some of the greatest rates of climate change on the planet.  Some subarctic regions are experiencing a change in plant communities while other are not, suggesting that communities are not in equilibrium with the climate. The woodlands and tundra habitats of the subarctic are characterized slow growing plants and nutrient poor soils that have large pools of organic matter. We are interested in the how the feedback between plants and soil uncouples communities and ecosystem processes from the regional climate. We are also examining how the consumer food chain alter nutrient availability and creates feedbacks in ecosystem productivity and community composition. We conduct manipulative experiments using fertilizer additions and plant exclusion, and observational studies, on animal redistribution of nutrients in woodland and tundra habitats. Our field sites are in Wapusk National Park and near the Churchill Northern Studies Center.

At present there are positions for MSc. and PhD students.  A BSc in the biological sciences with an emphasis in ecological or environmental studies is a must. Students should have an interest in ecophysiology, community ecology and ecosystem processes. Experience working in the field in remote settings is an asset. Contact John Markham (john.markham@umanitoba.ca) for more information.

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GRADUATE RESEARCH OPPORTUNITIES IN AQUATIC BIODIVERSITY

Aquatic ecosystems of the Boreal Shield Ecozone (BSE) include a diversity of lakes, ponds, wetlands, streams and rivers linked across the landscape in a network of nested catchments (drainage basins). Fish biodiversity over this landscape is often interpreted from conditions in larger lakes (> 100 ha) which are the primary survey targets. Much less is known about how smaller lakes and streams contribute to the overall biodiversity and productivity of the catchment through provision of unique habitats, refuges and migration corridors. Our objective is to advance our current understanding of fish biodiversity at the catchment scale in the BSE through a research program that examines all aquatic habitats.

Research will begin in the recovering landscape of the historical acid deposition zone in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Acid and metals damaged aquatic ecosystems over a vast area, and biological recovery appears to be lagging chemical recovery. Our initial working hypotheses are: i) catchment-scale fish biodiversity will be lower in recovering catchments than reference catchments, and ii) local biodiversity will depend on landscape position as well as habitat type within all catchments, but landscape position will be more important in recovering catchments because of its influence on both the severity of initial impact and the re-colonization process during recovery. From this starting point, we will model and test predictions about species distribution patterns within both reference and recovering catchments in the context of both legacy and current environmental stressors.

I am seeking motivated students to conduct graduate research at the MSc or PhD levels. Applicants should have strong quantitative, organizational, and writing skills, and be willing to develop and undertake a field-intensive program in a challenging environment. Knowledge in limnology, fish biology, and restoration ecology, and experience with fish sampling, database management and statistical analyses are all definite assets.

Students will be based at the Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit (CFEU), housed in the Vale Living with Lakes Centre (http://www.livingwithlakes.ca) at Laurentian University. Students will work with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from academia, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) and the Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), and will have access to extensive, long-term databases for fish communities and water quality.

Salary will be at current NSERC rates and starting dates are negotiable from May 2021 onwards.

Please forward a CV, a statement of research interests and qualifications, copies of transcripts, and names of three references to:  Tom Johnston, Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, Canada.   tjohnston@laurentian.ca

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PHD PROJECT IN FOREST ECOPHYSIOLOGY – Ecosystem fluxes and growth scenarios for boreal tree species

We are looking for a student for a PhD project on the boreal forest. The boreal ecosystems have a central place in Canada’s natural environment, history, culture and economy, but today they face rapid climate and environmental changes that can modify their structure and functioning and that can open up new perspectives for the forest industry. To better predict the responses of northern forest ecosystems to these changes, we must obtain a detailed knowledge of the ecophysiological functioning of emblematic tree species. Our research project exploits a unique dataset on intra-annual forest growth, combined with mechanistic modeling, to study key forest processes in a context of climate change. The results will help characterizing and anticipating the effects of climate change on boreal forest ecosystems.

Click here for more information.

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MASTER’S PROJECT IN FOREST ECOPHYSIOLOGY – The dynamics of carbon sequestration in jack pine wood

We are looking for a student for a master’s project on the boreal forest. Climate and environmental changes in the boreal forest are already having significant repercussions on carbon sequestration at the regional level, on the distribution of plant and animal species, and on the economy of the timber industry. However, recent research shows the existence of strong contradictions in our knowledge of the functioning of boreal trees and of their possible responses to environmental changes, particularly with respect to their vulnerability to drought. To better understand the resource use of boreal trees, we propose a research project that will use isotopic tracers as a means of understanding ecophysiological processes. We want to define the intra-annual dynamics and potential limitations of carbon sequestration along the leaf to wood uptake pathway of a species characterizing the boreal landscape. Objectives and methodology: The main objective of the project will be to better define the temporal successions and the integration processes in the carbon assimilation pathway of jack pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb.). This will help to refine the understanding of processes such as carbon dynamics and water use during the growing season. Intra-annual monitoring of cellulose carbon and oxygen isotopes will be carried out over two summers for six trees on a humidity gradient (three trees on clay soil and three trees on sandy soil). The plant tissues analyzed will include leaves, cambium and xylem from the current year. We want to determine how soil and weather conditions interact to influence the dynamics of carbon sequestration in jack pine wood.

Click here for more information.

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MASTER’S PROJECT IN FOREST ECOPHYSIOLOGY – Discovering secrets of the oldest trees in Quebec: the white cedars at Duparquet Lake

We are looking for a student to conduct an exciting master’s project on the ecophysiology of the oldest trees in Quebec. Located in the Abitibi region of Quebec, Duparquet Lake offers a unique natural environment with over 100 islands housing a variety of remarkable ecosystems. On some of these islands, we can find xeric sites colonized by the oldest white cedars in North America. Several of these trees are almost 1000 years old and represent the oldest living trees in Quebec. The mechanisms involved in tree longevity remain imperfectly understood. Long-lived trees have developed resistance traits linked to their genetics and environment, which reduce the susceptibility to mortality. For example, increased resistance to cavitation, greater concentration of lignin and phenolic compounds, and particular carbon allocation strategies such as unilateral trunk growth allowing the concentration of available resources on a smaller surface. Our project’s goal is to reveal the reasons for the exceptional longevity of these cedars via ecophysiology and state-of-the-art equipment recently acquired by UQAT. We also want to develop a management strategy to contribute to ecotourism in the study region. In addition, the cedar forests around the lake are forests with high conservation value and their management is also important for the FSC® certifications of our partners.

Click here for more information.

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PhD position in terrestrial toxicology

But first, you must love mites.  We are looking for a student with an MSc, who has published a paper and is interested in pursuing their Ph.D studying terrestrial ecotoxicology. We study Oppia nitens, an oribatid mite, and now a standard toxicity test species.  Oppia as we fondly call it, is found around the world and is one of the soils most abundant invertebrates. It’s critical to numerous ecological services, its adult can live up to 15 years, but little is known about Oppia nitens. Our lab was the first one to develop the initial reference toxicity test, develop the rapid avoidance test, and now we are just finishing sequencing the genome of Oppia.

We’ve developed a new toxicity test that tracks the colour change of their cuticle as a proxy for growth from young to mature adults. We hope to use this new endpoint to assess how Oppia nitens interact with singles and mixtures of toxicants in the soil and also link their biological performance to important ecological processes in the real world.
Our lab works closely with Dr. Juliska Princz at Environment Canada and has research links throughout Europe. This opportunity will allow you to network with government and industrial agencies, as well as open the door to international collaborations as well. If you are interested in terrestrial toxicology and want to do your Ph.D in Toxicology, at one of the top environmental toxicology departments in the world, please contact Dr. Alix Conway at alix.conway@usask.ca to submit your application. In your application, please let us know what your MSc was about, provide a copy of your published paper you are most proud of, describe your experience in R/python, as well as why you are interested in soil terrestrial toxicology. 
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