PhD project – Snowshoe hare winter movement ecology and responses to predation risk in the Yukon

The Integrative Wildlife Conservation lab at Trent University is initiating a PhD project on the winter movement and predator-prey dynamics of snowshoe hares at Kluane Lake, Yukon. Snowshoe hares have been studied for >30 years on-site, and we are launching an assessment of the role of winter food and cover on hare movements and population dynamics. Using GPS telemetry and accelerometry, combined with detailed assessment of structural cover and food patches on the landscape, we will evaluate hare movements, habitat selection, and behaviour in relation to environmental risks (predation) and rewards (nutrition). Our recent work (Boudreau et al. 2019 doi: 10.1007/s00442-019-04500-2; Peers et al. 2020. doi.org/10.1038/s41558-020-00908-4; Shiratsuru et al. 2021 doi.org/10.1002/ecy.3456) suggests that hares live on the fine edge of high risk from predation, and the new work may also involve assessing hare movement ecology in the context of energy landscapes that vary dynamically with accumulation/melt of snow in winter, and the implications of climate change on these dynamics. Because we also instrument Canada lynx with GPS collars at Kluane, there are excellent opportunities to evaluate complex predator-prey spatial interactions. An evolving interest is assessing how individual hares vary their risk-reward tradeoff through phases of the 10-year hare population cycle. The PhD student will have the opportunity to develop specific research questions within the scope of the larger project and collaborate with other students and researchers working on related questions in the Kluane system.

Successful candidates MUST have an MSc in Ecology, Conservation Biology, or related field, demonstrated evidence of peer-reviewed publications, strong field and quantitative skills, and an interest in working collaboratively within a large and diverse research group. Additional desirable skills include animal handling, GPS telemetry, application of animal movement models, and working in remote field conditions, including during winter.  For additional details, see www.dennismurray.ca. Start date: ASAP.

To apply, send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, unofficial academic transcript, and contact information for 3 references to: Dennis Murray (dennismurray@trentu.ca).

The position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found.

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