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PhD position: Movement ecology of Roosevelt Elk in Coastal BC, UBC-Okanagan

Location: UBC-Okanagan

Closing Date: 30-Jan-2021
Date Posted: 06-Jan-21

Dr. Adam Ford is looking for a PhD student to conduct dissertation research on the impact of landscape change (i.e., forestry, roads) and weather on the movement ecology, group dynamics, and restoration of Roosevelt elk on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Roosevelt elk are a blue-listed species and a top management priority in British Columbia. Ongoing demands on habitat protection processes, including winter range designations, and restoration efforts require further evidence to support effective decision making.  
Working closely with partners from the BC Government and First Nations, the PhD student will help coordinate the deployment, monitoring, and analysis of 90 GPS collared adult female elk over the coming years. There are 22 GPS collars active in the field, another 25 are scheduled to be deployed this winter, with goal to track ~40-60 collared elk/year towards 2024.

Expectations: There is widespread community support to better understand elk restoration ecology and conservation in British Columbia. As one of the largest terrestrial herbivores on the coast, elk are a key driver of food web dynamics, are an important traditional resource for coastal First Nations, and are a high-value game species for resident and non-resident hunters alike. The PhD student is expected to work collaboratively with First Nations, government, citizen scientists, fish and game clubs, and industry. Outreach and science communication will be an important component of the student’s efforts.

Required qualifications: a MSc in ecology or related discipline with demonstrated evidence of spatial analyses in ecology (GIS) and habitat modelling (Resource Selection Functions or related analyses). Evidence of completing a cycle of the scientific method – i.e., dissemination of results – is critical and may take the form of a thesis, paper, community presentation, or report. Proficiency in English, a valid driver’s licence, and eligibility to be a student in Canada (physically) are also required. Preference will be given to students eligible for NSERC CGS scholarship funding: http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Students-Etudiants/PG-CS/BellandPostgrad-BelletSuperieures_eng.asp. Desired qualifications include proficiency in animal movement analyses, experience working with diverse partnerships and across cultures, field work with large mammals, work in remote areas, and science communication. Capacity for comfort under physically demanding, steep, cold, and wet conditions will be of great benefit.

Compensation: Minimum stipend is set by NSERC PGS-D rate of $21,500 per year plus benefits. Entrance awards and performance funding is additive and available for highly-competitive applicants.

Setting: Located at the Okanagan Campus of the University of British Columbia (Kelowna, BC), the PhD student will be housed at the Wildlife Restoration Ecology (WiRE) Lab – a vibrant, highly-supportive research environment where everyone knows your name, the sun always shines, and the hens lay soft-boiled egg (w: http://atford.weebly.com/; t: @adamTford). For information about the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Biology Graduate Program, see here: http://biol.ok.ubc.ca/graduate/biology.html

Application instructions: Please email me [adam.ford@ubc.ca] a single PDF [file named: LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME.pdf] that includes: 1) 1 page cover letter indicating (a) evidence of meeting the required qualifications (b) career goals (c) your anticipated fit with the WiRE Lab and our collaborators; (2) a recent CV; (3) copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts; (4) contact information for 3 references. Please use the email subject header “Coastal Elk PhD application”. I expect the student will commence graduate studies in September 2021, but this is negotiable if needed.

Review of applications will begin January 7th and qualified candidates will be expected to apply to the UBC Okanagan Biology Graduate Program by January 31st, 2021.