Matrix population modeling for wildlife workshop: August 25th-26th 2018

Introduction to modeling wildlife population dynamics using matrix models

Instructor: Dr. Sophie Gilbert, Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho

Date: August 25-26, 2018 (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Location: University of Idaho, College of Natural Resources (MCCL 214A)

Registration Details: Cost $300. Registration deadline- July 31st, 2018. Please contact Kim Stout, kstout@uidaho.edu.

Course description

Animal population dynamics are influenced by a wide array of processes, from environmental variability to predation, competition, management changes, and nutritionally-induced density dependence. As a result, researchers and managers are often keenly interested in better understanding and quantifying population dynamics. However, the complex life histories of many species require approaches that can incorporate multiple vital rates and evaluate their relative importance, such as matrix population models.  Matrix-based population models can incorporate a multitude of ecological dynamics and provide a wide array of useful metrics, and are also the basic structure underlying an important new approach, integrated population models (not covered in this course). However, the construction and analysis of matrix models can be a barrier to use for those who have not used them previously.

In this course, participants will learn and practice the skills needed to build and analyze matrix population models, including a wide variety of structures (age-based, stage-based, 2-sex, density-dependent, and stochastic). The course structure will begin with morning lectures interspersed with running brief analyses, which will focus on key concepts and approaches for matrix population models. In the afternoons, the course will consist of interactive, hands-on computer exercises executed in program R. Previous experience with program R is helpful, but not required.

Course outline

Lecture: Introduction to matrix population models

·      Connection between matrix population models and other population models

·      Basic structure and formulation of matrix population models

·      Translation of sampling design to appropriate matrix structure

·      Age vs. stage-structured models (exercise)

·      1 vs. 2 sex models

·      Basic matrix model outputs and interpretation (exercise)

 

Lecture: Adding ecological complexity to matrix population models

·      Density dependence in matrix models

·      Demographic stochasticity and links to PVAs (exercise)

·      Environmental stochasticity (exercise)

·      Transient dynamics (exercise)

Practicum, Afternoon 1: work through matrix modeling exercises, including stage- and size-structured models, and 2-sex models

Practicum, Afternoon 2: work through more complex exercises to model a density-dependent population with environmental stochasticity

Instructor contact information

Sophie Gilbert, Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844

Email: sophiegilbert@uidaho.edu

Position available: PhD student to study fire, predator prey dynamics, and mule deer

PhD Position: Effects of fire and landscape disturbance on mule deer ecology and predator-prey community structure, British Columbia, Canada

We are seeking a PhD student to conduct research focused on how disturbance, especially fire, affects nutrition, predation, and competition for mule deer in southern British Columbia. This region once supported British Columbia’s most productive mule deer population, which has declined since the 1970s in spite of increasingly restrictive hunting regulations. Recent large-scale fires provide the rare opportunity for a landscape-scale experiment on how disturbance affects mule deer demography, resource selection, and community relationships.

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The PhD student will help answer questions related to: 1) how landscape factors including disturbance affect community dynamics among predator and prey species at different temporal and spatial scales, and impacts on mule deer forage and exposure to predation; 2) how nutritional quality of habitat, competition, and predation impacts adult female fitness (body condition, survival, and reproductive performance) and fawn recruitment, and use these individual responses to understand population-level consequences of landscape change; and 3) how deer respond at different temporal and spatial scales to the landscape of nutrition, predation risk, and competition, and what role fire and other disturbance plays in these processes.

The project team: The PhD student will be supervised by Dr. Sophie Gilbert (www.gilbertresearch.org) at the Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences, University of Idaho, located in beautiful Moscow, Idaho. The student will be working within a broader team, including a PhD student based at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus (with Dr. Adam Ford, Department of Biology, www.atford.weebly.com), as well as the BC Wildlife Federation (www.bcwf.net), wildlife managers from the British Columbia government, and the Okanagan Nation Alliance (www.syilx.org). The PhD student is expected to work collaboratively and to engage productively with stakeholders, fish and game clubs, provincial range and wildlife agencies, industry, and First Nations.

Desired qualifications for both candidates include a good theoretical understanding of large mammal ecology coupled with a spirit of curiosity/inquiry, the demonstrated ability to work well as part of a team in a rural environment, experience with or willingness to learn large mammal handling, camera trapping, VHF/GPS telemetry, plant identification, 4x4 vehicle operation, wilderness first aid, coding in program R, GIS analyses, habitat selection, population modeling, and occupancy analysis. Required qualifications include a MSc in ecology or related fields by Fall 2018, proficiency in English, and valid driver’s licence and passport (or willingness to obtain a passport).

To apply for this position, please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname_date.pdf) to sophiegilbert@uidaho.edu containing (1) a cover letter indicating reasons for desiring this position, past experiences in large mammal ecology including relevant field experience, and experience with teams and stakeholders/the public; (2) a recent CV; (3) copies of undergraduate & graduate transcripts; (4) GRE scores for US applicants; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “Mule deer PhD application”. The student will commence graduate studies in September 2018. Review of applications will begin March 12th.

Ph.D. Research Assistantship: Mule deer ecology in the Boundary Region of British Columbia, Canada

Start date: Summer 2017

Closing date: Review of applications begins November 30th, and will continue until 2 suitable candidates are found.

We are seeking two PhD students to conduct dissertation research focused on how changing habitat conditions, predation, and competition affect mule deer demography in the Boundary Region of British Columbia. This region – located along the BC-WA state border – once supported British Columbia’s most productive mule deer population, but this population has not rebounded since declining in the 1970s. A recent, large-scale fire has provided the rare conditions needed to conduct a landscape-scale experiment on how habitat change affects mule deer population dynamics.

Working closely with the BC Wildlife Federation (http://www.bcwf.net/) and the Okanagan Nation Alliance (http://www.syilx.org/), one student will be supervised by Dr. Sophie Gilbert (http://www.gilbertresearch.org/) at the University of Idaho and one student will be supervised by Dr. Adam Ford (http://atford.weebly.com/) at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan Campus. The Idaho-based student will examine how nutritional quality of the landscape impacts fawn and adult female fitness (body condition, survival, and reproductive performance) and use these individual responses to understand population-level consequences of landscape change. Approaches include GPS-collaring of adult females, VHF telemetry of fawns, and plant surveys to develop spatial-explicit, integrated population models. The UBC-based student will address how landscape and community context impact mule deer forage and exposure to predation. Approaches include herbivore-specific experimental exclosures, plant surveys, multi-species occupancy modelling with camera traps, and telemetry to assess predator-prey interactions, competition, and migratory connectivity.

The PhD students are expected to work collaboratively on this team-based project and to engage with stakeholders, fish and game clubs, provincial range and wildlife agencies, industry, and First Nations.

Desired qualifications for both candidates include experience with or willingness to learn large mammal handling, VHF/GPS telemetry, plant identification, 4x4 vehicle operation, wilderness first aid, GIS analyses, habitat selection, population modeling, and occupancy analysis. Required qualifications include a MSc in ecology or related fields, proficiency in English, and valid driver’s licence and passport.

To apply for these positions, please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname_phd_date.pdf) to boundarydeerproject@gmail.com containing (1) a cover letter indicating: (a) preferred placement location, (b) past experiences in field ecology, and (c) approaches to stakeholder engagement; (2) a recent CV; (3) copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts; (4) copies of GRE scores for US applicants; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “Mule deer PhD application”. We expect the students will commence graduate studies in September 2017. Review of applications will begin November 30th. We anticipate confirmation of funding in March 2017. Prospective candidates are encouraged to apply to the respective graduate programs of their desired placement by January 31st, 2017.

M.S. Research Asisstantshp: Effects of risk-enhancing and nutrition-reducing treatments on white-tailed deer behavior and crop depredation.

Start date: January 2017

Closing date: October 20, 2016

Position description:

We are recruiting a graduate student (M.S.) to lead a study investigating white-tailed deer behavior and response to management actions in the Clearwater Region of Idaho, with the goal of identifying management tools for reducing deer damage to crops. The primary objectives of the project are to: 1) evaluate the effects of crop treatments (increasing perceived predation risk or decreasing nutrition) on deer behavior at multiple spatial scales; 2) characterize the effects of habitat types, deer density, and relative abundance of predators on deer behavior; and 3) identify deer preferences for crop types and natural forages throughout the growing season and phenological stage of plants.

The student will be expected to carry out fieldwork for this project, including contributing to study design, capturing and monitoring female white-tailed deer in an agricultural landscape, assisting with feeding trials, and interacting with landowners, stakeholders, and Idaho Department of Fish & Game personnel.

This project is a collaboration between the University of Idaho and the Idaho Department of Fish & Game. The project is fully funded for 3 years, with an anticipated start date of January 2017. The student will be advised by Dr. Sophie Gilbert (Department of Fish & Wildlife Sciences) while pursuing a Master of Science Degree in Natural Resources. The salary for this position is $22,300 a year, including summer salary.

The University of Idaho is located in scenic Moscow, ID, a vibrant small town (~25,000) in northern Idaho that is well known for its high quality of life, excellent outdoor recreational opportunities, abundant public land, and low cost of living.

Qualifications:

B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology, Natural Resources, or a related field. Strong field, analytical and writing skills, and an inquisitive and creative mindset are required. An interest in and knowledge of ungulate ecology and management is highly beneficial. The student will be expected to produce high-quality manuscripts suitable for peer-reviewed journal publication. Further, because this project is a collaboration with agency personnel and local landowners, applicants with experience living and/or working in rural environments, and/or working with the public and with stakeholder groups, will be given preference.

To apply:

Please send a cover letter outlining your qualifications and why you are applying for this position specifically, a CV, transcripts, GRE scores, and contact information for three references to Dr. Sophie Gilbert (sophiegilbert AT uidaho.edu). The student must also meet the minimum requirements for admission into the Graduate School at UI (https://www.uidaho.edu/admissions/graduate/graduate-programs/natural-resources).

 

Ecosystem services of cougars article is published

Our new paper, quantifying the ecosystem service that cougars can provide by eating deer that would have been hit by a car had they not been eaten, is out in Conservation Letters. Read the accepted version of the article here- and check back for the finalized version later.

Also, we're feeling really fortunate... our work has been covered in the New York Times (here), the Washington Post (here), the Times of London (here), Vox.com (here), and by many other media outlets- thanks to the great media relations teams at the U of Idaho and the U of Washington for all the help!