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 ( and the Okanagan Nation Alliance (, one student will be supervised by Dr. Sophie Gilbert ( at the University of Idaho and one student will be supervised by Dr. Adam Ford ( 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 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.


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 The student must also meet the minimum requirements for admission into the Graduate School at UI (


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), (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!