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.