Ph.D. project : Forecasting the spread of spruce budworm outbreaks

Context

The spruce budworm  (SBW,  Choristoneura fumiferana) is the most important defoliating insect of coniferous stands in North America. In 2017, this insect affected an area of 7 million hectares, more than 12% of Quebec’s boreal forest.

The frequency of SBW outbreaks has changed over the last century, and both their frequency and severity are expected to increase due to climate change. Thus, if we could improve our capacity to forecast which areas will be affected by an ongoing outbreak, the economic (timber loss and growth reduction) and ecological (carbon emissions) impacts of the outbreaks could be partly mitigated.

Objectives and Methodology

This project aims to develop spatiotemporal models of the spread of SBW outbreaks at the scale of Quebec, as a function of the climate and the structure of the forest landscape. Those models will synthesize various sources of data already available (aerial surveys, remote sensing, dendrochronological series). Several advanced approaches to ecological modeling (hierarchical models, machine learning) will be used and the resulting models will be evaluated on their ability to predict the dynamics of an outbreak after being trained on data from the previous outbreak. Access to Compute Canada supercomputers will allow the application of complex models to large datasets.

Keywords: sustainable forest management, climate change, forest ecology, spatial modelling, natural disturbances.

Location: The student will be based at the Forest Research Institute (IRF; https://www.uqat.ca/programmes/irf/) at the Rouyn-Noranda or Amos campus of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and will be co-supervised by Philippe Marchand (https://bit.ly/2DFyGl6) and Miguel Montoro Girona (https://bit.ly/34LfttX). The IRF is dynamic, multicultural and international and provides a quality environment for students to develop their research, with 12 professors and more than 60 graduate students working on very diverse topics such as forest dynamics, silviculture, genetics, biodiversity, ecophysiology and sustainable forest management. IRF students also benefit from professional development resources and opportunities (scholarships, participation in conferences, workshops) offered by the Centre for Forest Research (www.cef-cfr.ca). In addition, the student will be a member of the Chair in Sustainable Forest Management (http://chaireafd.uqat.ca/). As part of this project, the student will also have the option of completing an international internship funded with our collaborators in the United States (Harvard University) or the Netherlands (Wageningen University).

Funding: $21,000 annual scholarship for 3 years.

Preferred qualifications: Master’s in ecology or forestry with an interest in statistics and modelling, OR Master’s in mathematics, statistics, geomatics or informatics, with an interest in their environmental applications in a context of climate change.

Preferred start date: Summer or Fall 2020

Project collaborators: Yves Bergeron (UQAT), Mathieu Bouchard (MFFP), Louis De Grandpré (SCF), Matthew Duveneck (Harvard), Élise Filotas (TÉLUQ), Anouschka Hof (Wageningen), Hubert Morin (UQAC), Pierre Therrien (MFFP).

Are you ready to begin your Ph.D. on this fascinating topic? Send your CV, a cover letter, a transcript and contact information for two references to Philippe Marchand (philippe.marchand@uqat.ca) and Miguel Montoro Girona (miguel.montoro@uqat.ca). Review of applications will start on January 20, 2020 and continue until the position is filled. A professional adventure in the great boreal forest of Abitibi awaits you!

Links :

Abitibi-Témiscamingue Tourism : https://www.abitibi-temiscamingue-tourism.org/

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M.Sc. project: Historical impact of climate on the defoliation of black spruce by the spruce budworm

Context

The spruce budworm  (SBW,  Choristoneura fumiferana) is the most important defoliating insect of coniferous stands in North America. In 2017, this insect affected an area of 7 million hectares, more than 12% of Quebec’s boreal forest.

Black spruce, one of the most abundant and economically important species in the boreal forest, is relatively resistant to SBW outbreaks. However, studies have shown that a warming climate, creating greater synchronicity between the emergence of black spruce buds and SBW larvae, would increase the susceptibility of this species to future outbreaks.

Objectives and Methodology

This project aims to determine the interaction between climate and defoliation caused by SBW on the growth of forest stands in the 20th century throughout Quebec. We will use existing dendrochronological (tree ring measurements) databases  for black spruce and the other SBW-affected species, white spruce and balsam fir, to model their growth as a function of climate in the presence or absence of an outbreak (https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2018.01905). Hierarchical models will allow dendrochronological series to be combined with other sources of information on outbreaks (e.g. aerial surveys since 1968) and produce more accurate maps of the historical progression of SBW activity. Access to Compute Canada supercomputers will allow the application of complex models to large datasets.

Keywords: sustainable forest management, climate change, forest ecology, dendrochronology, natural disturbances.

Location: The student will be based at the Forest Research Institute (IRF; https://www.uqat.ca/programmes/irf/) at the Rouyn-Noranda or Amos campus of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and will be co-supervised by Philippe Marchand (https://bit.ly/2DFyGl6) and Miguel Montoro Girona (https://bit.ly/34LfttX). The IRF is dynamic, multicultural and international and provides a quality environment for students to develop their research, with 12 professors and more than 60 graduate students working on very diverse topics such as forest dynamics, silviculture, genetics, biodiversity, ecophysiology and sustainable forest management. IRF students also benefit from professional development resources and opportunities (scholarships, participation in conferences, workshops) offered by the Centre for Forest Research (www.cef-cfr.ca). In addition, the student will be a member of the Chair in Sustainable Forest Management (http://chaireafd.uqat.ca/). As part of this project, the student will also have the option of completing an international internship funded with our collaborators in the United States (Harvard University) or the Netherlands (Wageningen University).

Funding: $18,000 annual scholarship for 2 years.

Preferred qualifications: Undergraduate degree in biology, ecology, environmental science or forestry with an interest in statistics, GIS and modelling, OR degree in mathematics, statistics, geomatics or informatics, with an interest in their environmental applications in a context of climate change.

Preferred start date: Summer or Fall 2020

Project collaborators: Yves Bergeron (UQAT), Mathieu Bouchard (MFFP), Louis De Grandpré (SCF), Matthew Duveneck (Harvard), Élise Filotas (TÉLUQ), Anouschka Hof (Wageningen), Hubert Morin (UQAC), Pierre Therrien (MFFP).

Are you ready to begin your Master’s on this fascinating topic? Send your CV, a cover letter, a transcript and contact information for two references to Philippe Marchand (philippe.marchand@uqat.ca) and Miguel Montoro Girona (miguel.montoro@uqat.ca). Review of applications will start on January 20, 2020 and continue until the position is filled. A professional adventure in the great boreal forest of Abitibi awaits you!

Links :

Abitibi-Témiscamingue Tourism : https://www.abitibi-temiscamingue-tourism.org/

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PhD/MSc on the assembly of ecological networks along abiotic gradients (Montreal: Canada). Application deadline: February 1st, 2020.

Our lab is looking for graduate students to work on the assembly of ecological networks along environmental gradients (http://jeanphilippelessard.com/). We aim to use newly developed theoretical and analytical models using functional traits to infer ecological processes underlying the structure of interaction networks. We further aim to assess how the relative influence of such processes shaping resource-consumer networks vary along broad-scale environmental gradients. The selected students will have the freedom to develop her/his own project under this topic, and will have the opportunity to use existing empirical datasets and generate new ones. Our lab is currently working on hostparasite interactions in dragonflies along temperature gradients, plant-root microbe interactions in alpine ecosystems and plant-frugivore interactions at the global scale.

Potential applicants interested in these projects should have a good knowledge of network and trait-based ecology concepts and methods, strong analytical skills in R or other programing language, and the ability to handle large datasets. Prior experience conducting fieldwork and/or is an important asset for projects requiring new data acquisition. Prior knowledge of plants and/or insects and/or microbes is an asset.

Expected starting date is August 2020, but could be as early as May 2020. The position includes funding for stipend and research activities, but students that are competitive for external funding will have priority. Concordia University also offers entrance fellowship for students with strong academic and/or research experience record. Funded positions involve some teaching in the Department of Biology at Concordia University. Selected applicant(s) is/are expected to apply for external funding, participate in regular lab meetings, attend departmental seminars, publish results in peer-reviewed journals and present their research in national and international meetings. Demonstrated experience publishing in peer-reviewed journals is a must.

Applicants should email Dr. Jean-Philippe Lessard (jp.lessard@concordia.ca). This email should include: (i) 3-4 paragraphs describing research interests, relevant past experiences, and fit for the position (ii) an updated CV, and (iii) all unofficial transcripts pertaining to your previous or ongoing studies. Complete applications must be received by the school of graduate studies (http://www.concordia.ca/admissions/graduate.html) by February 1st, 2020. Applicants from minorities and/or Latin countries are encouraged to apply.

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PhD and MSc Position available: Development of a program for captive breeding and reintroduction of the Chorus Frog

The Chorus Frog is at risk in some areas, leading to the development of a recovery strategy for this species. As part of a university, government and public collaboration, we offer a graduate student position (PhD/MSc; uOttawa). The student will be co-supervised by Vance Trudeau (University of Ottawa; captive breeding) and Marc Mazerolle (Université Laval; reintroduction). We are looking for a dynamic and independent candidate to seize this unique research opportunity. A willingness to work with government partners and NGOs is an advantage. The projects are funded, including a scholarship and the position is available immediately.. Please send a letter of motivation (maximum 1 page in English or French), accompanied by your CV, an unofficial university transcript and the names of three potential references as soon as possible to Vance Trudeau (trudeauv@uottawa.ca).
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Graduate student positions in evolutionary ecology: wildfire and amphibian range limits

The Lee-Yaw lab at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta Canada is looking to recruit 1-2 graduate students to work on the evolutionary ecology of range limits.

Current, priority projects in the lab are focused on the long-toed salamander and include:

1) Wildfire effects on genetic diversity and population connectivity

The frequency and severity of wildfires are increasing around the world, making it imperative to understand the effects of these events on wildlife populations and species of conservation concern in particular. In collaboration with Parks Canada, the Lee-Yaw lab is investigating the effects of the 2017 Kenow Wildfire on long-toed salamanders in Waterton Lakes National Park. Long-toed salamanders occur at the edge of their range in Alberta where they are considered a species of Special Concern. The Kenow Wildfire was a severe disturbance event affecting >40% of vegetated areas in the park including many of the breeding ponds used by this species. Taking advantage of pre- and post-fire samples from across the park, we will assess changes in genetic diversity and patterns of gene flow in response to the fire. This work includes opportunities for fieldwork in the stunning setting of Waterton Lakes National Park and surrounding areas of the Rocky Mountains. The project will involve molecular lab work and modelling landscape connectivity with GIS data. This project is best-suited for an MSc student, although could be extended to a PhD.  Applicants should have a background or coursework in evolution, population biology, and/or ecology. Molecular lab experience is a strong assets, as is field experience, familiarity with R, and/or experience working with GIS datasets.

For more information on this project, visit:  https://julleeyaw.weebly.com/wildfire-project.html

2) Genomic perspectives on range limits

I am seeking a motivated PhD student to collect and analyze genomic data (ddRADseq and/or transcriptome data) for the long-toed salamander. This species is found throughout the Pacific Northwest and is comprised of several, genetically distinct subspecies. The boundaries between subspecies afford an opportunity to study parapatric range limits involving hybridization while the species’ eastern range limits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains represent an opportunity to study limits to adaptation and range limits along elevational gradients. Tissue samples from across the species’ range are available. A number of dissertation projects involving these samples are possible, including testing genetic explanations for range limits, examining hybrid zone dynamics and cytonuclear interactions, and testing biogeographic hypotheses of historical range dynamics. Prior experience in the molecular lab is essential and priority will be given to candidates who have experience with next-generation sequencing (library preparation and SNP calling). Protocol optimization and bioinformatics will be done in collaboration with other labs and may involve opportunities to travel. There is scope to pair the genomic data with other types of data (field or lab experiments, or GIS modelling) depending on the student’s interests and progress.

Other projects within the scope of my research program may be considered depending on funding.

General inquiries should be sent to Julie Lee-Yaw (julie.leeyaw@uleth.ca). Applications should be sent by December 20. Please use the subject line “Graduate Studies” and include 1) a brief statement of research interests, 2) relevant experience, 3) a current CV, 4) unofficial copies of academic transcripts, and 5) intended start data and whether you are seeking a MSc or PhD. U of L deadlines for applying to graduate school are February 1 (for a May start date) and May 1 (for fall start). All students are encouraged to apply for external funding.

The Lee-Yaw lab is committed to diversity and inclusion and welcomes applications from students with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.

Additional Information:

Lee-Yaw Lab: https://julleeyaw.weebly.com/

U of L Biological Sciences: https://www.uleth.ca/artsci/biological-sciences

U of L Graduate Studies: https://www.uleth.ca/future-student/graduate-studies/

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Graduate student positions, University of Toronto Scarborough

The Wang lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at University of Toronto Scarborough is looking for graduate students interested in genomics and symbiosis between microbial fungi and insects to start in Fall 2020. Interested applicants should apply through the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate program at University of Toronto (deadline Jan. 7th, 2020).

Major efforts in the lab include: 1) assembling high-quality fungal genomes using long-read sequencing data, 2) developing phylogenomic markers for molecular systematics of early-diverging fungi, 3) investigating population genomic structure of insect-associated fungi, and 4) examining experimental evolution and gene expression preference of insect gut-dwelling fungi. We use combined approaches in field collection, host-microbe interactions, and bioinformatics. For additional information on our research activities, please check our recent papers at http://individual.utoronto.ca/yanwang/publications.html. The Wang lab is strongly committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Qualifications:

Applicants should have research interests and relevant experience in either Mycology, Entomology, or Bioinformatics. A Master of Science degree is generally eligible for entrance into our Ph.D. program. A bachelor’s degree in either Biology or Science is required before Fall 2020 for the M.Sc. or direct-entry Ph.D. programs. Those with experience of phylogenomics, comparative transcriptomics, gene editing, or molecular biology are highly encouraged. More details can be found at http://www.eeb.utoronto.ca/grad/prosp.htm.

For inquiries, please contact Dr. Yan Wang at yanxw.wang@utoronto.ca. Please include your most recent CV and a brief research statement (less than 1 page) summarizing your research interests and experience. Further information can also be found at http://individual.utoronto.ca/yanwang/contact.html.

The University of Toronto is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons / persons of colour, women, Indigenous / Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

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Graduate student positions in plant evolutionary ecology at the University of Guelph

I am looking for graduate students (MS or PhD) interested in studying the effect of pollinator declines on floral evolution in native wildflowers.

For more information on my lab, check out:

www.christinamariecaruso.com

Students will have considerable freedom to develop their projects, and could start in either Fall 2020 or Winter 2021.

Interested candidates should email me at carusoc@uoguelph.ca. Please include a statement of interest, CV, and transcript (unofficial is fine). Because of funding restrictions, preference will be given to candidates who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants.

Christina M. (Chris) Caruso
Associate Professor
Department of Integrative Biology
University of Guelph
Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1 Canada

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Ph.D. position in cognitive ecology in the Dukas’ lab

We are looking for prospective PhD students who are interested in conducting research on the evolutionary biology and genomics of individual and social cognition. Students may choose to develop their own direction or get involved in one of our ongoing projects, which include social cognition and behavior, sexual conflict, expertise and perseverance. Currently, the lab has four graduate students and a dozen senior undergraduate students.

We are part of a large and highly interactive inter-departmental animal behaviour and evolutionary biology group consisting of about 24 faculty, several postdocs and 50 graduate students. We offer generous financial support and superb research infrastructure.

Prospective candidates are invited to read relevant material on our web site (http://psych.mcmaster.ca/dukas/) and then contact us via email (dukas@mcmaster.ca). We will give priority to prospective students with relevant research experience and high marks in pertinent course work.

McMaster University is located in Hamilton, Ontario, a culturally diverse city of 500,000 people, located less than an hour from Toronto. Hamilton offers a great quality of life and is experiencing a post-industrial revival. Resources include easy access to natural wonders such as Niagara Falls and the Niagara Escarpment, an expanding network of bike paths, seasonal climate, and a burgeoning food and nightlife scene.

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MSc/PhD positions on the biogeography of plasticity and social organization in Nearctic and Neotropical ants

We are recruiting one or more MSc/PhD students to work on several projects related to
the geography of social organization in ants. The projects aim to understand how
broad-scale variation in the biotic and abiotic environment affects the social
organization and functional trait diversity within ant colonies and between populations.
These projects could involve fieldwork in the Tropical Rainforest and Andean
Mountains of Ecuador and Colombia in collaboration with the labs of Drs. David A.
Donoso (Ecuador) and Inge Armbrecht (Colombia). There are possibilities of
expanding this work in the USA in collaboration with labs in Indiana and Vermont.
Work associated with these projects will involve raising ant colonies in the laboratory,
extensive fieldwork and analyses of large databases on ant functional traits and social
structure.

Potential applicants interested in these projects should meet one or several of the
following criteria: previous experience (1) conducting field work in tropical
ecosystems or remote areas (for up to 4 months), (2) raising ants or other insects in
laboratory conditions, (3) performing manipulative field experiments, (4) performing
statistical analyses in R and (5) being very excited about studying ants! Selected
student(s) will spend long hours doing field work in difficult and isolated condition,
performing taxonomic identification of arthropods, and counting and measuring ants
under the microscope. The ability to speak French and/or Spanish is a good asset, but
not obligatory. Potential candidates(s) must possess a valid driver license.

Expected starting date is August 2020, but could be as early as May 2020. The
positions include funding for stipend and research activities, but students that are
competitive for external funding will have priority. Concordia University also offers
entrance fellowship for students with strong academic and/or research experience
record. Funded positions involve some teaching in the Department of Biology at
Concordia University. Selected applicant(s) is/are expected to apply for external
funding, participate in regular lab meetings, attend departmental seminars, publish
results in peer-reviewed journals and present their research in national and international
meetings. Demonstrated experience publishing in peer-reviewed journals is a must.

Applicants should email Dr. Jean-Philippe Lessard (jp.lessard@concordia.ca). This
email should include: (i) 3-4 paragraphs describing research interests, relevant past
experiences, and fit for the position (ii) an updated CV, and (iii) all unofficial
transcripts pertaining to your previous or ongoing studies. Complete applications must
be received by the school of graduate studies
(http://www.concordia.ca/admissions/graduate.html) by February 1st, 2020. Applicants
from minorities and/or Latin countries are encouraged to apply.

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PhD or MSc project on the role of pathogens and predators on larval amphibians

The Integrative Wildlife Conservation lab at Trent University is initiating an MSc or PhD project to assess the lethal and sublethal effects of pathogens and predators on larval amphibians. Our team has conducted extensive work on tadpole-predator interactions, and we recently extended our efforts to tadpole-pathogen interactions. Currently, we are interested in documenting how pathogens such as ranavirus or chytrid fungus, which are strongly implicated in amphibian population declines worldwide, may impact larval amphibian behaviour and physiology both directly as well as through interactions with other stressors, like predation risk. Through controlled experiments and extensive behavioural/physiological assessment, the project will document the potentially complex role of these important pathogens on amphibians. For a PhD degree, the experiments will be expanded to include more stressors, multiple amphibian species or pathogen strains, epigenetics, or other extensions in areas that are of interest to the candidate.

The successful candidate will have a BSc/MSc in Biology, Ecology, or a related field, strong quantitative and writing skills, experience with conducting experiments/and or working with amphibians, and an interest in working collaboratively within a large and diverse research group. PhD candidates must have demonstrated success in publishing their work in the peer-reviewed literature. For additional details, see www.dennismurray.ca and www.thomashossie.ca.

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

The position will start in May 2020.

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