Two PhD studentships in Aquatic Community Ecology

Biology, Concordia University, Fall 2019
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Applications are invited for two fully funded studentships on research towards understanding and predicting the structure of aquatic ecological communities.

We are seeking students interested in understanding the broad-scale processes structuring aquatic ecological communities.  Because aquatic ecosystems are widely recognized for providing many features valued by humans, the proposed research also aims at generating scientific knowledge to improve conservation and management strategies. The research will be largely based on quantitative developments that will be validated using existing large-scale empirical datasets.  The specifics of the project will be determined jointly by the successful candidate, supervisors and collaborators (see below).

PhD studentship 1 – The mechanisms underlying the co-existence of lake-fish.   Although there is much need to establish the links between different dimensions of biodiversity (such as species richness, functional diversity, phylogenetic diversity) and ecosystem services such as fish biomass that are important to human societies, this knowledge is still quite sparse.  The goal of this studentship is to study the linkages between variation in species attributes (traits, phylogenies, physiology) and environmental characteristics of lakes, to understand and predict patterns of species co-occurrence and biomass distribution.

PhD studentship 2 – Predicting abundance and biomass from presence-absence species distributions. There is a long history in ecology on predicting abundance from presence-absence data. Species abundances are central to understanding the more complex processes underlying ecological communities. Moreover, being able to predict patterns of species abundance and biomass across landscapes is central to conservation and managing ecosystem services. The goal of this studentship is to generate improved models for predicting species abundances and biomass, and to understand the ecological principles that allow to understand the conditions in which predictions are improved.     

Collaborative Research – The positions will be part of a collaborative research involving Dylan Fraser (Concordia Univ. Research Chair in Population Biodiversity and Conservation), Eric Pedersen (Fisheries and Oceans Canada), Pedro R. Peres-Neto (Canada Research Chair in Spatial Ecology and Biodiversity), Nigel Lester and Brian Shuter (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry), Ken Minns (Fisheries and Oceans Canada & University of Toronto) and Donald Jackson (University of Toronto.  Students will be members of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Studies ( and be considered to become fellows of the NSERC-funded training program in Computational Biodiversity Science and Services.  

Requirements – Key requirements include a solid quantitative background, familiarity with programming using modern quantitative software (such as R, Python, or MATLAB), and strong understanding of community ecology or related fisheries and aquatic sciences pertinent to the research focus.

Application – If you are interested in graduate study within this exciting program please send a current CV, unofficial transcripts, and contact information for three academic/research references to Pedro Peres-Neto (  We are recruiting for students to begin in September 2019, but flexibility may be possible.


MSc project on the development of chorus frog monitoring and assessment protocols

In collaboration with Blazing Star Environmental and the Canadian Wildlife Service, we are designing a long-term monitoring program to estimate changes in the distribution of the western chorus frog across its Canadian range. Western Chorus frogs are highly cryptic and are listed as Threatened in Canada, it is therefore essential that robust monitoring protocols be developed to document population status, distribution and trends. The project will involve conducting field surveys and assessing factors affecting species occupancy and detectability in their natural habitat. Ultimately, the project will involve development of protocols for chorus frog monitoring as well as models predicting their habitat suitability and detectability, for broader use in long-term population monitoring.

The funding package includes a competitive stipend as well as coverage of all field-related travel and other expenses. Successful candidates will have a BSc in Biology or related field, familiarity with and quantitative skills in occupancy and habitat modeling, a strong work ethic, and interest in working collaboratively in a large and diverse research group. Additional desirable skills include amphibian field skills and working independently.

To apply, please send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, unofficial academic transcript, and contact information for 3 references to: Dennis Murray ( The successful candidate will begin enrolment at Trent University by May (preferably) or September 2019, and we will accept applications until a suitable candidate is found, so apply early. See for additional information.


M.Sc. opportunity in forest ecology and modelling

Title: Effect of intra-stand spatial structure on succession dynamics in a mixed boreal forest

Context and project overview: Understanding the succession dynamics of a forest following a major disturbance, such as a fire or harvest, is essential for developing management plans that maintain the forest’s biodiversity and ecosystem functions. In the mixed boreal forests of northwest Québec, this succession follows well-known general patterns, but multiple outcomes are possible depending on stand and landscape-level factors. This project aims to determine to which extent the spatial organization of the different species and age classes at the stand level (i.e. one or a few hectares) affects the long-term composition and productivity of the stand.

This project will use the data from permanent census plots at the Lake Duparquet Research and Teaching Forest (FERLD). The student will simulate stand dynamics with the SORTIE-ND forest model, with initial conditions matching empirical stand structure, and compare the composition and structure of the simulation outputs with that of census plots measured at different times since fire.

Location: The student will be based at the Institut de recherche sur les forêts (IRF) at the Rouyn-Noranda campus of the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue, under the supervision of Philippe Marchand. The IRF offers a dynamic research environment, with 10 faculty members and over 60 graduate students working on a variety of topics with direct applications to sustainable forest management. IRF students also benefit from resources and professional development opportunities offered through the Québec Center for Forest Research (

Financial support: A scholarship of 18 000 $ per year for two years is provided.

Required profile: A good or excellent academic record, an interest in ecology and forestry research, and experience with (or interest in) computer programming for simulations or statistical analyses.

Start date: Fall 2019

To apply: Send a curriculum vitae, a cover letter, an academic transcript and the contact information for two references to Philippe Marchand ( The position will be open until filled, with priority given to applications received before March 8, 2019.


Ph.D. Position Molecular Microbial Ecology

The Heath Research Group at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), University of Windsor is seeking a Ph.D. student to lead a project investigating the microbial communities associated with sediment-water nutrient flux processes. We specifically want to target gene transcription profiles associated with nutrient flux variation across multiple environmental stressors and develop early warning indicators of nutrient flux based on multigene transcriptional profiles. The student would thus be trained in fieldwork, microbial genomics and transcriptomics and advanced bioinformatics. The student will work closely with Industry partners, the Essex Region Conversation Authority and Government laboratories (Environment and Climate Change Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada). GLIER is an internationally recognized interdisciplinary research institute with advanced genomics and microbial infrastructure situated on the shores of the Detroit River.

Requirements: Experience in any of Microbiology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Computer Science, with an interest in microbial ecology and evolution. Experience in bioinformatics (especially metagenomics and metatranscriptomics), mathematical modeling and/or molecular biology are strong assets but not absolute requirements. Canadian citizens and landed immigrants will be given first consideration. The most important qualifications are strong motivation to learn new things and solve problems and willingness to participate in research expeditions and to pursue research in an interdisciplinary framework.
To apply, please send an email (Subject: Ph.D. student Molecular Microbial Ecology) to Dr. Daniel Heath ( and Dr. Subba Rao Chaganti ( with a cover letter describing previous research experience and interests, a C.V., and contact information for two to three references.
Application deadline: open until filled
Start date: ASAP
Location: Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research,

University of Windsor, Windsor, ON, Canada


PhD Assistantship in Wildlife Biology at the University of Montana

Long-Term Research in Elk Population Dynamics, Migration, and Predator- Prey Dynamics

I am anticipating having one position in Fall 2019 for 1 PhD project focused on long-term research on elk population dynamics in a partially migratory system, elk-bison-wolf dynamics, and wolf-elk predator-prey dynamics. This is part of an NSF-funded Long-term Research in Environmental Biology (LTREB). The PhD student will work with long-term datasets on wolves, elk, vegetation and climate change collected in the Ya Ha Tinda ecosystem, Banff National Park, from 2002 to the present. The study area is also the site of a recent Parks Canada Bison re-introduction program<>, so there are opportunities for elk-wolf-bison modeling and empirical analyses working closely with Parks Canada collaborators.  The exact nature of the research focus for this PhD student is intellectually quite open, and would be well-suited to students with spatial, dynamic, and empirical modeling and field skill sets.

The Ya Ha Tinda Elk Project: We have collected long-term data on over 250 individually marked adult female elk, including survival, reproduction, and migration. We have also collected data from over 30 GPS collared wolves since 2002. See for more information about the study area and project. The project is highly collaborative in nature, jointly lead by Dr. Mark Hebblewhite (University of Montana) and Dr. Evelyn Merrill<> (University of Alberta) together with Alberta Fish and Wildlife and Parks Canada, Banff National Park. There are opportunities to take courses or be in residence at the University of Alberta, for example.

Qualifications: M.Sc./M.A. in wildlife biology, ecology, conservation biology, or related field; outstanding work ethic; exceptional quantitative skills and motivation; field experience in ungulate or predator ecology preferred; experience with analyses of GPS movement data from animals; demonstrated excellence in oral and written communication and interpersonal skills; demonstrated experience working with wildlife management agencies. Experience with statistical modeling, programming, R, JAGS, GIS analyses, remote sensing, scientific writing, and spatial modeling an asset.

How to apply: send cover letter summarizing interest and relevant experience, resume/CV, unofficial transcripts, GRE scores, and contact information (including phone and email – letters not required at initial screening stage) for 3 references to Dr. Mark Hebblewhite (<>), Wildlife Biology Program, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula, MT, USA, 59812. See here<> for more information about ongoing projects in my lab. The position is anticipated to start, pending funding, in Fall 2019. While the University of Montana Wildlife Biology Program application deadline is Jan 15, 2019, late applications will be considered with review of applications starting February 25, 2019.