Demography, migration, and predation in a changing landscape: The Southern Interior Mule Deer Project, British Columbia, Canada. Application Deadline: 18-Jan-2018.

Project description: I am recruiting a PhD student to conduct dissertation research on the impact of landscape change from wildfire and anthropogenic disturbance on the movement, population, and community ecology of mule deer in three study areas distributed across southern British Columbia (BC). In parts of their species range, mule deer undergo migration (surfing the green wave) to maximize access to nutrient-dense forage. In the forested landscapes of British Columbia, the spatial signature driving the green wave of nutrient-rich food may be far patchier due to highfenced roads, agriculture, and urban development, as well as vegetation succession following wildfire and forest harvesting. In addition, vegetation succession may alter mule deer exposure to predation from large carnivores – especially as wolves recolonize parts of the study area. Together, these drivers of landscape change alter the movement patterns and survival of individuals, with consequences for individual fitness and the vital rates of populations. The PhD student will develop and test hypotheses to fill these knowledge gaps and help bring evidence to bear on questions of ecological theory and management practise that will help restore BC’s mule deer populations. Working closely with partners from the BC Government, the Okanagan Nation Alliance, the BC Wildlife Federation, and the University of Idaho, the PhD student will coordinate the deployment and monitoring of 100+ GPS collared adult female mule deer and 60+ GPS-collared juvenile mule deer, along with camera trap surveys and vegetation monitoring. This work is anticipated to be one of the largest studies ever conducted on mule deer in British Columbia.

Expectations: Given their importance as an ecological indicator, as a game species, and for the food security of First Nations, there is widespread community support to better understand factors limiting mule deer abundance in British Columbia. The PhD student is are expected to work collaboratively on this team-based project and to engage with stakeholders, citizen scientists, fish and game clubs, provincial range and wildlife agencies, industry, and First Nations. Outreach and science communication will be an important component of the student’s efforts.

Desired qualifications include field work, experience with large-mammal handling, VHF/GPS telemetry, plant identification, 4×4 vehicle operation, camera trapping, wilderness first aid, GIS analyses, habitat selection, population modeling, occupancy analysis. Preference will be given to students eligible for NSERC CGS funding: http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Students-Etudiants/PG-CS/BellandPostgrad-BelletSuperieures_eng.asp

Required qualifications include a MSc in ecology or related fields, proficiency in English, valid driver’s licence, and demonstration of research productivity (i.e., manuscripts prepared/submitted or papers published).

Compensation: Minimum stipend is set by NSERC PGS-D rate of $21,500 per year plus benefits. Entrance awards are additive and available for highly-competitive applicants. Timeline: 18-Jan-2018 (application deadline for project) -> 31-Jan-18 (application deadline for Biology Graduate Program) -> 01-Sep-18 (anticipated start date).

Setting: Located at the Okanagan Campus of the University of British Columbia (Kelowna, BC), the PhD student will be housed at the Wildlife Restoration Ecology (WiRE) Lab – a vibrant, highly-supportive research environment where everyone knows your name, the sun always shines, and the hens lay soft-boiled egg (http://atford.weebly.com/). The PhD Student will have the opportunity to engage with members of the BRAES Institute (http://braes.ok.ubc.ca/) and the Vancouver-based Biodiversity Research Center (https://biodiversity.ubc.ca/). See link for program information for the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus, Biology Graduate Program: http://biol.ok.ubc.ca/graduate/biology.html

Application instructions: Please email me [adam.ford@ubc.ca] a single PDF [LASTNAME_FIRSTNAME.pdf] that includes: 1) ~1 page cover letter indicating (a) past experiences in field ecology (b) approaches/experience with science outreach and community engagement (c) your anticipated fit with the WiRE Lab; (2) a recent CV; (3) copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts; (4) contact information for 2-3 references. Please use the subject header “Mule deer PhD application”. I expect the student will commence graduate studies in September 2017, but this is negotiable if needed. Review of applications will begin January 18th and the student will be expected to apply to the UBC-O Biology Graduate Program by January 31st, 2017.