Location: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

Supervisors: Dr. Philip McLoughlin, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

Deadline to Apply: Contact by Oct 25, 2018

Salary: Dependent on internal Scholarship (U of S Dean’s Scholarship Opportunity).

Start date: January 1st 2019 or May 1st 2019 (negotiable).

Project: We are looking to recruit a PhD student to contribute to our long-term, individual-based study of feral horses on Sable Island (Nova Scotia, Canada) initiated in 2007. There are several opportunities for the student to develop exciting thesis chapters and papers, including those based on linking horse survival and reproduction to grasslands enriched by sea-to-land nutrient transfers by seals; developing a fuller understanding of the role of horses in nutrient flows on the island with consequences for island biogeography (including theory); understanding the critical role of density and intraspecific density-dependent processes in population dynamics (from an individual-based perspective); and other fundamental questions of population ecology, life history, behaviour and sociobiology, parasitism, conservation, and evolution. We are particularly looking for mature M.Sc. students that are interested in developing a Ph.D. program that will contribute to and make use of and lead the archiving of the long-term data set the lab is collecting on the life histories of the horses on the island (>1000 life histories in the database, which is now one of the largest for a large vertebrate in the world). Sample sizes are large, with ~500 horses alive on the island as at Aug 2018. Next summer will be the 12th year of data collection, which includes summer censusing and identification of all individuals on the island using digital photography, and documentation of individual life histories with the goal of constructing whole-island pedigrees (the latter, and all molecular ecology questions, are being addressed by collaborator Dr. Jocelyn Poissant, at the University of Calgary). The student’s overall program will be a collaborative project benefiting from close interaction with the Poissant lab, with other opportunities to collaborate on campus or at other universities (e.g., Alastair Wilson lab at Exeter).

The student will spend up to 2 months on Sable Island each summer for fieldwork. Daily tasks, shared by the entire research team, will include walking censuses and photography of horses, collection of samples, laboratory work, identification of individuals from digital photographs, and database management. Students visiting Sable Island must work well in teams, deal well with life in a remote research station, be able to travel by small airplane, fishing trawler, helicopter, or frigate, and be reasonably fit as walking censuses require lots of hiking. Courses on first aid and driving all-terrain vehicles will be provided prior to fieldwork.

While all applications are welcomed, this position is scholarship-dependent; hence, preference will be given to Canadians who are competitive for a U of S Dean’s Scholarship and/or an NSERC scholarship. This will require M.Sc. publications and exceptionally good grades (GPA > 3.8) and a track record of past awards.

To apply send an email titled SABLE ISLAND PHD 2018 to

  • A short summary of research interests
  • Copies of your publications and description of role in these papers
  • A current CV
  • PDFs of undergraduate and graduate transcripts
  • The names and email addresses of 2 or 3 potential references