PhD opportunity studying non-breeding urban bird movement and ecology in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Drs. Elizabeth Gow and David Green are seeking a PhD student to join their research teams at the Simon Fraser University.

We are a supportive research group that fosters an equitable and inclusive environment for all members to have equal opportunities to grow, develop, and succeed. We strongly encourage applications from members of traditionally under-represented groups.

Project description: Working closely with Environment and Climate Change Canada, and NGOs partners, the student will study non-breeding urban bird movement, habitat use, and ecology in metro Vancouver, British Columbia.

The student will build upon existing mark-recapture datasets, and motus tracking data on several urban non-breeding sparrow species (e.g. golden-crowned sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, spotted towhees, American robin) that spend the non-breeding season in urban parks and yards. They will also have the opportunity to further develop projects suited to their interests. The results of this research have the potential to help inform urban greening initiatives and the effectiveness of nature-based solutions.

Necessary qualifications: Completion of a BSc and MSc in Biology, Ecology, Environmental Science, Wildlife Management, or other relevant field or equivalent degree. Driver’s licence. Must meet the criteria for admission to graduate studies in the Department of Biological Studies at Simon Fraser University: The student must be proficient enough at handling, banding, and aging passerines independently to get a bird banding sub-permit within the first year of their PhD. Willingness to work and live in metro Vancouver and conduct fieldwork during the winter. Eagerness to engage and work along-side members of the public including in people’s yard and other public areas.

Beneficial qualifications: Experience using GIS and R, as well as fieldwork in ecology would be an asset. Proficient BC bird identification skills by sight and sound. The student will be working with and leading large field crews so the ability to manage, schedule and communicate with a diversity of people is highly beneficial.

Location: The student will be based at Simon Fraser University and must live in the metro Vancouver area. Fieldwork occurs from October to March. Accommodations are not provided. The student will be co-supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Gow ( and Dr. David Green (, and be a part of the Centre for Wildlife Ecology (

Timeline and Salary: The ideal candidate would start 1 Jan, 1 May, or 1 Sept 2025 but the start date is flexible. Minimum stipend at SFU is $30,000CD. Please submit your unofficial transcript, CV, cover letter indicating how you meet the above qualifications, a 1-page personal statement describing your accomplishments, challenges, and background, and contact information for three references to and by 26 July 2024. Preference will be given to Canadian citizens or permanent residents, but all applicants that meet the necessary qualifications are encouraged to apply.