PhD projects on population viability and long-term conservation of endangered small-mouthed salamanders

We are seeking two PhD candidates to extend long-term efforts to understand the ecology, genetics, and conservation status of endangered small-mouthed salamanders and reliant unisexual salamanders on Pelee Island, Ontario, Canada. The salamander complex on Pelee Island is currently at risk because of combined impacts of habitat loss and kleptoparasitism by unisexual salamanders (see Bare et al. 2023. Oecologia 202: 807-818). Using our extensive dataset of thousands of genotyped salamanders from breeding locations across the island, combined with island-wide assessment of salamander habitat suitability and connectivity, PhD#1 will investigate the impacts of further habitat loss and strategic habitat restoration on small-mouthed salamander population viability and meta-population dynamics. PhD#2 will extend these efforts to explore how potential long-term changes in genetic structure of local salamander communities will affect small-mouthed salamander population sustainability and persistence of the reliant unisexuals. The research will involve conducting field surveys for adult and larval salamanders, assessing habitat quality across breeding wetlands, conducting genotyping, and modeling population viability and genotype variation under a variety of scenarios. There is opportunity to further tailor student research projects according to interests and expertise.

The funding package includes a competitive stipend, international tuition fee waiver, as well as coverage of all professional expenses. Successful candidates must have an MSc in Biology, Ecology, or a related field, and experience with peer-reviewed publication of past research findings is a high priority. Candidates should have experience more than one of the following areas: amphibian fieldwork, GIS, statistics using R software, genotyping, and population analysis. Successful candidates will have a strong work ethic and interest in working collaboratively in a large and diverse research group.

To apply, please send: i) cover letter highlighting relevant prior experience and interests corresponding to the above program priorities, ii) curriculum vitae, iii) unofficial academic transcript, and iv) contact information for 3 references. The successful candidate(s) will be co-supervised by Tom Hossie (www.thomashossie.ca) and Dennis Murray (www.dennismurray.ca) at Trent University and applications should be sent to thossie@trentu.ca and dennismurray@trentu.ca. The graduate positions will begin in May 2024 or September 2024, and the postings will be closed as soon as suitable candidates are found.