Job Title:Post-doctoral fellow in Northern Boreal Caribou Ecology and Conservation

Location: Animal Population Ecology Lab (, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan, 112 Science Place, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada; in collaboration with Dr. Cheryl Johnson, Science and Technology Branch, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Ottawa, ON.

Closing: Please submit application materials by April 25th, 2024. Interviews will be conducted shortly thereafter or until the position is filled. Start date is flexible, but with July 2024 as the preferred date.

Apply: Contact Philip McLoughlin ( Please write “Postdoctoral Fellowship” as the subject line. Include in your email a motivation letter, CV, and contact information for two references. Only short-listed applicants will be interviewed online.


We invite applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow to address knowledge gaps in the ecology and conservation of northern Boreal Caribou populations in Canada, with particular focus on relationships between caribou survival, recruitment, and persistence probability as it relates to apparent competition, natural disturbance, anthropogenic disturbance, and forecasted changes in climate and anticipated changes in natural-resource use over the long-term. This is a collaborative research opportunity that will draw on funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada), and the Government of Saskatchewan.

Research questions and opportunities of immediate interest, with data in-hand, relate to:

1) The primary productivity hypothesis of apparent competition as it relates to caribou, alternate prey, and predator-prey dynamics particularly in terms of forecasted changes throughout caribou range with climate change and increased human footprint in northern environments, including mining and human appropriation of primary production through logging;

2) Changes in predator-prey functional responses to anthropogenic features (e.g., linear features [LFs] on the landscape) and thresholds at which predators like wolves become first attracted to using LFs, and caribou avoid them, to disrupt spatial separation strategies of caribou. The approach here would be to use existing data to analyze the effects of human (e.g., LFs) and natural (wildfire) disturbance on individual adult survival and components of recruitment (parturition, neonate survival, recruitment) to link fates of fitness to disturbance elements.

3) Disturbance-mediated apparent competition and its connection to predator-mediated and pathogen-mediated apparent competition, in combination with anthropogenic disruption to species contact rates, to influence species probability of persistence;

4) Engagement with northern First Nations and Métis communities and the monitoring of changes in northern boreal caribou range; and,

5) Solutions to assisting with conservation of at-risk species, with particular attention to northern caribou populations in sensitive environments (including but not limited to boreal caribou, e.g., Eastern Migratory, Barren-Ground, and Peary Caribou are also of concern).

This is a full-time, expected 24-month position based at the University of Saskatchewan, with travel required to engage with ECCC personnel (e.g., Dr. Cheryl Johnson) in Ottawa. The position provides the opportunity for the selected candidate to work in both academic and government realms, while fostering research connections with northern communities. The ideal candidate should have a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline (e.g. ecology, wildlife biology, environmental science) and an excellent understanding of northern ungulate ecology, with preference to candidates already publishing on issues related to the ecology of Rangifer spp. The candidate should possess aptitude and enthusiasm for applied quantitative ecology, critical thinking, effective collaboration and experience with community-based research, and a competitive publication record. Proficiency with R, ArcGIS, and knowledge about resource selection functions, population dynamics modelling, habitat and climate-change forecasting, and structural equation models are assets. Other opportunities for CV enhancement are available to the right candidate, including chances to work with lab mates on collaborations involving individual-based modelling of population ecology using other systems in the McLoughlin lab (e.g., the Sable Island horse system).


1) A salary of $83,000 CAD per year including pay in lieu of benefits ($79,000CAD salary plus $4,000 in benefits);

2) A conference and professional development fund of $5,000 per year;

3) A computing equipment start-up fund of $3,000; and

4) All travel costs directly related to lab-research questions pursued by the candidate.

Note: this position will be administered under a collective agreement, including provisions for cost-of-living increases, e.g., a 3% raise effective November 2024 (see the Collective Agreement between the University of Saskatchewan the Public Service Alliance of Canada, Local 40004, available at

Diversity and Inclusion:

The impact of leaves (e.g. parental leave, extended leaves due to illness, etc.) will be carefully considered when reviewing candidates’ eligibility and record of research achievement. Candidates are encouraged to explain in their cover letter how career interruptions may have impacted them. The University of Saskatchewan is committed to employment equity, diversity, and inclusion, and is proud to support career opportunities for Indigenous peoples to reflect the community we serve. We are dedicated to recruiting individuals who will enrich our work and learning environments. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, in accordance with Canadian immigration requirements, Canadian citizens and permanent residents will be given priority. We are committed to providing accommodations to those with a disability or medical necessity. If you require an accommodation to participate in the recruitment process, please notify us and we will work together on the accommodation request. We continue to grow our partnerships with Indigenous communities across the province, nationally, and internationally and value the unique perspective that Indigenous employees provide to strengthen these relationships. Verification of Indigenous Membership/Citizenship at the University of Saskatchewan is led and determined by our Indigenous Truth policy and Standing Committee in accordance with the processes developed to enact the policy. Successful candidates that assert Indigenous membership/citizenship will be asked to complete the verification process of Indigenous membership/citizenship with documentation. The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to the First Nations and Métis ancestors of this place and reaffirm our relationship with one another. Together, we are uplifting Indigenization to a place of prominence at the University of Saskatchewan.

Relevant references:

Environment Canada. 2011. Scientific Assessment to Inform the Identification of Critical Habitat for Woodland Caribou (Rangifer tarandus caribou), Boreal Population, in Canada:2011 Update. Page 102 pp. plus appendices. Ottawa, Ontario.

Johnson, C.A., G.D. Sutherland, E. Neave, M. Leblond, P. Kirby, C. Superbie, P.D McLoughlin. 2020. Science to inform policy: Linking population dynamics to habitat for a threatened species in Canada. Journal of Applied Ecology 57: 1314–1327.

Hart, S.J., J. Henkelman, P.D. McLoughlin, S.E. Nielsen, A. Truchon-Savard, and J.F. Johnstone. 2019. Examining forest resilience to changing fire frequency in a fire‐prone region of boreal forest. Global Change Biology 25: 869–884.

Labadie G., P.D. McLoughlin, M. Hebblewhite, and D. Fortin. 2021. Insect-mediated apparent competition between mammals in a boreal food web. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 118: e2022892118.

Muhly, T.B., C.A. Johnson, M. Hebblewhite, E.W. Neilson, D. Fortin, J.M. Fryxell, A.D.M. Latham, M.C. Latham, P.D. McLoughlin, E. Merrill, P.C. Paquet, B.R. Patterson, F. Schmiegelow, F. Scurrah, and M. Musiani. 2019. Functional response of wolves to human development across boreal North America. Ecology and Evolution 18: 10801–10815.

Neufeld, B.T., C. Superbie, R.J. Greuel, T. Perry, P.A. Tomchuk, D. Fortin, and P.D. McLoughlin. 2021. Disturbance-mediated apparent competition decouples in a northern boreal caribou range. Journal of Wildlife Management 85: 254–270.

Serrouya, R., M. Dickie, C. Lamb, H. van Oort, A.P. Kelley, C. DeMars, P.D. McLoughlin, N.C. Larter, D. Hervieux, A. Ford, S. Boutin. 2021. Trophic consequences of terrestrial eutrophication for a threatened ungulate. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B 288: 20202811.

Stewart, F.E.C., T. Micheletti et al. 2023. Climate-informed forecasts reveal dramatic local habitat shifts and population uncertainty for northern boreal caribou. Ecological Applications 33: e2816.

Superbie, C., K.M. Stewart, C.E. Regan, J.F. Johnstone, and P.D. McLoughlin. 2022. Northern boreal caribou conservation should focus on anthropogenic disturbance, not disturbance-mediated apparent competition. Biological Conservation 265: 109426.