Postdoctoral fellowship: Predicting the effects of climate change on the epidemiology of winter ticks in moose

Climate change is having an impact on geographical distribution of parasites and parasite load, particularly in species where part of the parasite’s life cycle takes place in the environment. In the winter tick (Dermacentor albipictus), weather conditions in spring and autumn are critical for larval survival. Integrating climatic conditions in interaction with host dynamics is an essential step towards understanding and predicting the spatiotemporal dynamics of D. albipictus epizootics in moose (Alces alces).

Project

The successful candidate will join the Tick-Orignal-Climate Research Partnership team (https://www.albipictus.com/), a collaborative, interdisciplinary project aimed at understanding and predicting the dynamics of interactions between winter ticks and moose populations in eastern Canada as a function of current and anticipated climatic conditions.

He/she will be responsible for the final component of this project, integrating the data collected over the last 4 years to develop a spatially explicit epidemiological model of D. albipictus and moose population dynamics capable of simulating the impact of climate change on the parasite’s geographical distribution, as well as the frequency and severity of tick infestations.

SamPy (https://github.com/sampy-project), a new agent-based epidemiological modeling platform running in the Python environment, will serve as the basis for model development. SamPy includes complex movement modules for ungulates and interactions between agents (hosts) and ticks on heterogeneous landscapes. The role of the candidate will be to adapt existing modules in SamPy to simulate the spatiotemporal dynamics of moose infestation by D. albipictus in a context of climate change.

Qualifications

- PhD in Ecology, Epidemiology, Biostatistics or another relevant field

- Programming experience in Python

- Evidence of high-quality publications as first author in peer-reviewed literature

- Ability to work productively in a team

The team

The postdoctoral fellow will work under the supervision of Patrick Leighton (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UdeM; www.patrickleighton.com) with the support of his epidemiological modeling team, including François Viard who developed and supports the use of the SamPy platform, and in close collaboration with the Tick-Orignal-Climate Partnership team including researchers Jean-Pierre Tremblay and Steeve Côté (Université Laval), and Christian Dussault (MELCCFP).

Position location and duration

The position will be located at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Université de Montréal (Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada), with flexible working conditions based on a hybrid working model. The position, funded for one year with possibility of extension, will start as soon as the candidate is available, ideally by April 2024.

Salary

Approx. $50 000 CAN per year, depending on qualifications.

How to apply

Please send a letter of interest and your CV to patrick.a.leighton@umontreal.ca

Deadline to apply: February 1st, 2024.

Université de Montréal is committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in employment.