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  • Master’s position on migratory connectivity and demography of eastern Painted Buntings

    • Employer: Utah State University
      Location: Logan, UT
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 09/21/2018
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    The Rushing Population Ecology Lab at Utah State University is currently looking for a Master’s student to work on an ongoing project focused on the migratory connectivity and demography of southeastern Painted Buntings, an iconic but threatened species of the southeastern United States. Despite their conspicuous habits, the primary threats to southeastern Painted Buntings remain poorly understood. The selected student will work as part of a team of collaborators from Utah State University, the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology seeking to better understand what is driving the declines of this species.

    This is a fully-funded position that is part of a multi-year project focused on the migration routes and winter distribution of this species. For the past two years, collaborators from the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have deployed light-level geolocators on Painted Buntings at 5 field sites in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The selected student will help co-lead the recovery and deployment of geolocators during the summers of 2019 and 2020 and will lead efforts to analyze all tracking data collected as part of this project.  The student may also participate in research questions related to establishing a network of RFID-enabled bird feeders to estimate survival and phenology. Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in ornithology, population ecology, quantitative modeling, and/or movement ecology.

    The student will be based in the Wildland Resources Department at Utah State University, in Logan, UT and is expected to start in the spring of 2019. Summer field work will take place at established study sites in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The successful candidate will be well-organized and self-motivated, with strong written and verbal communication skills. Prior experience with banding small passerines and attachment of light-level geolocators (or similar tags) using the leg harness technique is required. Experience managing avian banding projects, including overseeing field crews, and demonstrated ability to work effectively in the field with minimal supervision is preferred. Quantitative skills, particularly experience analyzing and visualizing data in R, and/or experience with RFID technology are desirable but not required.


    •   Demonstrated interpersonal, written, and verbal communication skills

    •   Demonstrated bird banding experience

    •   Experience with the attachment of light-level geolocators

    •   Strong quantitative and computational skills (e.g., statistics, programming in R) or a demonstrated desire to learn these skills

    •   BA/BS or similar degree

    •   Strong interest in ornithology, migration, and/or conservation


    For more information, please send your application or any questions to clark.rushing@usu.edu. Application materials should include a cover letter addressing your interest in the position and your qualifications, a resume or CV, and contact information for three references.


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