Project Description: The Canadian Prairie region is one of the most intensively farmed landscapes but also one of the most ecologically important, with wetlands and grasslands providing essential habitat for a diversity of species. Agricultural practices often can negatively affect biodiversity through pesticides and habitat loss with notable declines in farmland birds. Many songbirds, and other vocal species such as amphibians, are relatively easy to survey non-invasively and can be captured and sampled non-destructively to assess changes in the quantity and quality of habitats at larger spatial scales than are most insects. In this collaborative project with different government and industry stakeholders, the student will focus on birds and other sentinel vertebrates as indicators of ecosystem health on working farms in the Prairie region to evaluate the effect of different farming practices (experimental manipulations) and landscape features on biodiversity. Additional research projects or scope for a PhD may include working with remotely sensed data and citizen science data to examine avian diversity and abundance in relation to different types and configurations of agriculture at landscape scales, or sampling specific indicator bird species to assess their diversity in diet composition and ability to provide ecosystem services such as pest control.
Eligibility: The student should have a strong ecology and quantitative background and interest in birds and field work. Min GPA of 80% or better. Knowledge of bird calls, bird trapping, GIS and/or agricultural cropping systems in the Canadian Prairies is an asset. Start date is flexible but ideally January 1, 2019.
Location: Dept of Biology or School of Environment and Sustainability at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Student stipend: MSc $18,500 or PhD 21,500/year minimum with opportunity to teach or earn additional scholarships
Apply: Please send your CV, unofficial transcript and cover letter stating your interest and fit to the project to Christy.firstname.lastname@example.org