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  • PhD Fellowship on the Demography, Movement, and Population Dynamics of White Pelicans on the Great Salt Lake

    • Employer: Utah State University
      Location: Logan, UT
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 10/30/2018
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    The Rushing Lab at Utah State University is currently seeking highly qualified applicants for the Fritz Knopf Doctoral Fellowship in Avian Conservation. The selected student will work as part of a team of collaborators from Utah State University, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Westminster College, Salt Lake City Airport, and the Tracy Aviary seeking to better understand the demography and movement of American White Pelicans in the Great Salt Lake region. More information about the project can be found at https://wildlife.utah.gov/pelican_webmap/#.


    Of particular interest to the team is understanding the population dynamics of pelicans breeding on Gunnison Island in the Great Salt Lake and the role that this colony plays in the regional viability of this species. The Gunnison colony has a long history of research, including work by Fritz Knopf early in his career. Long-term data on this colony include band recoveries (1940’s-present), wing-tag re-sights (2011-present), colony nest counts (1963-present), and GPS telemetry (2015-present). Additional data from other colonies in Utah and Idaho may also be available for this project. The selected student will develop their own research questions focused on these themes. Possible questions of interest to the team include: 1) Estimation of demographic rates of the Gunnison colony; 2) the role of environmental and demographic processes in determining the dynamics of the Gunnison colony; 3) the role of non-breeding conditions in shaping the breeding dynamics of the colony; and 4) the role that the Gunnison colony plays in regional viability of the species. Results from this project are expected provide critical information about the primary threats to pelican colonies and to provide justification for future monitoring and management needs. The student will be expected to communicate these results to the scientific and management communities to ensure results are used to further conservation and management and honor the legacy of Dr. Knopf. 


    The selected student will be based in the Wildland Resources Department at Utah State University in Logan, UT. The ideal start is the spring semester of 2019. The fellowship includes an annual salary of $25,000 for up to four years, tuition and fees, student health insurance, and travel funds.


    Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in ornithology, as well as population ecology, quantitative modeling, and/or movement ecology. The successful candidate will be well-organized and self-motivated, with strong written and verbal communication skills. Strong quantitative skills, particularly demonstrated experience with demographic and population modeling, are required. Experience with hierarchical modeling, Bayesian methods, and integrated population models is preferred. Some fieldwork on Gunnison Island will be required so prior experience with monitoring and banding colonial waterbirds is preferred but not required.



    •    MS in population ecology, wildlife ecology, or related field OR equivalent experience

    •    Demonstrated interest in ornithology, migration, and/or avian conservation

    •    Demonstrated written and verbal communication skills

    •    Strong quantitative and computational skills (e.g., statistics, programming in R)

    •    Experience developing and implementing demographic monitoring studies of colonial waterbirds or other avian species


    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 CV, GRE scores, and contact information for three references.  Consideration of interested applicants will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. Utah State University is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

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