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  • Ph.D. Graduate Research Assistantship: Fall and Winter Ecology of Mallards in Southeast Kansas

    Mark Vrtiska
    • Employer: University of Nebraska
      Location: Lincoln, NE and southeastern KS
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: No value
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

    The School of Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), in cooperation with the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) and Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center (NPWRC), is seeking applicants to begin a graduate program in August 2022. The successful applicant will pursue a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Sciences and specialize in Ecology at UNL. The student will be co-advised by Dr. Mark Vrtiska (UNL) and Dr. Jay VonBank (NPWRC), with support by Tom Bidrowski (KDWP).

    Position Description:  The overall objective of this project is to examine mallard migration and wintering ecology in Southeast Kansas with focus on factors influencing diel and seasonal habitat use and selection, behavioral patterns and energy expenditure, determining stock origins, and understanding local and regional movements using advanced tracking devices. The mallard is one of the most important duck species to waterfowl hunters in Kansas, comprising >50% of all duck harvest. Southeast Kansas is a particularly important area for mallard harvest, accounting for 23% of mallard harvest in the state. However, few data exist regarding mallard migration and wintering ecology in southeastern Kansas. Additionally, knowledge of where mallards using southeast Kansas breed would aid in more targeted conservation efforts on breeding areas for mallards using that region. Advances in tracking technologies (e.g., GPS transmitters) are allowing researchers to uncover large-scale waterfowl movements during periods of expected high site fidelity. Understanding how mallards use and behave in southeast Kansas and where they originate will assist managers with developing targeted strategies for successful management in both habitat management and regulatory frameworks at State and Flyway scales.

    The candidate will be expected to lead data collection and analysis efforts while completing their degree, write scientific reports and peer-reviewed manuscripts, and present study results at scientific and other meetings, culminating in an approved dissertation.

    Qualification Requirements:  Applicants should (1) be able to perform moderate physical tasks, (2) show evidence of excellent written and oral communication abilities, (3) have knowledge of quantitative methods in ecological research (transcripts should show good performance in quantitative courses), (4) B.S. degree, (5) have a GPA of at least 3.25, and (6) possess valid driver’s license and clean driving record. Applicants may submit copies of unofficial GRE scores to support their application if they desire, but are not required. International applications that meet requirements are encouraged; such applicants for whom English is not the primary language must have the following scores on the TOEFL exam (550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, 79 web-based).  Other entrance requirements may be found at http://snr.unl.edu/gradstudent/entrancerequirements.asp.

    Preferred experience:  Preference will be given to applicants with experience in waterfowl, migratory bird, and/or other wildlife research and other data collection methodology, strong quantitative background (e.g., familiarity with program R, Bayesian methods, spatial analyses, Program Mark), strong communication skills to supervise technicians, develop private land manager and stakeholder relationships, and wildlife capture, handling, and/or surveys.

    Salary/Benefits: Annual stipend: $28,000. Research assistantship includes substantial benefits including health insurance and full tuition waiver. Funding for this project includes research funds, travel funds, publication costs, and 4 years of stipend support, pending satisfactory progress of the student. Housing will be provided during field work in southeastern Kansas.

    Application:  Position will be filled when suitable applicant is identified. Review of applications will begin immediately. To apply, please mail or email a letter of interest, CV or resume, unofficial copies of transcripts and unofficial GRE scores (if completed), or ranges provided for preliminary scores), and contact information for at least 3 references to: Dr. Mark Vrtiska, School of Natural Resources, 524 Hardin Hall, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE 68583-0974; e-mail applications (preferred): mvrtiska3@unl.edu. The selected applicant will be asked to officially apply to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s graduate program.


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