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  • Movement Ecologist (Audubon/Birds Canada)

    • Employer: National Audubon Society or Birds Canada (flexible)
      Location: Remote
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 01/06/2020
      Open Until Filled: Yes


    Audubon and Birds Canada are committed to the protection birds and the places they need throughout their full annual cycle. The science of avian migration serves as the foundation of this vision: it not only tells us where we should invest our limited time, resources and energies, but it also communicates the story of migration to engage more people in conservation action.

    Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action. By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization brings the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 23 state offices, 43 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 46 states, and 700 staff across the country. Audubon is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

    Birds Canada’s mission is to conserve wild birds of Canada through sound science, on-the-ground actions, innovative partnerships, public engagement and science-based advocacy. Bird Studies Canada, established in 1960 as Long Point Bird Observatory, is a national charity built on the contributions of 60,000 supporters, citizen, and professional scientists. Using data from its volunteer monitoring programs and targeted research, its scientists identify significant population changes and direct conservation planning. BSC has nearly 50 permanent staff at 6 offices across the country.

    As part of BirdLife International, Audubon and Birds Canada join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level. 


    Position Summary

    The National Audubon Society, working at the nexus of science, communication, and policy, is building a Migratory Bird Initiative that translates full annual cycle migration science into compelling visual narratives and resources that drive policy and inspire our network to conservation action. Birds Canada conducts a wide variety of research, monitoring, outreach and conservation projects focused on migration and movement ecology.  At the forefront of this work is the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, a collaborative research network that uses coordinated automated radio telemetry arrays to study movements of migratory animals. Data from Motus can help identify priority habitats, spaces, and threats to vulnerable species, and engage new audiences in bird conservation.

    The National Audubon Society and Birds Canada are partnering to synthesize animal movement data from Motus and other tracking technologies to reveal seasonal movements, behaviors, and migration patterns across the Western Hemisphere and focus scientific results to reveal actionable strategic conservation priorities. The Movement Ecologist will work closely with the Migratory Bird Initiative and Conservation Science teams of the National Audubon Society and the Migration Ecology and Data Science and Technology teams at Birds Canada to promote effective conservation outcomes through movement and migration ecology research, with a focus on various tracking data sources, particularly data from the Motus Wildlife Tracking System. S/he will lead efforts to model migratory bird movement at hemispheric scales; build partnerships with academic, agency and conservation organization scientists studying bird migration and movement ecology; and provide outputs to support the missions and projects of the Audubon and Birds Canada.


    Primary responsibilities will include:

    • Develop and apply advanced Bayesian, Markovian, frequentist, and/or machine-learning approaches to quantitative analyses of automated telemetry (Motus), geolocator, GPS, and other tracking data;
    • Develop analyses to link movement to habitat use, accounting for spatial error and autocorrelation;
    • Examine synergies between technology types, opportunities and methods for combining tracking information into movement models, conservation decision-support tools, and/or collaborate on those fronts where appropriate;
    • Integrate tracking and threat data to identify key areas for conservation;
    • Automate data extractions and processes for vetting of data;
    • Develop tools to extract key summary statistics for all available species from Motus and other tracking data, such as: flight speeds, departure/arrival times, activity patterns, spatial organization (habitat use), stopover durations by latitude/location, migration routes/pathways, and weather/climate variables;
    • Identify opportunities to fill key knowledge gaps for Audubon and Birds Canada priority species, habitats, flyways based on migratory tracking information;
    • Collaborate with diverse group of NAS and Birds Canada staff and international migratory bird scientists and institutions to synthesize and analyze movement data; Co-supervise, or collaborate with undergrads, grad students, postdocs on projects that fulfill the above;
    • Identify opportunities and collaborate or lead on funding proposals and peer-reviewed publications;, public visualization and R-based tool kits to promote use and reuse of data by researchers and decision makers;
    • Travel up to 4 times per year to Audubon or Birds Canada offices, and/or attend additional meetings or conferences.


    Qualifications and Experience:


    • Ph.D. in biology, ecology, spatial ecology, conservation-related field or computer science with an interest in biology required; 2-3 years of experience preferred;
    • Demonstrated ability to clearly frame research questions, design studies, and implement analyses;
    • Proven ability to design, manage and analyse large databases;
    • Proficiency in quantitative analysis and modelling of animal movement, including generalized linear models, hierarchical models in frequentist and Bayesian frameworks, capture-recapture methods, and state-space models;
    • Demonstrated expertise with a wide range of computer software, including R, and relational databases (e.g. Access and SQL databases);
    • Experience with advanced programming skills (e.g., developing R packages, Java, C++).
    • Proficiency in GIS, particularly with ArcGIS products;
    • Field research experience with different types of animal tracking technologies and data, including  automated radio telemetry (Motus), strongly desired;
    • Working knowledge and broad understanding of migration ecology and related conservation issues; and
    • High level of organization, initiative, interpersonal and oral and written communication skills.



    • Experience with remote sensing products;
    • Experience with cloud computing and processing big data;
    • Familiarity with threats to migratory birds;
    • Proven ability to produce high-quality scientific papers or reports;
    • Demonstrated ability and strong interest in collaborating with other scientists and stakeholders; and
    • A self-starter, one who can think creatively about connections between birds, places, and people.

    Scope: 2 years, with the potential for renewal.


    To apply:

    United States Applicants:

    Interested candidates should apply through the National Audubon Society's Job portal (https://careers-audubon.icims.com/jobs/4245/movement-ecologist/job). To be considered for the position, please submit a cover letter and curriculum vitae with your application.

    Questions about the position should be directed to Dr. Jill Deppe (jdeppe@audubon.org).


    Canadian Applicants:

    Applicants should send cover letter and curriculum vitae to Stuart Mackenzie (smackenzie@birdscanada.org).

    Questions about the position should be directed to Mr. Mackenzie.






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