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  • Optimal management policies for migratory birds under climate change

    Ellen Paul
    • Employer: US Geological Survey
      Location: Laurel MD
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 03/19/2021
      Open Until Filled: No

    Position Title: Postdoctoral Research Associate Salary: GS-12 salary (approx. $87,000/year) with benefits Location: Eastern Ecological Science Center at the Patuxent Research Refuge, Laurel, MD Performance Period: 13 months, renewable up to 4 years conditional on funding Application Deadline: March 19, 2021 or until a suitable candidate is found Position Summary: USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center at the Patuxent Research Refuge (formerly, the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center) seeks a Postdoctoral Research Associate with interests in population modeling, decision analysis, dynamic optimization, and migratory bird management. Incumbent will develop and evaluate novel approaches for management decision making for dynamic systems, with a focus on waterfowl harvest management. Fish and wildlife systems are undergoing rapid, uncertain, but inevitable changes due to global climate change. As a result, the best available science and empirical observations of the past may represent conditions that have little relevance to future conditions. However, under the current U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adaptive harvest management decision framework for North American waterfowl there is an assumption of system stationarity, i.e., that the underlying population dynamics, while possibly stochastic, are nevertheless time-invariant. Waterfowl are susceptible to climate change through their dependence on coastal and inland wetlands, and new demographic models indicate complex, nonlinear relationships between climate and density in waterfowl populations. We seek to determine the properties of optimal time-dependent adaptive resource management policies when natural systems are undergoing non-stationary system change. The proposed work will have both targeted effects on waterfowl harvest management in North America and broad theoretical implications in considering non-stationarity in natural resource management. This work will bring visibility and a theoretical framework to dynamic decisions made in the face of climate change, a topic that is deeply relevant to present environmental management but that is largely lacking from current applications in natural resource conservation. Incumbent will work closely with a team of quantitative ecologists with USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center and the USFWS Division of Migratory Bird Management Branch of Assessment and Decision Support. They will also participate in a Powell Center Working Group focused broadly on developing guidance for time-dependent natural resource management in the face of system change.


    Minimum Requirements: 1. Ph.D. in biology (wildlife), ecology, or related field, with a focus on quantitative methods in population ecology. 2. Applicant must have received PhD within the last 5 years. 3. Applicant must be a US citizen. 4. Proficiency with computing platforms, including R and MATLAB. 5. Familiarity with concepts of decision analysis and wildlife population modeling. Desired Abilities: Competitive candidates will have a strong background in decision analysis and population modeling. Strong programming skills are required, including proficiency with R or similar platforms for data manipulation and quantitative modeling, and proficiency with MATLAB or similar platforms for dynamic optimization. The successful candidate will have excellent written and personal communication skills and demonstrated success in working closely with management agencies on applied questions in wildlife conservation. Application: Applicants should email: (1) a letter describing your background and interests – the letter should address specifically how the applicant meets both the minimum requirements and the desired abilities, (2) curriculum vitae, and (3) the names and contact information for 3 references to Dr. Michael Runge (mrunge@usgs.gov) and Dr. Anna Tucker (amtucker@usgs.gov). Please include “System change postdoc” in the subject line. For further information, contact: Michael Runge (mrunge@usgs.gov) USGS Eastern Ecological Science Center at the Patuxent Research Refuge 12100 Beech Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708

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