Wednesday, July 20, 2011

PhD/Postdoc positions: UW-Madison

PhD/Postdoc positions: UW-Madison:
2 Postdoc and 1 PHD position available to study the effects of extreme climate events on avian demographics: the role of habitat refugia in mitigating climate change

Overview: Climate change poses severe threats to biodiversity, and conservationists have to adapt their management decisions to a climate. The challenge is that the biological response to future climate change is uncertain. Climate change will entail a general warming, but even more importantly may increase the frequency of extreme climate events (such as multiyear droughts) and extreme weather events (such as shorter droughts, heatwaves, and cold snaps).

Our NASA funded study has two major goals. The first is a basic science question: we seek to predict the effects of extreme climate and weather events, including droughts, heat waves, and cold snaps during the breeding season, on bird demographics, focusing especially on waterfowl and forest birds. As part of this question we will test four alternative hypotheses to explain observed abundance declines: (1) the lower recruitment hypothesis, (2) the adult mortality hypothesis, (3) the long-distance dispersal hypothesis, and (4) the refugia hypothesis.

Our second goal is an applied research question: we seek to quantify the role of National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests as refugia for waterfowl and forest birds respectively during extreme events, and to identify management actions to enhance this function.

The project is a collaboration between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (La Crosse, Wisconsin, P. Heglund), United States Geological Survey (La Crosse, Wisconsin, W. Thogmartin), U.S. Forest Service (Ft. Collins, Colorado, C. Flather), University of Wisconsin-Madison (A. Pidgeon, V. Radeloff, and S. Vavrus), University of Nevada, Reno (T. Albright), and Stony Brook University (Stony Brook, New York, R. Akcakaya). At this point, we are filling three positions that will all be based in Madison, Wisconsin. A fourth position for a PhD student with R. Akcakaya focusing on population modeling will be filled in 2012.

Positions: Three positions (one PhD and 2 Post-doc positions) will be based in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology. We are offering each as a fully funded 3-year position, with the potential for a fourth year depending on performance and project objectives. In terms of the different work tasks, we envision the following team composition:

- One person (either PhD or post-doc) will focus on changes in forest bird populations in response to extreme climate events under the supervision of A. Pidgeon.

- One person (either PhD or post-doc) will focus on changes in waterfowl populations in response to extreme climate events, and will be under the joint supervision of A. Pidgeon and V. Radeloff.

- One position (either PhD or post-doc) will assess and predict extreme events, and will work under the supervision of V. Radeloff and S. Vavrus.

PhD students would be appointed as 12-month research assistants, with an annual salary of $20,400, tuition remission, and full benefits including health insurance. Postdocs would be appointed as 12-month research associates, salary is competitive and commensurate with experience, and full benefits including health insurance is included.

Start date for all positions is flexible, funding is in hand, and an early start date is preferred. The positions are open to both U.S. citizen, and non-residents.

Qualifications: We are especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community.

For applicants at the PhD level, a MS degree in ecology, wildlife ecology, atmospheric science, geography, environmental science, or related disciplines is required. Applicants with a BS degree will only be considered if substantial relevant experience can be shown. A solid working knowledge of remote sensing, GIS, and statistics is required.

For applicants at the postdoctoral level, we expect a completed Ph.D. in an appropriate field (see list in previous paragraph) prior to appointment. Candidates should have a strong background in spatial/landscape ecology; intimate working knowledge of GIS; and strong quantitative skills. For the person filling the position focusing on extreme events, experience in working with climate data is desirable.

For all three positions, we seek candidates who work well in a collaborative setting and have excellent communication and writing skills. Good English writing and verbal communication skills, and a demonstrated ability as a team member, are essential.

To apply: Candidates should send a cover letter summarizing their research interests, a CV that spells out skills, and the contact information for three references. Please indicate in your cover letter explicitly which topical area you are interested in, and at which level (PhD or postdoc) you are applying.

Review of applicants will begin immediately; position will remain open until suitable candidates are found. All applications received on or before August 1st 2011 are guaranteed consideration. Application packages (e-mailed as a single PDF file) should be sent to and

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