Enhancing Climbing Recreation and Conservation in Vertical Environments Shared by Humans and Bats Through Input from Climbers Visiting National Parks: Tennessee

University of Tennessee Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
Knoxville, TN
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
Cliffs, arches, talus slopes and other geologic formations contain a wealth of natural, cultural, and paleontological resources and provide valuable opportunities for recreation, exploration, education, and research. Many of these formations are iconic features that are managed by the National Park Service to preserve these resources and provide for enjoyment by the public and future generations. The vertical nature of these environments creates technical challenges for studying and managing natural resources, such as bats, that use these habitats for roosting. Climbers, individuals with technical skills for navigating these virtual environments, are the primary recreational group directly using these environments and provide important sources of revenue and contribute to the economy through tourism and travel-related commerce. Recently, biologists have started working with climbers to identify and document bats along climbing routes and engage this user group in management and conservation of cliff habitats for bats. To better understand climber recreational behavior and their attitudes towards bats, their conservation, and the vertical environments they inhabit, we are looking for an outstanding student to pursue a MS project surveying climbers in important climbing US National Park Service (NPS) managed areas. The successful applicant will 1) develop a questionnaire survey instrument in collaboration with stakeholders, 2) attain all necessary permitting through UT (i.e. IRB) and NPS (i.e. OMB and individual park permits), 3) implement the survey at NPS managed climbing areas (exact sites to be determined with stakeholders), 4) analyze data and produce a MS thesis that contains at least two publishable chapters, and 5) prepare and present presentations and reports to stakeholders in the bat conservation, NPS, and the climbing community.
Academic requirements include a BS in wildlife, ecology, or related field, with a GPA of at least 3.25 and GRE scores of 300 or greater. Experience with human dimensions research (i.e. surveys and interviews) is preferred. The candidate should be an active climber or have deep knowledge of the climbing community. The candidate must have an excellent work ethic, be well organized, and be able to work independently to navigate the entire research process including survey development, permitting, logistics, data analysis, and scientific writing.
Contact Person
Adam Willcox
Contact eMail
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