A M.S.-level Graduate Research Assistantship is available at Southern Illinois University (SIU) starting April 2022 to assess the movement patterns of mesopredators in association with supplemental human foods and invasive predators in an island ecosystem. The field research (April/May – August) will take place in Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Key Largo, Florida, in cooperation with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (Dr. Mike Cove), the USFWS (Refuge Manager Jeremy Dixon), and with SIU (Dr. Brent Pease). During the academic year (August – May), the student will be based at SIU in Carbondale. Primary field work will include tracking GPS-tagged mesopredators in Key Largo along an urban-wild gradient and overlapping with invasive Burmese pythons. The graduate student will estimate home range and quantify movement behaviors of raccoons and Virginia opossums to investigate the ecosystem role of mesopredators as seed dispersers and identify potential interactions of study animals with known locations of multiple endangered species. The student will work to analyze GPS movement data in a continuous time movement modeling framework with the potential to include additional analyses with camera trap data through integrated modeling frameworks. Opportunities may exist for the student to develop independent research questions and projects including but not limited to animal movement, species co-occurrence, community dynamics, stable isotopes, diet analysis, and/or ecosystem services. The successful applicant is expected to effectively communicate findings to all partners and participate in other on-going monitoring efforts in Key Largo. Housing will be provided for fieldwork in the Keys. The student will earn a M.S. in Forestry with emphasis in Wildlife Ecology at Southern Illinois University and will be co-advised by Drs. Mike Cove and Brent Pease.
The successful applicant will have (1) obtained B.S. degree in wildlife, ecology, biology, forestry, zoology, or related fields; (2) knowledge of mesopredator ecology; (3) exceptional quantitative skills and familiarity with radiotracking and movement models; (4) knowledge of program R and spatial software (e.g., QGIS, ArcGIS); (5) a driver's license and ability to conduct independent field work in difficult conditions (e.g., mosquitoes, biting flies, and heat)); and (6) strong oral and written communication skills.
To apply please email a single PDF to Dr. Brent Pease (firstname.lastname@example.org) that includes:
1. A cover letter that describes past experiences and career goals
2. Curriculum Vitae (with GPA and GRE scores included)
3. Undergraduate transcripts (unofficial is acceptable)
4. Contact information for 3 references
The email subject should be “MS – Florida Keys Mesopredators”. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For full consideration, applications must be received by Feb 25, 2022.