We are currently seeking applicants for an M.S. assistantship focused on secretive marsh bird ecology and management. Secretive marsh birds are emergent-wetland specialists and are notoriously difficult to detect because of their scarcity, reluctance to vocalize, and discreet behavior. The standardized North American marsh bird protocol is the main method for assessing their status and distribution, however obtaining sufficient detections may be logistically and financially prohibitive. Autonomous recording units (ARUs) are increasingly used to survey elusive species, and may be a cost-effective way to survey for secretive marsh birds. The project will involve monitoring the breeding population of secretive marsh birds in western Tennessee wetlands. The selected student will work in collaboration with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) partners to: 1) evaluate vegetation, wetland, and landscape characteristics influencing occupancy of breeding secretive marsh birds, 2) determine effects of wetland management practices in natural and restored wetlands on occupancy, and 3) evaluate the efficacy of ARUs for surveying and monitoring secretive marsh birds. Specific fieldwork will include conducting call-back surveys for secretive marsh birds, measuring vegetation conditions, and maintaining ARUs. Fieldwork will take place in western Tennessee during spring and early summer.
The successful applicant will receive a $17,000 per year stipend and tuition and fee waiver. The student will be required to serve as a T.A. for fall and spring semesters both years. The student will be advised by Drs. Bradley Cohen and Allison Keever and expected to start fall semester 2021.
B.S. degree in wildlife biology, management, ecology, or related disciplines, and an undergraduate GPA > 3.3. Due to COVID-related restrictions, no GRE score is necessary. Valid driver’s license required. Desired qualifications included strong quantitative skills, field experience with waterbirds or point count surveys, bird call identification, and excellent written and verbal communication skills. Experience in R is strongly preferred.
Interested applicants should submit the following documents as a single PDF (labeled as Lastname_MSApplictaion.pdf) to Dr. Bradley Cohen (email@example.com) and Dr. Allison Keever (firstname.lastname@example.org) by the May 31st deadline: (1) 2-page maximum cover letter summarizing your interest in the position, qualifications, and experience as well as research and career aspirations, (2) curriculum vitae, (3) copies of unofficial academic transcripts, and (4) names and contact information for 3 professional references. Applicant review will begin immediately. Include “Marsh bird MS position” in the email subject line. The Cohen Lab is committed to increasing the representation of traditionally excluded groups and fostering a diverse and inclusive research lab. Students from underrepresented groups in wildlife fields are strongly encouraged to apply. Final candidates will be contacted for interviews in early June with candidate selection offering by mid-June.