One M.S. Graduate Research Assistantship is secured to evaluate breeding avian use of cover crop fields. Cover crops are generally planted after normal agricultural harvest (i.e., fall) as a means of improving soil health and water quality and to provide wildlife habitat. The project will involve field investigations of bird use of cover cropped fields in southeastern Iowa, where cover crops and breeding birds are suitably abundant to inform possible responses and management strategies for cover crops across the Corn Belt. The incumbent will document and compare use of fields (i.e., via point counts) with cover crops, perennial vegetation (i.e., Conservation Reserve Program lands or other, similar lands not subject to crop production or grazing), and active croplands to evaluate the relative importance of these cover types, with respect to management practices and other characteristics, to avifauna considered as Species of Greatest Conservation Need under Iowa’s State Wildlife Action Plan. The student will be part of a larger project to address various research need related to cover crops for the Natural Resource Conservation Service. The student will be advised by Joshua Stafford (South Dakota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit), and may also assist in a companion project conducted through Iowa State University. Ideally, the student will begin during the Fall 2018 semester and begin field work in Spring 2019.
M.S. students must have a B.S. in wildlife science, biology, natural resource conservation, or closely related discipline. Ph.D. students should have completed an M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology, Natural Resources, Zoology, or a related field. Individuals with demonstrated field capabilities, including (and especially) the abilities to: identify most species of Midwestern avifauna by sight and sound, design and follow protocols for point-count surveys, conduct nest searches for breeding songbirds in grasslands and cover crops, and operate ATVs and other equipment. Expertise with general avian ecology, GIS, habitat evaluations, and statistics will be valuable. Because the companion project will involve wildlife telemetry, experience with telemetry may also be useful. The ability to work independently and conduct rigorous field work under extreme conditions is necessary. The applicant should possess the ability to work with a diversity of natural resource professionals, including State and Federal agencies. A strong work ethic is required, including the ability to tolerate field work in a challenging environment (e.g., heat, humidity, long work days). Some field work may overlap class work, in which case the student must be able to complete both simultaneously. Stipend includes salary of approx. $19,500/year. A full tuition waiver will also be provided. Note: Start date is flexible, but field work will begin April 2019 and it is preferred the candidate enroll on or before the Spring 2019 semester begins.
To apply, applicants should create a single document containing: 1) a cover letter that includes a description of work experience and career goals; 2) CV/resume, and; 3) the names and contact information of 3 references (phone and e-mail address); copies of transcripts and GRE scores (unofficial are acceptable at this time) are also required. The applicant should have a cumulative undergraduate GPA >3.0 on a 4.0 scale; GPAs of 2.75-3.0 may be considered for probationary acceptance, whereas <2.75 will not be considered. GRE score of 156 Verbal and 151 Quantitative (1,100 combined for the older scoring system) is preferred. Send application to Dr. Joshua Stafford (email@example.com) no later than 24 August 2018. Review of applications will begin immediately. Please contact Dr. Stafford directly with general inquiries about the position.