The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture and the Coastal Research and Extension Center at Mississippi State University are seeking a highly qualified and motivated M.Sc. to join our research team to study secretive marsh birds on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi as part of a multi-season, multi-year project. The broader project was established in response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill to assess, determine, and evaluate the abundance, distribution, and survivorship of secretive tidal marsh birds the Mississippi coast. The graduate student will aid in data collection for the broader project, in addition to developing a thesis project supporting select aspects of the larger study. Possible areas of research include survival and demographics of Seaside Sparrows and Clapper Rails and distribution and abundance of breeding marsh bird species.
Duties will include, but not be limited to: conducting marsh bird point-transect surveys, capture and banding of Clapper Rails and Seaside Sparrows; nest monitoring for these two species; sampling vegetation; data entry and management; and assisting the project manager with maintaining field equipment. The graduate student will be part of a research team monitoring secretive marsh birds in non-breeding and breeding seasons. They will be expected to communicate with and coordinate seasonal efforts with the project manager and when needed, assist as crew leader to ensure field sampling and data management protocols are meeting project standards. Some activities will be strenuous with conditions in salt marshes being hot, humid, and involving biting insects. All aspects of field work will require walking in the marsh through potentially thick mud and dense vegetation.
Minimum qualifications: B.S. with a minimum 3.0 GPA in wildlife, biology, zoology, ecology, or closely related field and relevant experience with bird sampling and demonstrated interest in wildlife research. Prefer a candidate with previous experience in at least one of the following areas: conducting bird point counts and/or banding of secretive marsh birds, nest searching and monitoring, boat operation and maintenance, towing trailers, and data analysis. Demonstrated responsibility conducting unsupervised field work, effective leadership of field technicians, a positive attitude and strong work ethic are also characteristics of a the type of graduate student that would sit well in our lab.