MS Assistantship: Avian biodiversity and cattle grazing: Florida

University of Florida
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
24,000 + tuition and benefits
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
We are seeking applicants for a two-year MSc research assistantship investigating how grazing management influences avian biodiversity in the working rangelands of Florida. Biodiversity in North American rangelands is declining. Grassland birds, for example, have had the greatest proportional loss of any biome-specific bird group. In Florida, rangelands cover approximately one third of the state, primarily in the central region of the peninsula. Florida’s rangelands are climatically unique – relative to the rangelands of western North America, they are temperate to subtropical, humid grasslands and are more similar to the rangelands of South America. Cattle production has been ongoing in Florida since the 1500s and many rangeland producers have been working the land for generations. In the western United States, higher cattle stocking rates have been linked to reductions in avian biodiversity and grazing management that results in structurally homogenous vegetation reduces avian biodiversity. However, little is known about how these different grazing management strategies impact bird biodiversity in the ecologically unique rangelands of Florida. The goal of this project is to determine how different grazing management practices and cattle stocking density influence avian diversity and occurrence in Florida’s rangelands. This study will be conducted across multiple sites in south-central Florida. We will deploy sampling grids of remote cameras and autonomous recording units (ARU) within pastures to record avian species presence. We will use machine learning to aid in identifying species within images captured by remote cameras and within acoustic data captured by ARUs. There will also be other field components associated with this research project. This work will be under the supervision of Dr. Hance Ellington (UF Range Cattle Research and Education Center) and Dr. Marcus Lashley (UF Wildlife Ecology and Conservation Department). The student will split time between the University of Florida main campus (for coursework) and various sites throughout south-central Florida (for fieldwork). While the position is funded, we will support and encourage the successful applicant to compete for internal and external funding.
Most importantly we seek applicants that have: 1) a passion for wildlife ecology, with a particular keenness for birds 2) an interest, commitment, and aptitude for field research in the challenging Florida climate 3) experience or strong interest in GIS, statistical programing in R, and modelling 4) a demonstrated commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion Additionally, we seek an individual that can identify birds by call. A candidate with excellent verbal and written communication skills is preferred. Finally, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in biology, ecology, wildlife, or a related field and must also have a valid driver’s license. The Rangeland Wildlife Ecology lab is committed to increasing the diversity of science and scientists and we strongly encourage applicants from underrepresented groups in STEM to apply. To apply: Please email a single pdf document that contains 1) a cover letter that describes your background, interest in the position, career goals, and any equity considerations you are comfortable sharing, 2) your CV, 3) unofficial transcripts from undergraduate institution (please do not pay for your transcripts), and 4) contact information for three professional references (include at least one academic reference) with the subject line “Avian biodiversity MS assistantship”. Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until a suitable candidate is identified or until closing date.
Contact Person
Hance Ellington
Contact eMail
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