Ph.D. position in bird migration forecasting and validation: Colorado

Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado
Job Category
Graduate Assistantships
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
Project: The lower atmosphere is a heterogeneous, dynamic habitat that is occupied by a host of organisms such as birds, bats and insects. The scope, scale, and vastness of this habitat requires a revision of our understanding of the ecology of airspace, a new frontier known as aeroecology. Yet as our recognition of airspace as a habitat grows, so must the tools to quantify, characterize, and predict the movement of organisms through these spaces. Ecological forecasting of bird movements at relevant spatial and temporal scales provides a novel, data-intensive pathway toward real-time dynamic conservation action. The detection of in-flight migratory birds poses a unique set of challenges, particularly because the vast majority of North American species migrate at night. NEXRAD weather surveillance radar is one of only a few sensors that can monitor these nocturnal movements. Moreover, it is the only sensor platform with the ability to quantify these massive movements across expansive scales. Yet it is only through the integration with environmental and geospatial products that these data can be fully realized — NASA remote sensing products fill this need. The GRA, alongside PI Horton will work to integrate NEXRAD weather radar data, NASA remote sensing data, including MODIS/Terra+Aqua land cover and land surface phenology, VIIRS Day/Night band data, and atmospheric measures to forecast nightly avian migration at the scale of the contiguous United States. Duties will include large scale remote-sensing data processing, statistical modeling, data visualization, as well as working with the CSU Aeroecology team to operate and deploy a portable radar for model validation in northern Colorado. The student will work closely with BirdCast ( team members. Position: Ph.D. graduate research assistant. This is a three-year funded research assistantship, including summer salary and full tuition waiver. The student will be supported by teaching assistantships or other research assistantships beyond these three years.
The candidate is expected to have completed a master’s degree in a related field (Biology, Ecology, Wildlife Ecology, Remote Sensing, Computer Science, or Statistics) prior to starting the position in August 2021. The student should have extensive experience in R coding, geospatial analysis, statistical model (e.g., niche modeling), avian ecology, and a record in disseminating research findings, including presentations and peer-reviewed publications. To Apply: Please send your application to Kyle Horton ( containing a Cover Letter, CV, and contact information of three references. Within your cover letter, please reflect on how your experiences lend to this project, particularly in quantitative modeling, why you are interested in this project, and how this degree helps fulfill your career aspirations. Send your materials with the email subject title “Migration Forecasting GRA”.
Contact Person
Kyle Horton
Contact eMail
Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.