Position: Ph.D. graduate research assistant (two positions available). The positions are funded under research assistantships for three years, including summer salary and full tuition waiver. Students will be supported by teaching assistantships or other research assistantships beyond these three years.
Project: This proposal has two objectives: (1) understand how global environmental change has impacted seasonal timing and population abundance of aerial insectivores over the past 25 years and (2) determine drivers of recent within and between seasonal variation in timing and abundance. Aerial insectivore populations have shown precipitous declines in the last half century — often at much steeper rates than other aerial taxa. Understanding mechanisms driving these changes would have broad implications for hundreds of species of birds, bats, and insects, and also serve as an indicator of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem health. However, the datasets needed to understand these mechanisms are currently lacking and urgently needed. While macroscale remote-sensing platforms for animals are rare, the United States weather surveillance radar network has emerged as a comprehensive source of information about flying animals, with large-scale and long-term (>two decades) coverage. Our team will employ an interdisciplinary approach integrating radar remote sensing, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), and computer science to fill this vital gap to test questions about population change, phenology, and trophic interactions in response to anthropogenic drivers of macroscale environmental change. We focus our research on the widespread roosting behaviors of three aerial insectivore species as bellwethers for environmental change and ecosystem health: Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, and Mexican free-tailed Bat. This collaborative and interdisciplinary approach will yield large-scale, quantitative, and predictive insights into changing environments.
NSF Award info: https://bit.ly/2YcfWUW
The candidate is expected to have completed a master’s degree in a related field (Biology, Ecology, Wildlife Ecology, Remote Sensing) prior to starting the position in January 2021. The student should have experience in R coding, geospatial analysis, avian or bat ecology, and a record in disseminating research findings, including presentations and peer-reviewed publications. This position is embedded within a larger team at Colorado State University, University of Oklahoma, and University of Massachusetts.
To Apply: Please send your application to Kyle Horton (kyle.horton[AT]colostate.edu) 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, why you are interested in this project, and how this degree helps fulfill your career aspirations. Send your materials with the email subject title “Aerial Insectivore GRA”.