The Department of Zoology and Physiology at the University of Wyoming, in collaboration with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department are looking for a Master’s student to investigate the distribution of river otters (Lontra canadensis) in all major watersheds in the state. Specific objectives include: 1) identifying river otter latrines along major rivers and lakes in Wyoming, 2) Estimating river otter abundance using DNA fingerprinting of fecal and hair samples, 3) Identifying landscape features affecting river otter occupancy and abundance in Wyoming.
The student will be responsible for all aspects of field and laboratory work, including protocol development, planning, logistics, sample collection, operating camera traps, and direction of field crews consisting of 1-2 full time technicians. Follow-up lab analyses will include DNA extraction, genotyping, and identification of individuals. The successful applicant will be expected to collect and maintain large data sets, use GIS and appropriate statistical techniques to analyze data, prepare annual reports, present results at meetings, and cultivate relationships with staff of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. It is likely that interactions with private land owners will be required. Though the project will generally require working closely with others, the student will also need to be self-motivated and work independently, often in remote locations under potentially adverse conditions.
The position will be based at the University of Wyoming’s main campus in Laramie, Wyoming under the supervision of Dr. Merav Ben David, Professor of Zoology and Physiology for the University of Wyoming (http://www.uwyo.edu/zoology/people/ bendavid.html).
Mandatory Qualifications: Candidates must have a BS in wildlife management, ecology, zoology, biology or a related field. Candidates must meet the minimum requirements for acceptance to the Zoology and Physiology Department (e.g., GPA > 3.0), but competitive applicants will be ranked higher. Basic knowledge of mammalian biology, introductory statistics, knowledge of program R and GIS principals are important.
Desired Qualifications: Competitive candidates will have prior field experience (particularly rafting and boating), experience analyzing data in the R computing environment, and experience manipulating spatial data in GIS packages such as ArcMap. Strong candidates will also demonstrate good writing skills, a strong work ethic, the ability to work with others as part of a team, and the ability to work independently in remote locations.