Research opps with wiiild wiiiild horses ~

29 de marzo de 2011

Research opps with wiiild wiiiild horses

Job Title: Ph.D. and post-doc opportunities working with the wild
(feral) horses of Sable Island, Nova Scotia: research focus on fundamental
ecology and conservation biology (population ecology, evolution, multi-
species interactions [horses, seals, seabirds, vegetation]). Stellar
M.Sc. candidates (funding in hand) also can apply!

Location: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan,

Closing: Open until filled, but applications viewed first on April
15, 2011

Apply: Email me a CV and pdf copies of both undergrad and graduate
transcripts (unless interested in a post-doc, then only a CV is
required). Email to Please write “Sable
Island” as the subject line.

Description: My lab is developing a long-term, individual-based program of
research into the ecology and evolution of the feral horses living on
Sable Island, Nova Scotia. As part of this initiative, I am looking to
recruit Ph.D. students or post-docs to ask fundamental questions of the
population ecology, life history, behaviour, and evolution of the feral
horse population, and inter-species and inter-ecosystem dynamics between
horses, vegetation, and other species on the island such as birds and
seals. I am particularly looking for post-docs and mature M.Sc. students
that are interested in developing a Ph.D. program that will contribute to
and make use of the long-term data set my lab is collecting on the life
histories of the horses on the island. This summer will be the fourth
year of data collection, which includes summer censusing and
identification of all individuals on the island using digital photography,
and documentation of individual life histories with the goal of
constructing whole-island pedigrees. Sample sizes are large, with more
than 400 horses currently living on the island. Ph.D. students with 2–3
years of further data collection will be in a position to ask interesting
questions regarding individual-based dynamics, band dynamics and
dispersal, behaviour and dominance, habitat selection, social networking,
sex-ratios, or, with potential sampling of horses for DNA and traits such
as body size, questions on genetics and evolution, including paternity.
There is also the potential to ask questions (depending on securing
additional funding) of the impacts of the feral horses on island bird
populations, including endangered Roseate Terns.

The important thing is that applicants will be mature enough to develop
their own insightful questions of ecology, using the system we have access
to on Sable Island as a model. That said, our lab is following several
lines of research that potential students may want to build on. Current
students are studying spatial heterogeneity in horse population growth on
the island, band-level social networking, patterns in vegetation and
successional dynamics, and spatial heterogeneity in isotopic signatures
from vegetation samples and horse tissues to develop isoscapes to
determine the importance of seal and seabird transference of marine-
derived nutrients to island dynamics. Opportunities to publish in the
best journals of our field and set oneself up for a career in academia can
be found here. Field work will occur principally in late summer on Sable
Island; further information on this field site can be found at my lab
website, below. My expanding lab will soon be moved to a new office
designed to promote an atmosphere of collaboration among students
(communally housed student spaces with whiteboard and conference table).
Students can expect to publish outside of one’s own thesis topic as part
of whole-lab research questions.

Successful applicants will require a Canadian NSERC PGS
scholarship/fellowship or other secured source of scholarship funding
(e.g., if an international student). I am particularly interested in
candidates that anticipate being successful in the current year’s NSERC
scholarship/fellowship round, to start this summer or in the fall; or
students that are in the process of finishing their degrees and would thus
be in a position to apply for an NSERC scholarship/fellowship this
October, for a start date in May 2012. Preference will be given to
students that aspire to a career in academia and who have a track record
that reflects this career goal. In addition to obtaining scholarships,
students will be expected to apply for and help secure research funding
for their own projects. Students and post-docs with funding in-hand are
always welcome.

Interested applicants should contact me by email
(, and be prepared to submit a current CV with
copies of transcripts (unless a post-doc, in which case only a CV is
needed). Website:

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