We are seeking a PhD student to develop dissertation research in collaboration with an NSF-funded project to understand how elephant browsing is compounding the negative effects of an invasive ant on trees in Laikipia, Kenya. In this region, native mutualist ants defend the dominant tree Acacia drepanolobium from browsing by elephants. The invasive big-headed ant is disrupting this mutualism by killing native ant species, leaving the trees undefended against the destructive effects of elephants -- which can destroy whole trees -- and other wild browsers. Invasive ants may also be having negative impacts on trees, independent of browsing. We are interested in the consequences of invasive ant-elephant interactions for savanna dynamics, particularly as they relate to tree cover and demography, and habitat use by wild and domestic ungulates.
Desired qualifications of the PhD student: (1) research experience (preferably an MSc) in ecology, wildlife biology, or a similar field; (2) demonstrated abilities in writing, oral communication, and statistical skills; (3) demonstrated ability in GIS and/or remote-sensing skills, or a strong desire to learn; (4) demonstrated ability in demographic modeling, or a strong desire to learn; (5) intellectual creativity and self-motivation to conceive, design, and implement dissertation work largely independently and in remote field conditions; and (6) demonstrated ability in communicating with rural landowners and other stakeholders.
The PhD student will be co-advised by Dr. Jake Goheen (http://goheenresearchgroup.com/) and Dr. Corinna Riginos (http://www.corinnariginos.com/) at the University of Wyoming. Field research will entail 4-8 months per year for four years at the Mpala Conservancy and Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia, Kenya.
To apply for this position, please send a single pdf attachment (file name formatted as lastname_firstname_phd_date.pdf) to email@example.com containing (1) a cover letter/statement of interest; (2) a CV; (3) copies of undergraduate and graduate transcripts; (4) copies of GRE scores; and (5) contact information for three references. Please use the subject header “PhD assistantship application”. Review of applications will begin 20 August 2016. We expect the student will commence graduate studies in Spring 2017.
Corinna Riginos, Ph.D.