[ECOLOG-L] OSU – Postdoc in large herbivore spatial ecology, demography, and management

Postdoc in large herbivore spatial ecology, demography, and management

The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University invites applications for a full-time (1.0 FTE) quantitative spatial ecologist for a Postdoctoral Research Associate position to study elk and mule deer spatial ecology, demography, nutritional ecology, and management using long-term datasets from the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range. The successful applicant will be appointed to work under the supervision of Dr. Taal Levi, together with a collaborative research team including Dr. Michael Wisdom and Mary Rowland from the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, and Dr. Darren Clark (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) as part of research funded by Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The preferred start date is July 1, 2016. Three years of funding are currently available, but the postdoctoral researcher will be hired on an annual basis and extended pending appropriate progress.


 Located in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon, Starkey Experimental Forest and Range is the site of one of the largest wildlife research enclosures in the world. The Starkey Project was initiated in 1987 with construction of a 2.4 m-high ungulate-proof fence that encloses 104 km2 of heterogeneous forested rangeland habitat. Data sets from Starkey represent some of the most accurate and detailed long-term information on animal movements and associated environmental, weather, and animal performance data ever collected. The research program at Starkey includes monitoring movements of cattle, elk, and mule deer, and the collection of several metrics of body condition, productivity, and recruitment of elk. Both elk and mule deer at Starkey are outfitted annually with telemetry (GPS) collars, and their reproductive status is assessed. As many as 400 elk are handled each winter, with collars placed on 40-50 cow elk and 10-20 bulls. Mule deer are captured primarily in traps outside the winter feedground, with 30-40 adult does captured annually and ~20-25 GPS collars hung. Twenty-seven continuous years of cattle, elk, and mule deer movement data have been collected (>10 million spatial locations) as part of a wide variety of landscape studies. Many additional datasets are available at multiple spatial scales, including results from long-term ungulate exclosures, reconstructed cougar populations, and the reproductive status and body condition of harvested ungulates across the state.

 The postdoctoral researcher is expected to explore diverse topics using existing datasets, but the research program must include (A) an analysis of the effect of burning and fuels treatment on ungulate space use, body condition, and productivity at multiple time points and the longevity of treatment effects on vegetation, and (B) analyses of spatial data on GPS-equipped hunters and ungulates to inform the management of elk and mule deer. Additional potential topics include (C) analysis of long-term integrated effects of weather, the nutritional landscape, predation and human activities on large herbivores, and (D) species interactions among elk, mule deer, and cattle. This is an excellent opportunity for a talented spatial ecologist with advanced analytical skills to produce high impact publications on large mammal ecology and management from a series of large datasets. The position may also include some seasonal fieldwork to meet project goals.


The postdoctoral researcher will be based at the La Grande Forestry & Range Sciences Laboratory, Pacific Northwest Research Station, in La Grande, Oregon, and in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Scientists in the La Grande Lab represent programs that address how natural and human-associated disturbances affect natural resources, and how disturbance regimes can be effectively understood and managed on forests and rangelands.  The La Grande Lab has a long-standing history of world-class ungulate research, largely conducted since the 1940s at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, and of transferring that knowledge effectively to land managers.  Much of the incumbent’s work will focus on continuing this high-quality research as part of a larger team of ungulate, forest, and rangeland ecologists who study a variety of facets of ungulate ecology, particularly the roles of elk, mule deer, and cattle as disturbance agents, and the effects of other disturbances, especially anthropogenic, on these species.


The postdoctoral researcher will 1) merge and analyze existing data sets, 2) lead field efforts as necessary, 3) present research results in written and oral formats for scientific and management audiences, and 4) contribute to pursuing new research questions and funding within the larger project objectives. An ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a multi-faceted research team is critical. 




Candidate must have earned a PhD or equivalent degree in ecology or a closely related field by the start date of appointment. Advanced degrees in statistics or computer science from applicants with ecological experience may also be considered.

The candidate must have demonstrated strong quantitative skills (including statistics, GIS, database construction and management). Desirable skills include advanced spatial analysis in R, or interfacing Python scripts with ArcGIS. Previous experience with analysis of animal movement and resource selection is highly preferred.Preference will be given to candidates with a strong publication record and research interests aligned with the research team.TO APPLY

Individuals interested in this position should submit a cover letter detailing how they meet the minimum and preferred qualifications as well as describing long term research objectives, electronic copies of a CV, and the names and contact information for a minimum of three individuals who can provide professional recommendations to support the application. Screening of applications will begin February 15, 2016 and applications will be received and considered until the position is filled. A start date of July 1, 2016 is preferred but there may be some flexibility for the preferred candidate. Please indicate your availability in your cover letter. Only those applicants selected for interviews or further consideration will be contacted personally.Please feel free to contact Dr. Levi with any questions about the position at: Taal.Levi@Oregonstate.edu

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