Description We are recruiting two ambitious M.S. students to assess population demography, foraging behavior and spatial ecology of northern bobwhites on low-quality edaphic systems in southeastern North Carolina. The project is part of an ongoing research collaboration between University of Kentucky and private lands conservationists in North Carolina. As such, all coursework will be conducted in Lexington, KY and all field work will be in the Coastal Plain of NC. Northern bobwhite populations have been plummeting for decades due to habitat loss and degradation, among other drivers. Critical to the persistence of these birds in many landscapes is sustaining robust, productive populations of the species in landscapes where they have become increasingly rare.

Supplemental feeding is a strategy to maintain dense bobwhite populations, however, there remain many unknowns regarding its implementation as a management and conservation practice. The student(s) will affix transmitters and track bobwhites to assess population dynamics by estimating vital rates and using demographic/spatial models to quantify aspects of bobwhite ecology such as foraging behavior across landscapes of varying nutritional quality and quantity. This project provides the opportunity to gain experience with cutting-edge technologies including GPS, thermal imaging, and UAVs. There will also be opportunities to explore other research questions associated with the work, depending on the candidate’s interest.

Funding is available for two years while working towards a M.S. degree in Forestry and Natural Resources at University of Kentucky. Field work, which will all occur in North Carolina, will include free housing and the use of several full-time field technicians. Although the project is focused on bobwhites, the study area occurs within pristine longleaf pine forest with a wide variety of other rare species in abundance like Bachman’s sparrow, red-cockaded woodpecker, southern fox squirrel, brown-headed nuthatch, and Venus flytrap, to name a few. The student will be expected to work closely and collaboratively with wildlife biologists in NC, private landowners, field technicians/interns, and other students on this project. The student must also be comfortable with the consumptive use of wildlife.

The M.S. position includes a graduate stipend of $21,000 annually, tuition waiver, and health insurance for the student. The student will conduct research in the McNeil Lab (, which works on a wide range of research projects in wildlife ecology and conservation, with an emphasis on the management of habitat-limited bird species (both game and non-game). The student will also likely be co-advised and mentored by a researcher located at the field site. The McNeil Lab has a strong legacy cultivating an atmosphere of diversity, equity, and inclusion and encourages diverse applicants to apply. Qualifications B.S. in biology, ecology, wildlife biology or related field.

To apply, please combine the following into a single PDF file: (1) a 1–2-page cover letter that details why you are interested in this position, your most relevant experiences, and your professional goals/aspirations; (2) a Curriculum Vitae; (3) contact information for three references (i.e., name, affiliation, email, and phone number); and (4) unofficial transcripts [in that order]. Please include your last name in the title of the PDF. Send the PDF as an attachment to no later than 1 February 2023 with the subject line of the email titled “Northern Bobwhite M.S. Position.” Please note that application review will begin immediately upon receipt, so interviews may be offered before the closing date of 1 February 2023. Contact Person D.J. McNeil Contact Phone 859-257-7594 Contact eMail

Salary 21,000/year Last Date to Apply 02/01/2023

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