A MS graduate research assistantship is available in the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment at Auburn University to examine the consumption of baitfish by predatory birds at aquaculture farms in eastern Arkansas. The objectives of this 2-year study are to quantify the abundance and foraging patterns of predatory birds (mainly blackbirds), rate of baitfish consumption, and ultimately the impact of these predatory birds on whole-farm profitability.

Working as part of a team with field staff from the USDA National Wildlife Research Center-Mississippi Field Station, the graduate student will conduct ground and drone surveys (counts and behavioral observations) of predatory birds at brood ponds and spawning mats during March-May each year. Additional surveys will be conducted from April-July within fish sheds where baitfish are held prior to shipment. A sample of predatory birds observed on ponds and within fish sheds will be collected and necropsied to estimate baitfish consumption.

This project will require significant overnight travel to conduct field research and work under adverse (hot, night, rainy etc.) weather conditions. This project is a cooperative effort among the Auburn University’s College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment and School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, the USDA National Wildlife Research Center-Mississippi Field Station, and Virginia Tech.

Qualifications: B.S. in wildlife, fisheries, biology, or closely related natural resource field. A strong work ethic, good verbal, analytical (statistics), and written communication skills are required. The ability to work independently and as a productive member of a research team is required. Familiarity with analytical software like R and techniques such as occupancy analyses preferred but not required. The student must be comfortable with the use of firearms (training provided) and conducting necropsies. Applicants must have a minimum of 3.0 GPA and competitive GRE scores (e.g., >150 on Verbal and Quantitative). Pending approval of external funding, the expected start date is May 1, 2023.

Application: Submit by March 15, 2023 in a single pdf document a 1) cover letter stating your interests and career goals, 2) transcript(s) and GRE scores (unofficial copies fine), 3) resume/CV, and 4) full contact information for 3 references to: Mark D. Smith W. Kelly Mosely Environmental Professor/Extension Specialist College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment 3301 Forestry and Wildlife Sciences Auburn University, AL 36849 Phone: 334.844.8099 Email: mds0007@auburn.edu Contact Person Mark D Smith Contact eMail mds0007@auburn.edu

Salary $18,000/year and tuition waiver.

Start Date 05/01/2023 Last Date to Apply 03/15/2023

Website https://cfwe.auburn.edu/

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