We have an opening for a PhD graduate research assistantship focused on assessing and modeling mammal responses to forest management in Alabama. The position will be co-supervised by Dr. Bob Gitzen and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk of the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment (CFWE) at Auburn University (AU).

This research is being conducted as part of the second phase of a larger multi-taxa effort to understand and predict the impacts of management alternatives on wild native vertebrates. As part of this effort, the student will have the opportunity to collaborate with a large team of AU faculty and graduate students, and biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

The project will involve field-based sampling in 6 ecoregions ranging from the Gulf Coastal Plain to the southern edge of the Appalachian Mountains. The position will entail coordination of an extensive field-based survey effort, with up to 10 field techs per fall sampling period. The position is funded for up to 5 years, beginning fall semester 2023 (preferred) or spring semester 2024. 

Specific dissertation chapters will be developed by the student in consultation with Gitzen, Lepczyk, committee members, and state cooperators. One or more chapters will focus on assessing small/medium-sized mammal responses to forest management on state-owned Wildlife Management Areas, using existing data collected during the first phase of the project (2008-2010) and data to be collected during 2024-2026.

This will include using 2024-2026 to evaluate and update state-space models of mammal occupancy in relation to forest structural state developed in the first phase of the project. Additional potential topics can range from highly applied (e.g., evaluating cost-effective alternative protocols for monitoring selected species on Alabama state lands) to broader conservation questions approached through modeling, meta-analyses, etc.

Required Qualifications

M.S. degree in Wildlife, Biology, Ecology, Zoology, or other closely related field. Note that strong candidates without an M.S. degree may be considered, with one possibility being to complete a M.S. thesis on the project before moving into the doctoral program.

  • Strong communication skills in oral and written English
  • Demonstrated record of publishing peer reviewed science (for Ph.D. level)
  • Ability and willingness to work independently and as part of an interdisciplinary team
  • Demonstrated experience with extensive field work under arduous conditions
  • Strong interest in ecology and conservation of mammals and other taxa
  • Strong quantitative skills and interests

    Desired Qualifications:

  • Extensive experience with small mammal live trapping and experience with camera trapping surveys
  • Experience working with state wildlife agencies
  • Experience with population modeling, species distribution modeling, GIS software, etc.


We strongly encourage from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds to talk with us and apply. Interested individuals should contact Dr. Bob Gitzen (rag0012@auburn.edu)  and Dr. Christopher Lepczyk (lepczyk@auburn.edu)  with any questions. To apply, please state “Mammal  Assistantship Position” in the email subject line to both addresses and include (1) a cover letter describing why you are interested in and qualified for the position, (2) a CV, (3) unofficial transcripts, (4) contact information for 3 references, and (5) TOFEL scores if applicable; compiling all items into a single pdf document is strongly preferred. Review of applications will begin April 28, 2023 and continue until the position is filled. Last Date to Apply: 06/01/2023 More information about our graduate program can be found here: https://cfwe.auburn.edu/graduate-study/graduate-degrees/

Contact Person: Bob Gitzen, Contact Phone:  3348441051

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