We are anticipating an opportunity for a PhD graduate assistantship in the Department of Zoology & Physiology at the University of Wyoming.

We are seeking a PhD student to develop dissertation research on the consequences of mutualism disruption by an invasive ant in Laikipia, Kenya. In Laikipia, native mutualist ants defend the dominant tree Acacia drepanolobium from browsing by wild mammals, including elephants, which can destroy whole trees. In return, trees provide food (nectar) and housing (swollen thorns). The invasive big-headed ant is disrupting this mutualism by killing native ant species, leaving the trees undefended against the destructive effects of elephants and other wild browsers. In the absence of browsing, however, trees may benefit from the invasive ant because it does not consume metabolically costly nectar rewards. We are interested in the consequences of this mutualism disruption for savanna dynamics, particularly as they relate to tree cover and demography.

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. International experience is a plus.

The PhD student will be co-advised by Drs. Corinna Riginos (http://www.corinnariginos.com/ ) and Jake Goheen (http://goheenresearchgroup.com/ ) at the University of Wyoming. Additionally, we anticipate this student enrolling in the Program In Ecology graduate program (http://www.uwyo.edu/pie/ ). 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 protected] and [email protected] 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 5 January 2016. We expect the student will commence graduate studies in Summer or Fall 2016.

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Corinna Riginos, Ph.D.
Research Ecologist
http://www.corinnariginos.com
phone: 307-413-2280

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