New Graduate Student Opportunities

Friday, November 1, 2013

Are you a Canadian interested in a Masters degree in Wetland Ecology?

Dr. Rooney's lab is currently seeking applicants for 2 Domestic MSc. positions.

Facts:

MSc. students at the University of Waterloo receive a minimum of $20,600 per year to support their studies.

They gain teaching experience through teaching assistantships in their field.

They take only 3 courses, sparing time to focus on their thesis.

To be considered, your average grade for the last two years (or part-time equivalent) of your undergraduate program must exceed 75%

The positions:

The funding for the positions is contingent on students being Canadian citizens (Domestic students only).

Both positions commence April 2014 and are funded through to April 2016.

Students interested in either of these positions should contact Dr. Rooney with a C.V. and transcript (unofficial is ok) at rrooney@uwaterloo.ca

1) The influence of invasive Phragmites australis on bird use and vegetation in Long Point marshes on Lake Erie.

The Long Point marshes constitute 70% of all wetland habitat on the north shore of Lake Erie.  They are a continentally important bird area and home to species at risk, including the Least Bittern.  These birds are threatened by the ongoing invasion of the non-native haplotype of Phragmites australis (Common Reed).  This invasive plant transforms wetland communities by out-competing native species and disrupting natural ecosystem processes including primary production and decomposition. The consequent changes in ecosystem structure and function must influence bird use, but the only existing study of Common Reed and birds in Long Point (carried out in 2001/2) suggests that bird abundance actually increased due to invasion.

The successful applicant will repeat this early study now that the invasion is more established to test the hypothesis that benefits associated with early invasion stages are reversed as the invasion progresses.  The student will also quantify the vegetation changes associated with invasion by comparing un-invaded plots with plots where invasion is established.

This project requires extensive field work at Long Point.  Outdoor skills, boating skills, as well as plant and bird identification skills will be an asset. 

2) Characterizing natural landscapes as a model for reclamation planning. 

Large scale mining and resource exploitation are taking place in Alberta's Boreal Forest and wherever energy resources are located. The companies that extract these resources are required to reclaim the land that they disturb to an "equivalent land capability," although this state is rarely clearly defined. In many cases, reclamation projects are the size of entire watersheds and currently no model exists on which to base such large scale reclamation. The reference condition approach provides a scientifically sound and defensible method for setting reclamation targets, regardless of the scale of the undertaking. By first characterizing the spatial arrangement of habitats within natural landscapes, we can use them to set appropriate reclamation targets, to ensure that reclaimed landscapes resemble natural ones.

The successful applicant will analyse existing remotely sensed data on the spatial arrangement and type of habitat patches in natural landscapes to extract representative metrics that will inform large scale reclamation. These metrics will be used to derive design criteria regarding the frequency distribution of wetland permanence classes, habitat patch sizes, connectivity, ratio of upland to wetland habitat, and so on.  

GIS skills are required. Skills with FRAGSTATS, univariate statistics, and the management of large data sets are an asset.  

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