PhD position in Biodemography

Below is a PhD position in which our team will be largely involved. Feel free to apply!

PhD Position in Biodemography at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé ‐ CNRS, France
We are looking for one PhD student – funded by CNRS through the European Research Council (ERC) program EARLYLIFE (PI H. Weimerskirch) – to contribute to our research program investigating the foraging behaviour and demography of the early life of long lived marine mammals and seabirds.

A major goal in biodiversity conservation is to predict responses of populations to environmental change. To achieve this goal, quantitative information on juvenile and immature stages is essential because their mortality controls recruitment to reproductive stages and the future of populations, but also because it is young individuals that disperse most and have the potential to emigrate and colonise new environments. In this research program (EARLYLIFE) we investigate how young individuals respond to environmental changes in terms of foraging skills, foraging ecology and demography and how this affects the population dynamics. For this, we employ biodemographic analysis of long‐term data from natural populations of long‐lived marine top predators (seabirds ands seals) and extensive tracking data on juveniles and adults.

Towards these goals, a PhD position will take the lead on the analysis of juvenile survival and recruitment processes and on the effects of juvenile individual characteristics (body size, body condition, foraging skills, habitat use) and environmental factors on these demographic rates. Telemetry data will allow making inferences on the spatio‐temporal mortality of juveniles and on the variables of the physical environment affecting juvenile mortality. In the light of these results a retrospective analysis of our long term demographic database will allow to test the effects of environmental conditions encountered during early life on juvenile survival and recruitment processes and to estimate the genetic component of foraging tactics.

The student will work with advanced statistical models to investigate juvenile survival and recruitment processes (e.g., multistate, multievent and known‐fate capture recapture models, integrated population models, state‐space models), with long‐term capture recapture time series (from 20 to 40 years) of seabirds (albatrosses and petrels), and with tracking data (newly developed loggers using the GPS and Argos technology). Possibility to contribute to fieldwork on albatrosses and petrels, although not compulsory.

Qualifications
• MSc degree (or equivalent) in population ecology, biostatistics, evolutionary biology, or a relevant field.
• Solid knowledge of and demonstrated interest in population ecology and population dynamics in changing environments.
• Strong quantitative skills, proficiency in statistical analysis and demographic modelling in R or Matlab, and good experience in capture recapture modelling.

The PhD will be based at Centre d’Etudes Biologiques de Chizé (CNRS, Chizé, France) under the supervision of Christophe Barbraud and Henri Weimerskirch with ample collaboration with biostatisticians from Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive (CNRS, Montpellier, France) and with ecologists at CNRS Chizé. Net Salary will be c. 1500€.

Please send the following material in a single PDF file to Christophe Barbraud, Henri Weimerskirch and Olivier Gimenez. Screening of applicants will start October 2nd, 2013 and continue until the position is filled.
• Cover letter indicating your motivation and expectations from this PhD
• Detailed CV
• One page summary of your MSc degree
• Contact information for two references