PhD Assistantship: Post-Treatment Response of Greater Sage-Grouse to Treatments in Wyoming Big Sagebrush

Focal Area: Wildlife & Wildlands Conservation
Institution Name: University of Wyoming
Terminal Degree:
Location: Laramie, Wyoming
Stiped: $21,060/year
Start Date: 8/1/2014
Application Deadline:

I am seeking a highly qualified student to collect post-treatment field data and model sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) resource selection and demographic response to treatments (mowing and Spike 20P application) in Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata wyomingensis). Wyoming big sagebrush is the most widely distributed subspecies of big sagebrush in the sagebrush biome and provides important habitat to sagebrush obligate wildlife including sage-grouse. The selected student will evaluate the last 4 years (2015–2018) of a larger study designed as a before-after-control-impact study that includes 3 years (2011–2013) of pre-treatment data collection (phase 1), a treatment phase (phase 2 – winter and spring of 2014) trained by data from phase 1, and a post-treatment phase (2014–2018). The student will collaborate with another PhD student (focused on the first 4 years of data collection) to evaluate before-after treatment aspects of a rich data set consisting of VHF and GPS coordinate data, demographic rates, microhabitat vegetation plot data, treated and untreated sagebrush nutritional and structural data, and information on chick sage-grouse including morphological measurements, feather isotopes, and food availability (insects and forbs). Identifying positive, negative, or neutral sage-grouse demographic responses will aid in determining the efficacy of treatments in Wyoming big sagebrush intended to enhance habitat for sage-grouse as well as other species of wildlife associated with the sagebrush biome. Our study area is located in Fremont and Natrona Counties, Wyoming in the historic Sweetwater River Valley near the majestic Wind River Mountain Range. The field crew is housed in Jeffrey City, adjacent to Highway 287. Our study receives significant logistical supported from the Lander Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The position begins in August 2014 and will require teaching assistance for the first 2 years of support. Applicants may gain field experience during summer 2014 as a technician, but the successful applicant must commit to 4 rigorous field seasons (2015–2018) as part of this PhD program. This commitment includes supervising a 5-person field crew that monitors 100–140 female sage-grouse in spring/summer. Tuition and fees, health insurance, and an annual stipend are provided for a total annual support package of $27,427 ($21,060 is annual stipend).

The successful applicant may choose to enroll in a PhD program in Ecology ( or Rangeland Ecology and Watershed Management ( through the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at the University of Wyoming and will be expected to compile annual progress reports, publish manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals, and regularly present findings to lay and scientific audiences. Applicants with rigorous field experience and an established record of presentations and publications will be viewed very highly.

Master’s of Science degree in the biological, ecological, or natural resource sciences or a closely related field, relevant research experience, proven field skills under adverse weather conditions, a publication record, strong quantitative capabilities, and excellent written and oral communication skills. A minimum graduate GPA of 3.5 and GRE of 297 (combined verbal and quantitative; 1100 on old scale) and analytical writing of 4.0+ are mandatory. Applicants who have an intellectual interest in linking population processes to animal resource selection patterns are especially encouraged to apply. Please send your CV with contact information for 3 references, transcripts, and GRE scores as 1 PDF and also send 1 PDF of a published article (or one currently in review) to Dr. Jeff Beck via email (

Contact Information:
Dr. Jeff Beck
Department of Ecosystem Science and Mangement
College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY 82071
Phone: 307-766-6683