Research Project Description
Prairie Chicken Viability Modeling for the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
A postgraduate research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory (NHEERL). The appointment will be served with the Western Ecology Division (WED) in Corvallis, Oregon.
The Western Ecology Division seeks to advance scientific understanding through 1) experiments conducted in the laboratory and in specialized exposure chambers, 2) field studies, 3) modeling, and 4) analysis of large-scale environmental and ecological data sets. Scientists at WED provide technical support to EPA’s National Offices, Regions, States and Tribes in order to extend the results of our research to our clients.
The Central Great Plains Flint Hills ecoregion in Kansas is an economically and ecologically important area encompassing the largest remaining tallgrass prairie ecosystem in North America. Once widespread, the greater prairie chicken was heavily impacted by the conversion of these native prairies to cropland. Remaining populations are declining due to habitat loss, field burning, climate change, ranching, and other factors. The participant will have an opportunity to contribute to a study of greater prairie chicken viability that addresses these multiple factors, and evaluates future management options for protecting the species. This project centers on the development of a population viability model for the greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus), which is a species of significant conservation concern.
The research participant will learn about the life history of the greater prairie chicken, the environments in which it lives, and the various natural and anthropogenic disturbance regimes to which it is subjected. S/he will have an opportunity to contribute to the development of a population viability analysis model for the species. S/he will also have an opportunity to interact with species-experts in academia, with simulation modeling experts in a government research laboratory, and with stakeholders from the public and industry.
Through this research project, the selected participant will be provided with opportunities to learn how to develop computer simulation models, and with opportunities to practice communicating research findings to others through writing and speaking.
Applicants must have received a bachelor’s or master’s degree in ecology, zoology, fisheries & wildlife, or a closely related field within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date.
The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but a candidate also may hold an appropriate visa status; an H1B visa is not appropriate).
The appointment is full time for one year and may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and contingent on the availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. Funding may be made available to reimburse the participant's travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or a participant's health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.
Dr. Nathan H. Schumaker will be the mentor for this project. He can be contacted at Schumaker.firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Apply:
An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD/NHEERL-WED-2014-01 when calling or writing for information.