Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Department of Ecosystem Science and Management
University of Wyoming
Understanding the mechanisms governing and data establishing amphibian occupancy is of critical importance for meeting current management goals of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), US Forest Service, and other agencies in Wyoming and the Rocky Mountain region. Many amphibian species are species of conservation concern while and others have insufficient data to draw robust conclusions on status.
The Rocky Mountain Amphibian Project (RMAP; http://www.wyobiodiversity.org/Initiatives-Programs/CitSci/rocky-mountain-amphibian-project) is a collaborative effort to monitor amphibians across the mountains of Wyoming and northern Colorado. RMAP operates in partnership with the Biodiversity Institute, United States Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, and the Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center. The program goal was to design and implement a long-term program to monitor trends in amphibian occupancy for all local species. The program uses multiple independent visual surveys conducted by trained community scientists and agency biologists or technicians at each site to estimate detection rates (how often do you see them if they are actually there) and then corrects occupancy estimates for bias due to imperfect detection of species.
Standardized surveys at established monitoring sites (~350 wetlands across ~75 catchments) have occurred annually since 2012 on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest and since 2014 on the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Overall, the program has been highly successful and no declines in naïve occupancy have been detected; however, detailed occupancy modelling analyses have not been conducted since 2015. Although stable amphibian populations within the study area would be reassuring, lack of ability to detect trends given current data (sample size, assessing trends at the catchment vs. wetland level) is an alternative explanation. In addition, if populations are stable, understanding mechanism(s) governing amphibian persistence is essential for maintaining those populations into the future. Occurrence of amphibian species can be maintained through spatial and temporal variation of habitat (), sustaining vital rates in the presence of disease, and recolonization of unoccupied habitats.
We are hiring a Post-doctoral Research Associate, with funding from the UW Biodiversity Institute, to study processes limiting amphibian persistence using existing RMAP data, continued data collection in conjunction with community scientists, and environmental DNA. The position requires a Ph.D. in a relevant discipline (or near completion (ABD)), experience with field-based amphibian monitoring (or similar efforts), application of data science for management and analysis of a moderate-term monitoring dataset, environmental DNA and experience in R. This post-doc will be in the Landscape Ecology and Ecological Genetics laboratory of Dr. Melanie Murphy in conjunction with Dr. Wendy Estes-Zumpf from Wyoming Game and Fish Department.