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Bird Population Scientist




The Bird Population Scientist reports to the Senior Director, Data Science and Technology, and works closely with Bird Studies Canada program managers, senior scientific staff, and Bird Studies Canada’s partners and funders to promote and advance Bird Studies Canada’s scientific capacity. Working in consultation with program staff, s/he is responsible for the development and implementation of scientific approaches (particularly development of analytical methods, reporting and peer-review publications), to advance our understanding of bird population dynamics, in support of Bird Studies Canada’s mission and objectives.

The Bird Population Scientist will be expected to design and implement, in collaboration with other National Data Centre staff, software (particularly R scripts) to analyze and report on findings aimed at the various Bird Studies Canada constituents (governments, conservation scientists, general public). Products include reports and analyses data that be integrated into Bird Studies Canada’s web sites (e.g. Motus Wildlife Tracking System, NatureCounts, Breeding Bird Atlases) or made available through other means (e.g. R packages). The Bird Population Scientist will also publish research results in scientific journals and maintain expertise by remaining current with scientific literature and maintaining a network in the scientific community.


The Bird Population Scientist must have:

  1. a Ph. D. in biological sciences (including biostatistics) or equivalent demonstrated experience
  2. a proven ability to design, manage, analyze and report on scientific studies, particularly using large-scale datasets
  3. superior writing skills for a variety of audiences, both technical and popular
  4. a proven ability to produce high-quality scientific papers and reports
  5. proficiency in statistical methods used for animal population analysis and movement modeling, including, generalized linear models, hierarchical models in frequentist and Bayesian frameworks, capture-recapture methods, and state-space models.
  6. proficiency with a wide range of computer software, including R, WinBugs, relational databases (SQL language, dplyr).
  7. experience (or interest in learning) advanced programming skills is an asset (e.g. developing R packages, Java, C++)
  8. a working knowledge and broad understanding of bird conservation issues in Canada and elsewhere and a good overall background in avian biology, field ornithology and citizen-science data
  9. a good understanding and grasp of the concepts of wildlife population monitoring, and on the uses and limitations of data from Bird Studies Canada’s various monitoring programs in terms of their application to bird conservation.
  10. willingness to seek adjunct status at a Canadian university and supervise graduate students an asset.


 $51,000 – $70,000, depending on skills and experience.


In collaboration with the Senior Director, Data Science and Technology, other Bird Studies Canada scientists and Senior Management, the Bird Population Scientist takes the lead in developing and advancing Bird Studies Canada’s scientific capacities, in particular as they relate to our ability to understand bird population dynamics (e.g., long term trends and mechanisms underlying changes, migrations and their limiting factors) and their application to bird conservation initiatives.

  1. Analyzes data and interprets results with an applied conservation context whenever possible. Prepares scientific reports for clients and manuscripts suitable for publication in the scientific literature when appropriate.
  2. Develops analytical and visualization tools and scripts (e.g. R scripts or packages) that integrate with other components of Bird Studies Canada’s National Data Center, and that can facilitate the partial or complete automation of repeat analysis (e.g. for annual reporting).
  3. Works with program managers and other staff to develop appropriate work plans and scripts to ensure the timely reporting of population trends from bird population monitoring programs.
  4. In collaboration with external researchers, develops and implements analytical techniques for Motus, such as state-space or spatial mark-recapture methods, to model the movement of individuals or groups in time and space, along with associated error in position and detection.
  5. Prepares “popular” articles and other communications for Bird Studies Canada outreach venues, internal reports to Bird Studies Canada’s National Science Advisory Council, and other agencies as required.
  6. Remains current on scientific methods and techniques most suited for the analysis of bird population data (i.e. literature, conferences, etc.), and makes determinations regarding limitations and strengths of various analytical methods used for Bird Studies Canada’s datasets.
  7. Works with program managers to establish priorities to ensure that results from Bird Studies Canada’s monitoring programs are adequately reported on, and in a way that can inform conservation planning
  8. Seeks funding opportunities for Bird Studies Canada’s scientific programs, with a particular focus on analytical aspects, in collaboration with other senior staff (e.g. develops contacts, helps or leads grant writing).
  9. Helps track income and expenses as well as help prepare budgets
  10. Coordinates and/or attends relevant advisory and scientific committee meetings.
  11. Helps review scientific reports and manuscripts prepared by other Bird Studies Canada program staff as required.
  12. Helps develop new programs and expand existing ones, with a focus on those that have an applied conservation aspect. As such, she/he helps develop project proposals to fund new and existing programs; helps design the scientific framework; and helps develop staffing resources for new programs and projects as required.
  13. Works with other Bird Studies Canada staff to ensure that data presentation tools that rely on sound analytical frameworks can be incorporated into Bird Studies Canada’s web site.
  14. Helps develop annual work plan for relevant programs and targets work efforts to meet highest priorities.

Additional Research

The Bird Population Scientist is also encouraged to pursue additional collaborative research that fits within the scope of Bird Studies Canada’s mandate. As such, the Bird Population Scientist is encouraged to acquire an adjunct status at a Canadian University, and to consider supervising graduate student work that fall within his/her area of expertise. The Bird Population Scientist may need to lead fundraising in support of such activities.


  • The Bird Population Scientist is responsible for seeking funding opportunities for Bird Studies Canada’s scientific programs, in the range of $25,000 to $100,000 annually, with a particular focus on analytical aspects, in collaboration with other senior staff (e.g. develops contacts, helps or leads grant writing).
  • This position helps track income and expenses as well as help prepare budgets for the National Data Centre, the National Breeding Bird Atlas and other programs


  • The Bird Population Scientist may be called to supervise the work of between 1-3 contractors, volunteers and/or staff.


  • Analysis and reporting: This position holds a high responsibility for ensuring appropriate analysis methods and accurate reporting of bird population data to our staff, funders and partners. Errors in interpretation or treatment of data could lead to loss of credibility by Bird Studies Canada, or even potentially lead to inappropriate policy decisions that adversely impact bird conservation.
  • External Communications: The Bird Population Scientist will be called occasionally to represent Bird Studies Canada externally. Error in remarks with partners, government, corporations or the media could lead to considerable setback in Bird Studies Canada’s progress and to its credibility with stakeholders groups.
  • Health and Safety: Depending on project opportunities (and personal interest), the Bird Population Scientist may have some field component to their work, which can be in remote and/or potentially dangerous situations.


  • Preference for location of the position is Bird Studies Canada’s head office in Port Rowan, or alternatively the Bird Studies Canada office in Delta (Vancouver).


  • This position will require a moderate amount of travel (3-6 times a year) to attend meetings or conferences, primarily in Canada and occasionally overseas. If the Bird Population Scientist is not primarily based at Bird Studies Canada’s head office in Port Rowan, they will be expected to travel a few times a year (2 or 3) for periods of several days or more.
  • Occasional weekend and evening work may be necessary to accommodate speaking engagements and travel.


  • Those interested should send their resume (including at least 2 references) before 14 November 2018 to:

Denis Lepage
Senior Director, Data Science and Technology


Approved 16 October 2018


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