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15 February 2021

A PhD position, with three years partial NSERC funding, is available in the Cumming lab at Laval University, Québec City. The position will be instrumental to a new collaboration between two long-standing Canadian research groups in avian ecology, the Boreal Avian Modelling Project and Birds Canada, and researchers in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Using a new compilation of long-term nocturnal owl survey data from across Canada, the successful applicant will develop species distribution models to explain and predict the occupancy or density of owl species within the Canadian boreal region, and to estimate their total population sizes. Examples of the statistical techniques we have previously used for forest songbirds and waterfowl can be consulted here and here. The applications are to avian conservation and population assessment in Canada’s managed forest lands. Depending on the interests of the applicant, the thesis could also include elements of spatial simulation and forecasting e.g. of owl responses to climate change, or of population ecology.

The critical qualifications are strong quantitative skills coupled with an interest in avian ecology and conservation in general, independent of disciplinary background. Proficient written communication in English is desirable. This is a lab-based position, but there will be opportunities to take part in nocturnal owl surveys in Québec and/or Ontario. The student will be encouraged to spend a term with Dr. Danielle Ethier at the Birds Canada National Headquarters in Port Rowan, Ontario (expenses will be paid).

The position begins September 1, 2021. Applicants should submit a short statement of interest, a sample of their scientific writing, a current CV, and names of three referees to the undersigned, by email. Applications received by March 15 will receive full consideration.


Support for relocation expenses is available to qualified applicants



Steve Cumming

Département des sciences du bois et de la forêt,

Université Laval

Centre d’études de la forêt


Danielle Ethier

Birds Canada

Port Rowan, Ontario.


Philip Dewit

Wildlife Monitoring Program Lead

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

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Learn about the results from 20 years of monitoring nocturnal owls in Atlantic Canada.
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Northern Saw-whet Owl Photo: Brock & Sherri Fenton

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