Immediate MSc opportunity in Fish Ecology – Canada
The Associate Director of the Institute of Environmental Change and Society
(IECS) at the University of Regina, Canada is inviting applications for a fully-funded MSc project to study gamefish ecology in prairie hardwater lakes to assess their vulnerability to possible future invasion of zebra/quagga mussels (ZQM). See below for more information.
The preferable start date is June 2018, but no later than August 2018. In addition to laboratory analyses, this projects has a large field component.
Previous experience with lake surveys, fish ecology, stable isotope techniques and strong quantitative skills are critical assets. Please send your cover letter, CV and names of two references to firstname.lastname@example.org before May 15th 2018. Due to the short time line, applications will be assessed as they come in. For further information regarding this opportunity, please contact Dr. Bjoern Wissel
Stakeholder surveys identified that Saskatchewan (SK) prairie lakes are highly valued for recreational fishing, with walleye being most desirable.
Provincial stocking programs sustain populations but survival and growth of walleye depend on healthy ecosystems and readily available prey items. Past food-web analyses indicated that winterkill is now the largest threat to gamefish communities, eliminating them from many formerly populated lakes.
In addition, elevated parasite load in sub-saline lakes and warmer summers reduce growth of walleye and other species. Stable isotope analyses showed that walleye diet is largely derived from open-water habitats, while shallow-water sources are of minor importance. This feeding strategy makes walleye particularly vulnerable to the impacts of effective filter feeders, such as zebra/quagga mussels (ZQM). Once ZQM invade a water body they can dramatically reduce the productivity of open-water habitats, often resulting in fish starvation. Large efforts are underway to prevent ZQM invasion in SK lakes, but the proximity of ZQM along existing invasion corridors and lack of public vigilance are major threats. To develop adaptive management strategies that alleviate negative future impacts of ZQM on walleye (in addition to existing stressors), a detailed analysis of their current diet sources and energy requirements is needed. Accordingly, we will conduct a 2-year survey that will assess walleye condition and food sources in eight smaller prairie lakes. Such smaller lakes are ideal systems for this study as they are more sensitive to the impacts of climate change and ZQM and therefore represent early-warning systems.