We (www.wagnerlabmsu.com) are seeking two motivated, skilled, energetic, and collaborative graduate students to join a cluster hire of four graduate students working on various questions related to the perception and response to predation risk in sea lamprey when migrating (either into rivers to spawn, or out of rivers to begin parasitic feeding). The work will integrate movement ecology, behavioral biology, and chemistry (semiochemical communication), and is conducted in collaboration with university and Federal scientists working in the U.S. and Canada. The scientific understanding developed will be used to examine theories surrounding the context-specificity of anti-predator tactic selection, and to develop novel, innovative approaches to controlling this species (where it is invasive) and conserving it (where it is threatened) that employ behavioral manipulations achieved by creating chemical information landscapes that guide the animal’s movement decisions. Both projects are funded by an international commission (www.GLFC.org), and will require interaction with agency managers and decision-makers, and public outreach.
If you are interested in applying for one of the projects listed below (or starting a conversation about either), please send a C.V. and cover letter addressing your graduate education and professional interests to Dr. Michael Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org), Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University.
Project #1 (M.S.): The successful applicant will study the out-migration timing and movement behavior of newly transformed parasitic sea lampreys (AKA macrophthalmia or ‘transformers’) in rivers draining to Lake Michigan. Our goals for this project are to (1) provide the first meaningful empirical insight into the movements and survival of wild juvenile sea lamprey during their out-migration from natal rearing grounds to the open waters of the Great Lakes, and (2) to demonstrate the utility of a new acoustic micro-transmitter for the study of juvenile sea lamprey, including the development of transferable protocols for tag implantation and holding practices. The project will integrate laboratory studies (surgical techniques and recovery, effects of the tag on swim performance and movement tendencies), and a field movement study to estimate reach-specific mortality rates experience by out-migrants by fitting a multi-state Cormack-Jolly-Seber model. The work will be in collaboration with university and Federal scientists working with the Hammond Bay Biological Station (Michigan) and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Washington). The student will be co-advised by Dr. Travis Brenden of the MSU Quantitative Fisheries Center (www.canr.msu.edu/qfc/). Two years of funding are guaranteed (stipend $21K, tuition and health benefits are paid). Requirements: B.S. in fisheries, biology, ecology, aquatic or marine science/biology, or general biology. Experience in working with fishes or in streams is desired, as are quantitative analysis skills, a proficiency with R, or experience with acoustic telemetry equipment (especially the JSATS system). A highly competitive student will have a GPA > 3.3 and GRE scores above the 65thpercentile.
Project #2 (M.S. or Ph.D.): The successful applicant will study the behavioral ecology of an alarm cue in sea lamprey (a chemical mixture released from injured tissue) that warns conspecifics about the location of predation events. This project is part the second phase of a larger project to discover the chemical structures of the compounds that comprise the alarm cue odor. The student will examine the behavioral reactivity and ecological function of identified compounds and mixtures in an attempt to isolate the complete alarm cue (never before accomplished in fishes). Work will be in collaboration with a post-doctoral research associate in Dr. Muralee Nair’s laboratory at MSU (chemistry of natural products), who is leading the effort to identify the compounds. In addition to addressing fundamental questions of anti-predator behavior, the student will also test mixtures for use in repellent-based behavioral manipulations to achieve management and conservation goals. Three years of funding are guaranteed (stipend $21K, tuition and health benefits are paid). Requirements: B.S. in fisheries, biology, ecology, aquatic or marine science/biology, or general biology. Experience in working with fishes or in streams is desired, as are quantitative analysis skills and proficiency with R. A highly competitive student will have a GPA > 3.3 and GRE scores above the 65th percentile. For consideration as a Ph.D. student, an appropriate M.S. related to the fields described above is required. Expertise in animal behavior and behavioral ecology are preferred for a Ph.D. student.