University of Otago PhD position studying population demographics of bottlenose dolphins in Fiordland, New Zealand

Posted: 08 May 2019

Closing: 31 May 2019

Category: Non MASTS

University of Otago PhD position studying population demographics of bottlenose dolphins in Fiordland, New Zealand

The Marine Mammal Research Group at the University of Otago has been studying the Fiordland population of bottlenose dolphins since 1990. Based on low abundance and predicted decline, the population is classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to continue the long-term photo-ID monitoring project and develop demographic analyses which help to explain the population’s status and contribute to management.

Potential research avenues include, but are not limited to,

  • environmental drivers of demographic stochasticity
  • intrapopulation variation in habitat use
  • investigating Allee effects

The student will be based at the University of Otago in Dunedin, and carry out fieldwork in Fiordland National Park (specifically, Doubtful, Dusky and Milford Sounds).

The successful applicant will have the following attributes: 

  • Masters degree in marine mammal ecology or biostatistics 
  • Previous experience with photo-ID of cetaceans 
  • Previous experience in charge of small vessels (the student will be required to gain a NZ Coastguard Boatmaster qualification) 
  • Excellent quantitative skills, including experience with capture-recapture analyses and population modelling 
  • Capable of working in a small team in challenging weather conditions in a remote location

Fieldwork will be supported by a collaboration between the University of Otago, New Zealand Whale & Dolphin Trust and Department of Conservation.

A strong applicant would be expected to obtain a University of Otago PhD scholarship.

If you are interested, please send a covering letter explaining your motivation and why you are suitable for the position, and a two-page CV to will.rayment@otago.ac.nz