PhD position on Key Biodiversity Areas and species range modelling

summer landscape of bylot island - sun, grass and meandering creeks

Wildlife Conservation Society Canada (WCSC) is leading a collaborative effort to identify and establish a comprehensive national network of Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) in Canada. WCSC will identify KBAs, which are sites that will contribute significantly to the global persistence of biodiversity, through the application of a new global standard, which is currently being introduced and adapted to the Canadian context.

We propose a PhD project that will be undertaken within the context of a Canadian KBA Coalition of governments, NGOs, scientists and Indigenous groups, that is working together to develop and apply the KBA approach. In particular, the PhD student will investigate the following methodological approaches and tools:

Develop a range modelling pipeline with Prof. Dominique Gravel’s research group at the Université de Sherbrooke in order to  automate the identification of Key Biodiversity Areas with open access occurrence data. The data and modelling approach will be tested and refined using data on Quebec biodiversity with a particular emphasis on rare and threaten species. The probability distribution model outputs will be used to identify KBAs and identify gaps, and uncertainties in the model outputs can then be refined, for example by identifying geographic areas or taxa that require further sampling. The approach will also be tested and refined for different taxa that may require unique methods. A second project will  aim to project future range maps under climate change scenarios and investigate the ability of the identified KBAs to contribute to persistence of biodiversity. 

The output will be a method/model for species ranges from heterogenous sources of information, a preliminary set of Key Biodiversity Areas in Quebec and climate change scenarios. There is potential for testing the methods more broadly in Canada in collaboration with other scientists in the Canadian KBA Coalition.

We offer a $20,000/yr scholarship for 4 years. The student will join the training program in computational biodiversity science BIOS2 which gives access to a rich network of collaborators, opportunities for internships and travels, training activities and working groups. The student will be co-supervised by Dominique Gravel at Université de Sherbrooke and Ciara Raudsepp-Hearne from WCSC. The student will also be involved in the activities of the KBA Coalition.

We are looking for candidates with a MSc from biology or geography with a strong background in statistics or modelling. The application consists of a letter of motivation, a detailed CV, university transcripts and the name of 3 people who can provide references. The candidate should be able to start at the summer or the fall 2020 session.

Applications will be reviewed until the end of February 2020, or until the position is filled. Send your application to: and with the following title: “Application KBA PhD projet – name”.

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