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Post-doctoral Research Associate

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Job Field:
Job Type:
Experienced Professional
Location Detail:
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD
Job Description:

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center is seeking a post-doctoral research associate with interest in survey design and analysis and waterfowl biology. Specific duties will be to conduct statistical analyses of waterfowl survey data in support of a review and re-design of the Waterfowl Breeding Population & Habitat Survey (WBPHS).


The Migratory Bird Program in the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) oversees the annual WBPHS, which provides essential information on population status and trends for harvest and habitat management of waterfowl in North America.  The core component of the WBPHS is an aerial transect survey conducted in survey strata across Canada and the northern United States.  The WBPHS is unique in providing a long-term, continental-scale data set on population status of waterfowl that controls for visibility bias.


The survey is currently undergoing a comprehensive review to

  • evaluate the scope of the survey relative to the distributions of target species,
  • consider design changes to more efficiently meet information needs, and
  • recommend analytical methods that better integrate survey results with models used for population assessment. 


Results from the project will be of direct relevance to waterfowl harvest and habitat management for USFWS and its partners, including the Canadian Wildlife Service, state wildlife agencies, and nongovernmental organizations, and will enhance the value of the WBPHS for use by conservationists, researchers, and the public.

We seek a post-doctoral fellow with expertise in statistical survey design and estimation to explore the performance of alternative sampling designs for estimating densities of priority species, under different scenarios for survey effort. Analyses of potential statistical methods and survey optimization should consider both design-based estimation and hierarchical models. This work will be done with consideration of (1) a newly proposed survey stratification, (2) the appropriateness of current sampling units, and consideration of alternatives, and (3) the need to align changes with the historical time series. Contingent on funding, work may also include evaluation of spatial/temporal scale, methods of visibility adjustment, response variables presently collected on the survey, and the status and efficiency of panel designs for the survey.


Minimum Requirements:

1. Ph.D. in biology (wildlife), statistics, or related field, with a focus on quantitative methods, survey design, and hierarchical modeling.

2. Applicant must be within 5 years of receiving PhD.

3. Applicant must be a US citizen.

4. Demonstrated familiarity with concepts of survey design and optimization.

5. Demonstrated proficiency with computing platforms such as R and software to fit Bayesian hierarchical models is required.

6. Demonstrated desire and ability to publish in the peer-reviewed literature.


Desired Abilities:

Competitive candidates will have a strong background in analysis of wildlife surveys. Strong programming skills are required, including proficiency with R for data manipulation and statistical modeling and Bayesian analysis. The successful candidate will have excellent written and personal communication skills and demonstrated success in working closely with management agencies on applied questions in wildlife conservation.

How to Apply:

Applicants should email: (1) a letter describing your background and interests – the letter should address specifically how the applicant meets both the minimum requirements and the desired abilities, (2) curriculum vitae, and (3) the names and contact information for 3 references to Dr. John Sauer ( Please include “WBPHS analysis postdoc” in the subject line.

For further information, contact:

John Sauer,, 301-497-5662, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, 12100 Beech Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708.