Post Doctoral Research Associate - Aquatic Biodiversity

University of Massachusetts Amherst
UMass Amherst

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Job Details

Job no: 509497
Work type: Post Doc (Amherst Only)
Location: UMass Amherst
Department: Environmental Conservation
Union: Post Doc
Categories: Postdoctoral Research Associate, College of Natural Sciences

About UMass Amherst

UMass Amherst, the Commonwealth's flagship campus, is a nationally ranked public research university offering a full range of undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University sits on nearly 1,450-acres in the scenic Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts, and offers a rich cultural environment in a bucolic setting close to major urban centers. In addition, the University is part of the Five Colleges (including Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College), which adds to the intellectual energy of the region.

Job Summary

Rivers and streams provide both habitat and migration corridors to a myriad of species, including plants, fishes, amphibians, birds, mammals, and insects. Beginning in 2003, states in the Northeast started integrating ecological principles in management plans to protect imperiled species and aquatic biodiversity. More recently, states have started considering the impacts of climate change and the role of habitat heterogeneity in an effort to promote biodiversity in the face of a changing climate. However, none of these frameworks define biodiversity metrics, incorporate climate change specifically, nor evaluate alternate management scenarios. Therefore, the DOI Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC) has funded a project that will incorporate CASC products on climate change and ecosystem responses, along with state data on aquatic biota (e.g., fishes, freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates), to evaluate protection and restoration options in an effort to protect aquatic biota under future climate scenarios. This work is a collaboration among the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Massachusetts Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit (MA Coop Unit), DOI Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), New Hampshire (NH) Dept. of Environmental Services, Connecticut (CT) Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Vermont (VT) Fish and Wildlife Department.

We are recruiting a postdoctoral researcher who will use an analytical, iterative process to evaluate aquatic biodiversity protection scenarios across four northeastern states (NH, VT, MA, CT). The postdoctoral researcher will compile existing data on climate, aquatic biota (fishes, freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates), and other relevant parameters from partner states into a database. Once the data are compiled, the postdoctoral researcher will use multiple biodiversity metrics to identify areas with high biodiversity in order to capture its multidimensionality. Proposed metrics include species richness (α biodiversity) and differences in community assemblages (β biodiversity) calculated at the major basin, state, and regional scales. Once metrics are identified, the postdoctoral researcher will use a statistical model, such as a multi-species occupancy model, and identify abiotic variables that influence aquatic biodiversity (e.g., streamflow, surficial geology, temperature, and land cover). Then, based on climate change projections and proposed management scenarios, the postdoctoral researcher will identify areas of high aquatic biodiversity in an effort to aid managers in making future decisions. The postdoctoral researcher will also coordinate monthly meetings with state partners, who will provide input on the project related to information sources, biodiversity metrics, and relevant management scenarios.

Essential Functions

Examples of duties:

  • Convene meetings with state partners (~monthly).
  • Translate CASC research pertinent to aquatic ecosystems and changing climate conditions, including climate projections across four northeastern states (NH, VT, MA, CT).
  • Gather and standardize data on aquatic biota (fish, freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates).
  • Calculate biodiversity metrics and create maps.
  • Identify abiotic variables to include in predicting aquatic biodiversity.
  • Develop a statistical model that predicts aquatic biodiversity based on abiotic variables.
  • Run various management scenarios to optimize aquatic biodiversity conservation.
  • Map alternate footprints of land protection and habitat restoration that optimize aquatic biodiversity conservation.
  • Identify areas of high aquatic biodiversity before and after applying climate change projections.

Other Functions

  • Work collaboratively and effectively to promote teamwork, diversity, equality and inclusiveness.
  • Work in partnership with colleagues within the CNS community and across the campus to support the Dean’s strategic priorities.
  • Perform other duties as assigned in support of the mission and goals of the College of Natural Sciences.
  • Minimum Qualifications (Knowledge, Skills, Abilities, Education, Experience, Certifications, Licensure)

  • PhD in ecology, biology, fisheries, mathematics, or related field.
  • Additional Details

    This is a one-year postdoctoral position with the possible extension to a second year depending on performance and funding. This position is located on the UMass Amherst campus.

    Please send any questions to the principal investigators:

    Work Schedule

    Monday – Friday 8:30am – 5:00pm.

    Salary Information

    Salary will commensurate with experience.

    Special Instructions to Applicants

    Submit a cover letter (see below for details), resume and contact information for three professional references. Apply by August 26, 2021 to ensure priority consideration. Search may remain open until a suitable candidate pool has been identified.

    The cover letter should be 300-600 words describing:

    • Your research interests and background
    • Why you are interested in this position
    • Your career goals
    • Your experience (if applicable) and/or enthusiasm for learning about each of the following areas:
    • Ecological knowledge related to:
    • Aquatic biota (fish, freshwater mussels, macroinvertebrates)
    • Stream/riparian ecology and fluvial geomorphology
    • Spatial/landscape ecology
    • Climate change.
  • Quantitative and computer skills related to:
  • Statistical modeling of count and presence/absence data
  • Multi-scale, multi-level data analysis
  • Building databases
  • Geographic Information Systems and spatial analysis
  • Project management skills related to:
  • Large project management
  • Working with stakeholders
  • As part of a commitment to their own multicultural community, CNS seeks an individual with a demonstrated commitment to diversity and one who will understand and embrace university initiatives and aspirations. (

    UMass Amherst is committed to a policy of equal opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, age, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, disability, military status, or genetic information in employment, admission to and participation in academic programs, activities, and services, and the selection of vendors who provide services or products to the University. To fulfill that policy, UMass Amherst is further committed to a program of affirmative action to eliminate or mitigate artificial barriers and to increase opportunities for the recruitment and advancement of qualified minorities, women, persons with disabilities, and covered veterans. It is the policy of the UMass Amherst to comply with the applicable federal and state statutes, rules, and regulations concerning equal opportunity and affirmative action.

    Advertised: Aug 2 2021 Eastern Daylight Time
    Applications close:


    The University of Massachusetts Amherst is one of the preeminent public research universities in America. Nestled in idyllic Amherst, Massachusetts—often called “The top college town in North America”—the campus is consistently ranked among the top public research universities in the nation, and offers a rich cultural environment in a rural setting close to major urban centers. 

    As one of the nation's top public research universities – as measured by national and international rankings, academic citations, and research funding – the campus spends more than $180 million on research each year, demonstrating its contribution to the nation’s position as a technological and economic leader. The university works in conjunction with academic, government, and private partners to translate new knowledge and scientific discoveries into technical innovations and scholarly works that create opportunities for students, faculty and the public. 

    Eight schools and colleges offer more than 85 undergraduate majors, 68 master’s and 48 doctoral degree programs, many counted among the top programs in the nation and world. UMass Amherst is also home to New England's premier honors college.

    The 1,159 full-time faculty members are dedicated teachers and world-renowned researchers and the campus has regularly been listed among the top performers in terms of faculty awards. With over 24,000 students from all 50 states and over 70 countries, the student body is the most academically successful in the history of the campus. Students participate in 240 organizations, 21 NCAA Division I athletic teams, extensive intramurals, living-learning residence halls, community service, and internships. With one of the largest residential life systems in the nation, UMass Amherst houses approximately 12,000 students on campus. The university is enjoying a facilities renaissance, including new buildings in the sciences, the arts, and recreation. UMass Amherst is part of the Five College consortium with Smith, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire and Amherst colleges.

    As an employer, the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a national leader in developing family-friendly policies, benefits and amenities designed to help faculty members develop both productive careers and satisfying personal lives. The university offers one of the nation’s most generous parental leave policies. The university is also part of the Academic Career Network, a regional consortium formed to serve dual-career couples and encourage greater diversity in the academy.


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