Yolanda MorbeyWestern Science

M.Sc. and Ph.D. Opportunities in the Morbey Lab

phenology, n. The field of science concerned with cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, esp. in relation to climate and plant and animal life. (OED)

Are you interested in pursuing novel research on phenology in wild populations of fish or birds? Do you want to become proficient at statistical methods in preparation for a career in academia, government, the non-profit sector, or industy? In my lab, we study the ecology, evolution, and behaviour of seasonal and life history timing in response to environmental variability. Most of the current projects in the lab focus on salmonid fishes and migratory birds. The projects we do are diverse, and usually involve a combination of field studies, captive studies, theory development, and statistical analyses. My students also have the opportunity to do integrative research with other faculty at Western.

I am always looking for highly motivated and dedicated students, and would consider new M.Sc. or Ph.D. students for a September 2016 start. M.Sc. students in my lab typically choose a well-defined project within my research program. Ph.D. students may do the same, or they may develop their own project that is related to my research program. Examples of past projects:

M.Sc. position on the early life history timing of introduced salmon in the Great Lakes. The goal of this project is to quantify phenotypic differences in fry emergence timing, yolk utilization rate, and growth rate due to differences in thermal regimes. Field collections will focus on three wild populations spanning the latitudinal range in Lake Huron. Fry will be collected (May-June) using a backpack electrofisher followed by measurements and dissections. Emergence timing and growth will be determined by counting the growth rings of calcareous structures in the ear (otoliths). Temperature data loggers will be used to quantify seasonal and diurnal variation in stream temperature in each stream.

Ph.D. position on the reproductive timing and resources allocation of introduced salmon. Salmon in introduced environments may show adaptive plasticity of reproductive timing in response to novel temperature regimes. To assess this hypothesis, A Ph.D. student is needed for a field study on introduced Chinook salmon in Lake Huron. The goal of the project is to relate reproductive lifespan to metabolic fuel use and reproductive traits (secondary sexual traits and gonads). Field research will focus on the early- and late-arriving components of Sydenham River population in southern Georgian Bay. Fish will be measured using non-invasive techniques and tracked from their arrival until their death. Fat content will be measured with a digital fat meter, metabolic rate will be measured using intermittent flow respirometry, and tracking will be facilitated by PIT tagging. Temperature data loggers will be used to quantify seasonal and diurnal variation in water temperature.

Qualifications: Applicants to the Morbey Lab must have an Honour's (thesis-based) B.Sc. or M.Sc. in ecology or evolution, extensive field experience, knowledge of ecological and evolutionary theory, excellent quantitative skills, a commitment to publishing their work, and a willingness to take on a challenge. For initial screening, please send a cv, unofficial transcripts, and a letter of interest to Dr. Yolanda Morbey (ymorbey@uwo.ca; Dept. of Biology, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada).