[MARMAM] PhD opportunity - Characterization and modelling of recreational boating for beluga conservation

Clément Chion clementchion at gmail.com
Fri Aug 2 11:57:14 PDT 2019


Hi,

We are recruiting a PhD student to characterize and model recreational
boater in the summer habitat of the endangered St. Lawrence Estuary beluga
population.

The project is part of a broader research program aimed at proposing
effective solutions to mitigate the impacts of navigation on belugas in the
St. Lawrence Estuary (ongoing management process).

The full announcement is available at the end of this message.

PLEASE FEEL FREE TO FORWARD THIS ANNOUNCEMENT TO YOUR COLLEAGUES AND
CIRCULATE IN YOUR NETWORKS

Thanks and have a nice day!

Clément


Prof. Clément Chion <http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Clement_Chion/>,
PhD
Université du Québec en Outaouais (UQO)
Département des sciences naturelles
ISFORT <http://isfort.uqo.ca/nos_etudiants/clement-chion>
819-595-3900 poste: 1467
819-503-2539

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 *PHD SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY*

*Agent-based modelling of recreational boating in the St. Lawrence Estuary
and the Saguenay River (Québec, Canada) to mitigate their impacts on
belugas and baleen whales*





*Goal* : This project aims at developing a spatially explicit agent-based
model of recreational boating in the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay
River (Québec, Canada) to mitigate impacts such as underwater noise,
collision, and disturbance on the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga and baleen
whales populations.



*Description *: The St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population is currently
listed as an endangered species under the Species At Risk Act (Canada) and
the Act Respecting Threatened and Vulnerable Species (Québec). Other
endangered species frequently observed in the St. Lawrence Estuary include
the North Atlantic blue and fin whales. Several threats to the recovery of
these whale species are coming from the navigation activities occurring in
the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay River such as animal exposure to
underwater noise emitted by surrounding boats, disturbance/harassment, and
collisions. Such navigation activities as maritime shipping, ferries and
whale-watching excursions are well-documented largely due to AIS data.
However, recreational boating in the summer habitat of the St. Lawrence
Estuary Beluga is poorly documented with scarce data available. Moreover,
no methodology has been proposed so far to monitor recreational boating
activities and estimate their impacts on whales.



This project will first focus on making a quantitative portrait of
recreational boating in the summer habitat of the St. Lawrence Estuary
beluga population (thereafter referred to as beluga). This portrait will
include a characterization of the fleet, spatial distribution, temporal
variability, along with a description of the spatiotemporal dynamics of
boater excursions. This project will also allow to identify the main
archetypes of recreational boaters along with their decision-making models
that will be implemented in an agent-based model. The agent-based model
will be used to assess the cumulative impacts of recreational boating on
whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Saguenay River and propose
mitigation options. The model will also allow to project the impacts of
boaters’ eco-friendly behaviors on whales.



Throughout this project, the PhD student will propose and conduct several
data campaigns using different qualitative and quantitative methods to
collect data on various objects at different scales (e.g. remote sensing,
aerial surveys, GPS tracks, semi-supervised interviews, Q-methodology,
questionnaires…). First, the student will develop a methodology and deploy
it to characterize the fleet of recreational boats along with the
spatiotemporal dynamics of their excursions throughout the summer habitat
of beluga whales. Thereafter, the student will propose and implement a
method to characterize the behavior and the decision-making process of
recreational boaters at sea in order to define archetypes. For each
archetype of recreational boater, the student will thus propose a
conceptual model of behaviors and decisions including their interactions
with whales. The results of these inquiries will be implemented into a
spatially explicit agent-based model. The student will then elaborate a
validation procedure of the agent-based model of boaters’ behaviors.
Finally, the validated model of recreational boaters will be integrated
into a spatiotemporal simulator of boat-whale interactions in the Saguenay
River and the St. Lawrence Estuary. This simulator will be used to assess
the relative contribution of each navigation component to the overall
impacts on the St. Lawrence whales and to test the effectiveness of various
mitigation scenarios.



The ideal candidate will show dynamism, motivation, determination,
intellectual curiosity and creativity, ability to work independently and as
part of a team, along with a great sense of initiative. He/She will need to
travel regularly to the Saguenay and the St. Lawrence Estuary region for
data collection. He/She will be encouraged and supported to travel for
scientific communications (conferences, workshops), meetings with partners
and stakeholders. He/She will be part of a dynamic multidisciplinary
research team and will benefit from support for different parts of his/her
project. The project being funded by the Government of Quebec, the selected
candidate will be required to contribute to the production of deliverables
for various ministries.



*Requirements*: The candidate must possess a Master degree in Geography,
Environmental sciences or any discipline relevant to the project. He/She
must demonstrate relevant experience in modelling, statistics, and in the
use of qualitative methods (e.g. interviews). The candidate must
demonstrate proficiency in scientific communication (oral and written) to
experts and laypeople, including writing scientific articles and conducting
literature reviews, both in French and English. The candidate must
demonstrate a dedication to excellence supported by academic records making
him/her eligible to provincial and national scholarship competitions.



*Assets: *Experience in the following fields will be considered to be
assets:

- GIS, spatial analysis, and spatial statistics;

- Agent-based modelling;

- Cognitive psychology and study of human decision-making processes;

- Object-oriented programming;

- Software and programming language: R, QGIS, Java, Python.



*Start date*: January 2020



*Scholarship*: 25 000$/yr for 3 years



*Location : *Ripon (Québec, Canada)



*Director*: Prof. Jérôme Dupras (UQO-ISFORT)



*Co-director: *Prof. Clément Chion (UQO-ISFORT)



*Collaborators*: Group for Research and Education on Marine Mammals
(GREMM), University of Victoria, Parks Canada, Transport Canada, Fisheries
and Oceans Canada, Réseau d’observation des mammifères marins (ROMM).



*Application :*

·       Email your academic CV (long form), application letter (detailing
your skills and assets related to the project requirements), official
academic transcripts (Bachelor and Master), and the name and contact
information of 3 academic references to Pr. Clément Chion (
clementchion at gmail.com; clement.chion at uqo.ca), Pr. Jérôme Dupras (
jerome.dupras at uqo.ca), and Robert Michaud (rmichaud at gremm.org);

·       *Deadline*: *September 15th 2019*, or until the position is filled.
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