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Behavioral Responses of White-tailed Deer to Heat Stress

Behavioral Responses of White-tailed Deer to Heat Stress

Position Description: Extremes of heat and drought are known to affect growth and development of livestock.  Less is known about the effects of hot climates on wildlife, or how wildlife respond to heat stress.  In south Texas, the hottest times of the year (June–September) coincide with demands of reproduction and growth, physiological activities that also generate body heat.  For instance, peak lactation for does occurs during July–August, while bucks accumulate fat reserves during August–September to sustain them through rut.  Lactation and accumulation of fat require extensive foraging efforts.  Ruminant animals generate heat during fermentation of plant material, and may be reliant on shade and water to help ameliorate heat stress; it is likely that deer also shift feeding activities to night to avoid heat loads.  Ranching is the primary land use in much of rural Texas; many ranches support both deer and livestock, and there is potential for competition for shade and water use.  In addition, not all shade is equal in quality, as the angle of the sun changes during the day and not all shady areas allow access to wind, which can provide extra cooling.  Therefore, the juxtaposition of foraging areas, shade, and water may have an important influence on how deer can use the landscape during the hottest part of the year.  Animal response to heat should be considered in south Texas, especially due to the widespread use of brush control and presence of livestock.  Management that considers heat limitations may avoid the destruction of critical shade resources or  create refuges from heat once the ideal vegetation composition is understood.  This study will determine how deer use shade, water, and change their behavior to avoid heat stress, and determine if deer and livestock compete for shade resources and under what conditions.

Location: Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, located in Kingsville, TX. Kingsville is surrounded by the historic King Ranch and is about 40 miles south of Corpus Christi, TX.  Field portion of the project will be conducted on private lands in the south Texas region.

Qualifications Required: B.S. and M.S. in ecology, wildlife science, biology, or closely related field.  Applicants must have a strong work ethic, good verbal and written communication skills, and the ability to work independently and as a productive member of a research team.  Applicant must be able to work under adverse conditions (unpredictable weather, long hours).  Good interpersonal skills are required to work closely with diverse group of biologists, cooperators, and private landowners.  Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA and competitive GRE scores.  Prior experience with large mammals, GIS skills, or resource selection would be helpful but not required. Preferred: background and interest in ecology of large mammals, animal behavior, or resource selection. Males aged 18 through 25 must be properly registered with the Federal Selective Service System to be eligible for employment. Texas A&M University-Kingsville is committed to excellence; the University invites applications from all qualified applicants. EEO/AA/ADA

Stipend/Salary: $2,000/month plus benefits (medical package has a 60-day waiting period).  Non-resident tuition is waived; tuition assistance provided to cover resident tuition cost.

Start Date: Summer or Fall semester 2018 

Application Deadline: Begin reviewing applications immediately and will continue until a suitable candidate is selected.  To apply, send via email a single PDF file that includes: 1) a cover letter stating interests and career goals, 2) resume or CV, 3) transcripts, 4) GRE scores, and 5) contact information for 3 references to:

Dr. Randy W. DeYoung 
Research Scientist and Associate Professor
Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
700 University Blvd, MSC 218 
Kingsville, TX 78363
phone: (361) 593-5044

Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK) enrolls approximately 8,000 students. The Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences grants B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Wildlife Science. The Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute is a research unit of the university with 20 professors/scientists, 50+ graduate students from around the U.S., and numerous support staff. TAMUK is located in Kingsville, TX, a city of approximately 26,000 in south coastal Texas. Kingsville is surrounded by the historic King Ranch and is located about 35 miles south of Corpus Christi, TX (population over 300,000).

Texas law requires that males 18 through 25 show proof of compliance with Federal Selective Service law in order to be eligible for employment. Selected candidate must pass a pre-employment background investigation to be hired for this position. EEO/AA/ADA

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