News2017-09-19T14:07:50+00:00

News

1211, 2018

Field Assistant position available

November 12th, 2018|

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biological Sciences (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking a Field Assistant to assist with research studying the spatial distributions of bird and bat species at landscape scales.

The Kitzes Lab is currently placing autonomous acoustic recorders throughout landscapes in western Pennsylvania to record ambient sounds. This data is then processed to identify the species present near each recorder and their relative activity levels, which we analyze to determine the factors that influence where organisms are found and why.

The primary responsibilities of the field assistant will include, but are not limited to:

  • Assisting graduate students in the deployment and retrieval of acoustic recording devices in the field, which are used to study spatial distributions of bird and bat species
  • Assisting in processing the data collected by these recorders.

Training will be provided, and applicants may have the ability to expand tasks to include greater responsibilities.

This position is available initially for one year, with an extension for a second year available pending a positive first-year review. We may be able to provide flexibility in work hours and location, if requested by applicants.

For more information, and to apply for the position, please visit https://www.pittsource.com/postings/175646.

1810, 2018

First major deployment

October 18th, 2018|

by Lauren Schricker, PhD student

After weeks of preparation involving the entire lab—shout out to our undergrads Lydia and Kyle for weeks of tirelessly programming hundreds of units—Lauren and Tessa have deployed nearly 200 AudioMoths along a 20km transect in Sproul State Forest, located in north-central Pennsylvania. (For more about the history and significance of this study site, check out Lauren’s recent blog post!) This is our first major transect and we are excited to get some data to play around with through the winter!

Nearly 200 AudioMoths were strapped to trees along a ridge in Sproul State Forest. All photos by Lauren Schricker.

Our current set-up involves a sandwich bag and a desiccant pack to prevent moisture from reaching the AudioMoth hardware. It’s resourceful, low-cost, and seems to work for now, but we are exploring options for creating weatherproof cases for the AudioMoth. Nothing can save the AudioMoths from Pennsylvania winters, though—we don’t think they’ll survive freezing temperatures. They’ll return to the lab before the first frost, which we can probably expect sometime in November.

If our two-day trip along the transect was any indication, we can expect to hear a multitude of species on the recordings. While we are specifically only listening for birds at this time, we saw three young black bears within minutes of arriving in the forest. We heard tons of songbirds as well as Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse. Most excitingly, as we paused to let some white-tailed deer cross the road, a barred owl was spooked into flying a little closer to us. Although the deer startled her, we seemed to pique her curiosity, and we spent about a half an hour checking each other out! Can you spot her in the photo below?

She’s just to the right of the biggest tree in the middle, about halfway down the trunk, staring straight into the camera! Will we manage to find her or any of her conspecifics on the AudioMoth recordings? Stay tuned to find out!

 

209, 2018

Welcome Lauren!

September 2nd, 2018|

Lauren Schricker is joining the lab this semester as our first grad student! She’ll be mostly running our large scale bird survey field projects, while also joining in many of our other lab interests. Like many of us around here, Lauren has a diverse and interdisciplinary academic background, with a B.S in Geology (Allegheny College) and a P.S.M. in Environmental Management and Sustainability (St. Edward’s University). You can read more about Lauren on her personal website. Welcome!

2808, 2018

Welcome, and thanks, undergrads

August 28th, 2018|

A very belated welcome, and simultaneously a thank you, to the undergrad researchers in our lab from this past spring and summer

  • Aaron Lauer (Pitt, Biological Sciences) assisted with a literature review on the species-area relationship
  • Madoc Smith (Pitt, Mathematical Biology) worked on a Raspberry Pi-based streaming audio recorder
  • Lydia Zimmerman (Pitt, Biological Sciences) has been helping us with our field deployments of audio recorders
  • Tanvi Merengenti (Carnegie Mellon) worked with us on our OpenSoundscape classification software, and several other projects
  • Jack Challiet (University of Chicago) helped us with annotation of our bird song recordings

Thanks to everyone, and good luck! (Except for Lydia, she’s still here…)

1603, 2018

Welcome Tessa!

March 16th, 2018|

Tessa Rhinehart is joining the lab as our new Research Programmer. She’ll be working mainly on our bird call classification algorithms and software, and also helping out with our field surveys and other lab projects. Tessa comes to us via Swarthmore College, where she was an undergraduate Mathematics and Biology major – she also happens to be quite the birder. Welcome Tessa!

1711, 2017

Research Programmer position available

November 17th, 2017|

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Biological Sciences (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking a Research Programmer to assist with research studying the spatial distributions of bird and bat species at landscape scales.

The Kitzes Lab is currently placing autonomous acoustic recorders throughout landscapes in western Pennsylvania to record ambient sounds. This data is then processed to identify the species present near each recorder and their relative activity levels, which we analyze to determine the factors that influence where organisms are found and why.

We are seeking an experienced data analyst and programmer to support the development of algorithms and software to identify the species present in these recorded sound files, as well as to assist with the placement and retrieval of recorders in the field.

Competitive applicants will have several, though not necessarily all, of the following skills:
– Experience programming in Python (or a similar language), and the ability to rapidly learn new languages and techniques, as needed.
– Experience working with development tools and platforms such as GitHub, Docker, and Amazon AWS.
– Experience with machine learning and/or classification methods.
– Experience with statistical modeling, including mixed models and/or Bayesian analysis.
– Experience working in Unix/Linux environments.
– Experience with Raspberry Pi’s, UDOO boards, or other single board computers.
– A working knowledge of the principles of audio recording, amplification, or analysis.
– The ability to walk up to three miles on uneven terrain.
– Strong verbal and written communication skills.

This position is available initially for one year, with an extension for a second year available pending a positive first-year review. We may be able to provide flexibility in work hours and location, if requested by applicants.

For more information, and to apply for the position, please visit https://www.pittsource.com/postings/148476.

3110, 2017

Postdoc position in spatial ecology

October 31st, 2017|

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking a Postdoctoral Associate to join our lab. Our lab studies species diversity and distributions in human-altered landscapes, primarily using methods drawn from spatial macroecology. Our goals are both to answer fundamental questions about how species organize themselves in space and to inform the practice of conservation in fragmented landscapes.

Our lab is currently involved in both theory-based and field-based projects, and the Postdoctoral Associate will work on at least one of these in addition to potentially developing independent, related projects. Our current theoretical work involves investigating the relationship between spatial scaling metrics, such as the species-area relationship, and point process models. We expect these to lead to new predictions of species turnover patterns as well as multivariate scaling metrics that will predict species diversity in patchy landscapes. Our field projects use autonomous acoustic recorders, placed throughout western Pennsylvania, to study the factors that control bird and bat distributions at landscape scales and to provide data to test our theoretical models. A major portion of this research involves developing algorithms and software to identify the species that are present near each recorder from many terabytes of recorded sound files.

We are seeking applicants with experience in spatial ecology, macroecology, conservation biology, avian ecology, statistics, machine learning, ecoinformatics, and/or data science. Competitive applicants will have programming skills in Python, R, or a related language, and experience with ecological modeling and/or statistics.

The salary for the position will be $47,476 per year (which goes a long way in Pittsburgh). The initial appointment will be for one year, with funding available for a second year pending a positive first year review. Postdoctoral Associates at Pitt also receive benefits including health insurance, access to libraries and recreational facilities on campus, free access to public transit, and paid vacation days.

Interested applicants should send an email ([email protected]) that includes (1) a cover letter describing your interest in this position, prior research, and plans for future research, (2) your CV, (3) the names of three references, and (4) a writing sample. Review of applications will begin in early December and will continue until the position is filled.

The start date for the position is flexible, and applicants may join the lab any time between January and June of 2018. Review of applications will begin in early December and will continue until the position is filled.

Please see our lab website (http://kitzeslab.org) and the website of the Department of Biological Sciences (http://www.biology.pitt.edu/) for more information about the department, other faculty and students, the university, and the city of Pittsburgh.

3110, 2017

PhD positions in spatial ecology

October 31st, 2017|

The Kitzes Lab at the University of Pittsburgh (http://kitzeslab.org) is seeking up to two Ph.D. students to join our lab in the Fall of 2018. Our lab studies species diversity and distributions in human-altered landscapes, primarily using methods drawn from spatial macroecology. Our goals are both to answer fundamental questions about how species organize themselves in space and to inform the practice of conservation in fragmented landscapes.

Our lab is currently involved in both theory-based and field-based projects, and incoming Ph.D. students are invited to work on either of these or to develop their own projects along related themes. Our current theoretical work involves investigating the relationship between spatial scaling metrics, such as the species-area relationship, and point process models. We expect these to lead to new predictions of species turnover patterns as well as multivariate scaling metrics that will predict species diversity in patchy landscapes. Our field projects use autonomous acoustic recorders, placed throughout western Pennsylvania, to study the factors that control bird and bat distributions at landscape scales and to provide data to test our theoretical models. A major portion of this research involves developing algorithms and software to identify the species that are present near each recorder from many terabytes of recorded sound files.

We are seeking applicants with interests in spatial ecology, macroecology, conservation biology, avian ecology, statistics, machine learning, ecoinformatics, and/or data science. Competitive applicants will also have prior experience, though not necessarily formal training, in programming (any language), ecological modeling, or other quantitative research methods.

The department provides competitive financial support for graduate students that includes a stipend, full tuition remission, health insurance, and free access to public transportation (http://www.biology.pitt.edu/graduate/financial-support). Students admitted to the graduate program have typically been offered 5 years of guaranteed support, with at least one year free of teaching responsibilities. Depending on students’ interests and skills, up to an additional two years of research support may be available from our lab.

Applications are due by January 3rd, but interested applicants should contact Dr. Kitzes during the fall term. Please send an email ([email protected]) that includes a few paragraphs describing the type of work that you are hoping to do for your dissertation and why you are interested in our lab in particular, as well as your CV.

Please see our lab website (http://kitzeslab.org) and the website of the Department of Biological Sciences (http://www.biology.pitt.edu/) for more information about the department, other faculty and students, the university, and the city of Pittsburgh.

1909, 2017

Welcome Kyle!

September 19th, 2017|

Kyle Walters is joining the lab as an undergraduate researcher for the fall term of 2017. Kyle is a mathematics major who will be investigating a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) approach to predicting population growth. Welcome Kyle!

508, 2017

See You at ESA 2017

August 5th, 2017|

Justin will be at ESA 2017 in Portland this coming week, and will be speaking on Thursday, at 3:40 pm, Oregon Convention Center D138, on A spatially-explicit stochastic process model predicts scaling in species aggregation: Relating the quadrat count distribution, Taylor’s Law, and birth-death-immigration models. Yes, it’s a somewhat technical talk, but probably not as technical as it sounds. He’ll describe a new spatial reformulation of a classic stochastic population model that provides a simple explanation for a widely observed scaling pattern, Taylor’s Law. Justin will use this finding to argue for a second scaling law that can be used as the basis for projecting sampled species-area relationships across large spatial scales.

If this sounds interesting, or even if it doesn’t, please feel free to stop by and say hello!