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Post-doctoral Fellowship in Landscape Ecology

Posted on Feb 3, 2020 by in The OFI Blog |

Center for Conservation and Sustainability

Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

EXTENDED Deadline for submitting applications: February 7, 2020


Location: Center for Conservation and Sustainability, Smithsonian National Zoo/Conservation Biology Institute, Washington, DC and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay

Duration: 1-year fellowship, with possible extension to 2 years

Stipend: $50,400 annually and health insurance stipend



CCS works with industry partners to integrate conservation needs with development priorities to sustain biodiversity. CCS 1) promotes science-based approaches to sustainable infrastructure development through transformative partnerships; 2) leverages Smithsonian expertise; 3) transfers skills and knowledge to build capacity; 4) builds and sustains the long-term presence in high-biodiversity land and seascapes that is required to institutionalize sustainable infrastructure practices.

In Paraguay, CCS has been collaborating with ITAIPU Binational since the 1990s. Located in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest region of Paraguay and Brazil, ITAIPU is the largest hydropower facility in South America and the second largest in the world. In 2017, CCS formed a partnership with IB Paraguay to establish an in-situ and ex-situ conservation project in the Upper Parana Atlantic Forest, given the rapid expansion of deforestation in the ecoregion where only 9% of the original cover remains. The project involves an in-situ strategy based on a Biodiversity Monitoring and Assessment Program (BMAP) evaluating the status and trends of flora and fauna in eight protected areas managed by IB in Paraguay. The ex-situ strategy involves implementing best practices for animal care, enrichment, training, nutrition, and reproduction at ITAIPU’s Wildlife Conservation Research Center. By 2022, a new animal exhibit will be constructed, and facilities will be renovated to support captive breeding programs for species of conservation concern. The future re-introduction of species of conservation concern depends on the conservation, landscape restoration, and protection of the eight protected areas and the Itaipu Biosphere Reserve. This Reserve, managed by IB, covers an area of 1,047,438 hectares and includes 14 districts in the Departments of Alto Paraná and Canindeyú within the watershed of the IB reservoir.

Position Description

The Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute’s Center for Conservation and Sustainability (CCS) is seeking a highly motivated post-doc in Landscape Ecology to develop a connectivity strategy and to identify wildlife corridors in the ITAIPU Biosphere Reserve. The position will involve working with the CCS and IB research teams to conceptualize, design, and develop a connectivity strategy leading to scientific and technical publications. The results of this study will inform multiple stakeholders and policy makers on the strategies and best practices to improve landscape connectivity and facilitate the movement of wildlife populations. The fellow’s work will contribute to safeguarding corridors for these animals. The fellow is expected to lead scientific and technical publications and is expected to split the time between Washington, DC and Cuidad del Este, Paraguay.

The fellow will develop independent research focused on suitable methods or models to identify wildlife corridors. General research steps expected to be carried out by the fellow include:

1. Corroborate the limits of the research area

2. Develop a regional land use and land cover map

3. Establish collaborations with multiple stakeholders for data collection and future corridor implementation

4. Plan and organize stakeholder workshops to select focal wildlife species

5. Compile data from existing sources on selected focal wildlife species

6. Delineate natural landscape blocks or core areas

7. Determine wildlife preferences within the landscape (based on expert opinion, scientific information, ocurrences, movement, genetic data, etc.)

8. Model wildlife movement across the landscape (e.g. least-cost, current-flow, etc.)

9. Prioritize linkages

10. Identify key areas for conservation and restoration

11. Develop with local stakeholders a connectivity strategy including best practices to improve landscape connectivity and restore ecological integrity within the study area


The successful applicant will have: 1) a PhD in landscape ecology or a related discipline; 2) three to five years of experience working in landscape ecology as applied to conservation and the ability to synthesize and organize a broad array of remotely sensed and GIS data; 3) experience conducting stakeholder and expert consultation processes and engaging diverse audiences (e.g. government officials, NGO’s, research centers, local community members, etc.); 4) a strong publication record; 5) excellent oral and writing communication skills in English and Spanish; and 6) strong organizational and project management skills. The fellow is expected to spend approximately 50% of the fellowship period in Washington, DC and Cuidad del Este, Paraguay.

How to Apply

Applicants should email: 1) a 2-page letter of interest detailing qualifications for the position, 2) a curriculum vitae (4 pages maximum), and 3) contact information for three professional references (name, institution, title, email address, phone number; to be contacted after the interview process) to Ana María Sánchez-Cuervo: Please include “Post-doc in Landscape Ecology application” in the subject line of the email.