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Dr. Nicola Koper

Dr. Nicola Koper

Assistant Professor
Natural Resources Institute
70 Dysart Rd
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Canada R3T 2N2
Tel.:(204) 474-8768
Fax:(204) 261-0038
E-mail: koper@cc.umanitoba.ca

Potential projects, information for students, and summer jobs

Student funding

I strongly encourage students who are qualified, to apply for scholarships such as NSERCs (www. nserc.ca) and University of Manitoba’s UMGF program (apply through Natural Resources Institute). In addition, students who do not have NSERC scholarships but do have marks averaging A- over the last 2 years of their study, have a good chance of getting an Industrial NSERC scholarship, assuming we can find a funding partner. Let me know if your marks are in this range. All students should also review awards at www.studentawards.com and should apply for any competition they are eligible for. Some small, poorly advertised awards have few or no applicants in some years, and there are many funding opportunities available. Note that many deadlines for scholarships are almost a year before the anticipated start of the graduate program.

Almost all students at the NRI who do not have scholarships are funded by research grants, or other sources of funding, by the beginning of their second year. Whenever it is possible, it is a better option for those students who do not have scholarships to have a research project in place at the beginning of their degree program. I am also willing to work with highly qualified, enthusiastic potential students to apply for grants to support themselves and their research.

Potential projects for students

Sometimes students bring their own ideas for research, and I am willing to supervise those students and help them in searching for funding. Other students may not have specific ideas regarding their research topics. The following projects provide examples of the types of research I work with. I occasionally look for additional students to fill a funded graduate position in one of these categories; additional side-projects are often available. Please contact me if you are interested in this type of research.

Conservation in Grasslands National Park of Canada

Adaptive management grazing study

Conservation of native grasslands is difficult, as grasslands depend on disturbances such as grazing and fire, which are no longer present in Grasslands National Park. A long-term (10+ year), adaptive management, large-scale, experimental grazing study is being initiated in Grasslands National Park, to contribute to our understanding of rangeland ecology and park management. The study is based on a powerful BACI (Before/After, Control/Impact) design, and before-treatment surveys were conducted in 2006 and 2007. In 2008, cattle were introduced to 6 native pastures (there are an additional 3 ungrazed, control pastures) at various stocking rates. Changes in vegetation structure and communities, invertebrate communities, amphibian, ground squirrel and bird distributions, will be monitored at 10 permanent monitoring stations per pasture. There are many opportunities for students to involve themselves in this project, particularly if focusing on birds in uplands. Other areas directly associated with this project that have good opportunities for funding include ecological integrity, species at risk, and ecological monitoring.

The theoretical context of this research involves landscape ecology, disturbance hypotheses, environmental heterogeneity, grazing ecology, spatial scales, multi-species management, and indicator and surrogate species.

For more information, please see our website, www.grazingbiodiversity.org.

Fragmentation of tall-grass prairies in Manitoba

More than 99% of the tall-grass prairies native to Manitoba have been lost through habitat conversion. Our research indicates that further losses and degradation of the tall-grass prairie remnants that remain has occurred over the last 2 decades. Prairie birds may be very sensitive to the characteristics of the remnants that remain, due to the extreme degree of habitat fragmentation that has already occurred. We are interested in effects of prairie size, shape, and matrix type on use of individual prairie remnants by birds.

Summer jobs

  • TBA

I anticipate that several summer job positions will be available each year. I welcome applications from students interested in working on some of my research projects, and encourage students to come talk to me before applying. Interviews will generally be in February or March each year.

I strongly encourage students considering graduate work with me, to apply for summer positions on my research projects. This will give us an opportunity to get to know each other while the student earns an income. It will also give the student an invaluable opportunity to learn about study design and possibly the study area they will be working in, serving as a preliminary field season for their research.

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