Job Type: Student / postdoc
Salary Details: $2,300/month plus benefits (medical package has a 60-day waiting period) plus tuition and fees fully covered.
Deadline: Oct 31, 2023

Tamaulipan thornforest consists of >1,200 plant species and functions as habitat for roughly 58% of all bird and 40% of all butterfly species in North America, making it a biodiversity hotspot. However, <10% of the historic distribution of this vegetation community remains. Increased pressures from climate change and anthropogenic develop within the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) further threaten the remaining extent of this ecosystem. Previous restoration efforts have been met with limited scope or success, catalyzing the need to develop new and innovative strategies that maximize success with limited resources. We are seeking a dynamic, self-motivated Ph.D. student to conduct research on restoration strategies, targeted restoration planning, and human dimension challenges associated with Tamaulipan thornforest restoration in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, USA.

The successful candidate will determine 1) characteristics of plant functional trait diversity of remaining thornforest communities and compare these signals to restored plots through a chronosequence framework, 2) work with collaborating scientists focused on endangered species (ocelot) ecology to develop a novel thornforest restoration decision support system, and 3) integrate structured survey methods to determine knowledge structure within restoration programs for thornforests in the RGV. The successful applicant will also be encouraged to work with their graduate committee to develop one or more independent research questions within the umbrella of the study’s deliverables. This position is funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and will work with a highly collaborative team composed of scientists from the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute (, American Forests (, The Nature Conservancy ( and The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. The successful applicant will be co-advised by Drs. Evan Tanner and Ashley Unger.  We expect the student to present findings at international and regional scientific conferences and publish manuscripts in internationally recognized peer-reviewed journals. This is a fully funded 4-year position.

Qualifications Required:  B.S. and M.S. degrees in ecology, wildlife science, natural resources, range science, forestry, biology, or related fields. Prior experience restoration ecology and botany would be helpful but not required. Preferred: background and interest in applied restoration planning. Competitive applicants will have good quantitative skills and a track record of publishing. A strong work ethic, good verbal and written communication skills, ability to work independently and as a productive member of a research team, and ability to work under adverse field conditions are essential. Students must have a minimum 3.0 GPA (>3.5 GPA in graduate course work).


Application Deadline: We will begin reviewing applications beginning October 31, 2023 and will continue until suitable candidate is selected.

Start Date: January 2024.

To Apply: Application packet must consist of 1) cover letter stating interests and career goals, 2) resume or CV, 3) academic transcripts, and 4) names and contact information for three professional references.  Unofficial transcripts will suffice for application review but official transcripts will be required if selected.  Send the application as 1 PDF file via e-mail with a subject line of ‘Thornforest Restoration Ecology and Planning in the Rio Grande Valley’ to:

Dr. Evan P. Tanner

Meadows Endowed Chair of Semi-arid Land Ecology

Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, 700 University Blvd, MSC 218, Kingsville, TX 78363