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Get involved in our research

From fieldwork to managing data, there are many steps associated with the research we conduct. Some of these tasks present a good opportunity for you to get looped, and to get an idea about what life as a graduate researcher is like. Check out any upcoming opportunities below. 

Global Environmental Change, Dr. Amanda Bates et al.

Climate change is transforming the structure of biological communities through the geographic extension and contraction of species’ ranges. Range edges are naturally dynamic, and shifts in the location of range edges occur at different rates and are driven by different mechanisms. This leads to challenges when seeking to generalize responses among taxa and across systems. The figure below focuses on warming-related range shifts in marine systems to describe extensions and contractions as stages, including a sequence of (1) arrival, (2) population increase, and (3) persistence, or by contrast (1) performance decline, (2) population decrease and (3) local extinction. This stage-based framework can be broadly applied to geographic shifts in any species, life-history stage, or population subset. Ideally the probability of transitioning through progressive range shift stages could be estimated from empirical understanding of the various factors influencing range shift rates. While abundance and occupancy data at the spatial resolution required to quantify range shifts are often unavailable, case studies conducted in this study illustrate how diverse evidence sources can be used to stage range extensions and contractions and assign confidence that an observed range shift stage has been reached. Read more about this study and its suggestions for future directions by clicking on the title above.


What will be expected of you? 

Undergraduate volunteers will be expected to be present on scheduled days to observe and record daily migration observations. Some light hiking may also be expected as there are two main locations for observations. Volunteers must have their own pair of binoculars, and those who can manage their own transport to and from the park will be favoured. For multi-day stays, students should provide their own camping gear (tent/bedding). While experience working in the field is an asset, we will teach you everything you need to know. 

What can you expect from us?

The Ocean Conservation Lab will have a camping plot for a portion of the observation period that you are welcome to stay on. We will provide you with camp meals during this period. 

What is the time commitment?

The overall sampling season might be as long as September 1st to October 31st, with peak migration occuring in late September/early October. Surveys will be conducted from 930am-430pm, and volunteers will be scheduled in a way that allows for class schedules and ensures a few days off. 

Get Involved!

Interested in lending a hand? Contact Cara Herrington, MSc student leading this research, at

Turkey Vulture Observation Program 


East Sooke Regional Park

Every fall, thousands of Turkey Vultures (TUVUs) congregate near East Sooke Regional Park. These TUVUs, who have spent the summer months on Vancouver Island, must now attempt to cross 20km of ocean to reach Washington and continue their migration south. As broad-winged soaring raptors, this water crossing presents a significant challenge.  These TUVUs congregate in East Sooke and wait for ideal weather conditions to safely make the crossing, but the exact weather conditions they rely on are unknown. This project will consist of daily ground observations to build up a strong data set of the dates and times that TUVUs embark on this crossing. This data set will then be compared to the environmental conditions that occurred at the same time. 

Terrestrial Predation in Intertidal Zones

This directed studies opportunity offers University of Victoria undergraduate students the chance to contribute to an exciting research project led by Zoe Penno, a Master’s student at the University of Victoria under the supervision of Dr. Amanda Bates (Ocean Conservation Lab, UVic) and Dr. Sarah Dudas (Marine Spatial Ecology and Analysis Section, DFO). The project focuses on investigating the interaction between marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the Barkley Sound region of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Using wildlife cameras strategically placed in intertidal zones, the study aims to explore the activity of terrestrial predators and their utilization of marine resources.


What will be expected of you? 

The student will assist with image annotation to facilitate data analysis and compile a report detailing the methods and efficacy of photo capture settings used in the study. Competitive students will have 1) proficiency in completing repetitive tasks with attention to detail, 2) basic computer troubleshooting skills, 3) competence in file and data management, including organization and maintenance, and 4) prior experience with annotation, Timelapse program, and/or MegaDetector software is an asset. 

What is the time commitment?

This directed studies project will take place from September - December 2024.

Get Involved!

Interested undergraduate students should send their CV and a brief statement of interest outlining their qualifications and motivation for the position to Zoe Penno at

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