Summer REU and Field Technician Positions in Amphibian Ecology

March 24, 2015

The Maerz Lab at the University of Georgia is seeking applicants for up to three summer REU/Research Technician positions focusing on amphibian ecology and conservation.  Two positions are hourly summer technician positions, and one position will be an NSF-funded REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates).  Each position is described below.  Applicants for Positions 1 and 2 must be enrolled in classes for fall 2015.  REU applicants must be enrolled in classes for fall 2015 or immediate post-bachelors graduates.  Applicants may indicate interest for multiple positions, but must address the criteria for each position of interest.  Applications are due by 5PM on April 3, 2015; and final decisions on hiring are expected by April 17, 2015.

 

 

Position 1: Amphibian Conservation Technician, Athens, GA

 

Duration: June 01 – July 31, 2015 (not to exceed 9 weeks; exact start date is flexible)

 

Job Description: This position is based at the University of Georgia in Athens, GA under the direct supervision of Dr. John Maerz and his Research Coordinator, Mrs. Vanessa Terrell. This technician will assist on two projects: (1) habitat specific survival and microhabitat use of captive reared Carolina Gopher Frogs (Lithobates capito) at a restored Nature Conservancy site, and (2) assessing the field sensitivity and exposure of native tadpole species to an invasive cyanobacteria. Duties will include, but are not limited to, assisting with lab husbandry of captive reared and experimental tadpoles, measuring, marking, and radio tracking juvenile and adult gopher frogs, wetland sampling for tadpoles, conducting capture-recapture studies of released frogs in terrestrial release pens, scoping tortoise burrows for frogs, maintenance of in situ wetland tadpole enclosure study, and conducting laboratory tadpole feeding trials. Fieldwork will require regular overnight travel of 3–5 consecutive nights, nighttime fieldwork, and potential camping at the field sites. UGA fleet vehicles are provided for travel and lodging will be covered. Conditions will often be hot and humid, and the applicant should be confident in field conditions and able to tolerate biting insects. When not traveling, the student will work out of the Maerz Lab located within the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources.

 

To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in classes for the 2015 fall semester. The student will work a maximum 40 hours per week for a maximum of 9 weeks at an hourly compensation of $10 per hour.

 

 

 

Position 2: Salamander Ecology Technician, Coweeta LTER, Otto, NC

 

Duration: May 01 – July 31, 2015 (not to exceed 14 weeks; exact start date is flexible)

 

Now completing its 36th year, the Coweeta LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) is the southern Appalachian Regional LTER based at the US Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC. Coweeta is part of 26 NSF-funded LTER sites that serve as the largest, longest-running ecological network in U.S.

 

A major focus of the Coweeta LTER is the interactive effects of climate and shifting land use on montane forest ecosystems.  Climate is a fundamental factor shaping the distribution and abundance of organisms, and has the capacity to alter ecosystem processes via its affects on consumer diversity abundance. Southern Appalachia is a global hotspot for salamander diversity.  Salamanders are the most abundant vertebrates in forests and headwater streams, and they influence the abundance of invertebrates and key ecosystem processes including decomposition and nutrient cycling.  Salamanders are also highly moisture sensitive, and their abundance and associated influence on ecosystem processes is predicted vary with precipitation and soil moisture.

 

Job Description: This position is based at the Coweeta LTER. The student will have the opportunity to work side-by-side with scientists in the Coweeta Long-Term Ecological Research program on research projects in the Little Tennessee River basin in western North Carolina. The student will primarily work under the direction of Dr. John Maerz and two Ph.D. students assisting with several large-scale, long-term studies: (1) salamander demography across a hydroclimate gradient, (2) salamander demography and microevolution in an active hybrid zone, and (3) responses of stream salamanders to experimental removal of Rhododendron. Activities will include, but are not limited to, nighttime visual surveys for salamanders; nighttime capture-mark-recapture, which includes measuring and marking individual salamanders; maintaining long-term salamander removal plots and assisting in daytime sampling of invertebrate communities; daytime stream salamander sampling using leaf litter bags; and entering data and maintaining databases and field equipment.  Fieldwork will require significant hiking, often at night, in steep forested terrain, long periods of night work, and work within rocky streams with dense midstory vegetation; therefore, applicants should consider the physical demands of the work.

 

To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in classes for the 2015 fall semester. The student will work for a minimum of 12 weeks beginning in May and ending in late July, specific dates to be determined. Hourly compensation is $8 per hour for a maximum of 40 hours per week plus free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory. The student must live in residence at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC. Coweeta hosts a large number of resident researchers each year from a variety of academic institutions, creating a highly engaging opportunity to interact with people with diverse interests and backgrounds in an academic environment.  Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes.  The student is responsible for his or her own transport to the Coweeta LTER and for personal travel around the region.

 

 

 

Position 3: Salamander REU, Coweeta LTER, Otto, NC

 

Duration: May 01 – July 31, 2015 (exact dates are flexible, expectation is 10 weeks in residence)

 

The National Science Foundation funds a large number of research opportunities for undergraduate students through its REU program. REU Sites consists of groups of undergraduates who work in the research programs of the host institution. Each student is associated with a specific research project, where he/she works closely with the faculty and other researchers. Students are granted stipends and, in many cases, assistance with housing and travel. Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions. An REU Site may be at either a US or foreign location.

 

Now completing its 36th year, the Coweeta LTER (Long-Term Ecological Research) is the southern Appalachian Regional LTER based at the US Forest Service Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory in Otto, NC. Coweeta is part of 26 NSF-funded LTER sites that serve as the largest, longest-running ecological network in U.S.

 

Nature of REU Student Activities: Climate is a fundamental factor shaping the distribution and abundance of organisms, and has the capacity to alter ecosystem processes via its affects on consumer diversity abundance.  The steep montane forests of southern Appalachia are characterized by extreme spatial gradients in precipitation and soil moisture.  Southern Appalachia is also a global hotspot for salamander diversity.  Salamanders are the most abundant vertebrates in forests and headwater streams, and they influence the abundance of invertebrates and key ecosystem processes including decomposition and nutrient cycling.  Salamanders are also highly moisture sensitive, and their abundance and associated influence on ecosystem processes is predicted to vary with precipitation and soil moisture.  This REU student will work in residence and under the direct supervision of Co-PI Maerz and two Ph.D. graduate students to work on estimating patterns of salamander diversity, abundance, and fitness across an “expanded gradient” of precipitation and soil moisture within the Coweeta Basin. The student will assist in conducting monthly surveys of salamanders on 96 forest plots within the Coweeta Basin.  This will involve working with a team of researchers sampling salamanders within plots, identifying species, and measuring and aging individuals.  In addition, the student will work on a long-term salamander capture-mark-recapture study to estimate the effects of inter-annual weather variability on salamander growth, fecundity and survival.  The latter study is integral to ongoing work to create detailed demography models of salamander population responses to weather and climate change, and is being used to evaluate the potential for salamanders to serve as sentinels of climate change.   This work involves sampling salamanders on long-term plots over three consecutive nights each month and measuring and marking individuals, maintaining animal databases, and working with students to analyze data.  Beyond the focal work, this student will have opportunities to assist students in conducting our long-term salamander removal experiment and measuring invertebrate responses to reduced salamander abundance, and sampling stream salamanders and conducting larval experiments within a Rhododendron Removal study.

 

As part of this experience, the student will be expected to develop their own complementary line of research under the direction of Co-PI Maerz. The student will also be afforded time to assist other researchers at Coweeta, allowing the student to interact with a diversity of research faculty, graduate students, and technicians.  Coweeta hosts a large number of resident researchers each year from a variety of academic institutions, creating a highly engaging opportunity to interact with people with diverse interests and backgrounds in an academic environment.  The student will participate in the Coweeta LTER Summer Meeting and Research Symposium where they will have the opportunity to listen to professional research presentations from the breadth of Coweeta investigators and present their own independent research.  They will also participate in the Coweeta Intern Research Symposium.

 

Eligible applicants must be enrolled for Fall 2015 or immediately post bachelors.  Students who are interested in future graduate studies are particularly encouraged to apply.  The student will be afforded a budget of up to $1,500 to cover travel, materials, supplies and other field expenses. The student will receive a stipend of ~$650/week for a minimum period of 10-weeks between May 01 and July 31, 2015. In addition, the student will receive free lodging at the Coweeta LTER dormitory. The student must live in residence at the Coweeta LTER in Otto, NC.  Fleet vehicles are available for travel around study sites for research purposes.  The student is responsible for his or her own transport to the Coweeta LTER and for personal travel around the region.

 

Fieldwork will require significant hiking, often at night, in steep forested terrain, long periods of night work, and work within rocky streams with dense midstory vegetation; therefore, applicants should consider the physical demands of the work.

 

 

 

Application Process

Students interested in positions should submit a cover letter, 1-2 page resume, and a list of 2-4 references (including contact email and phone numbers).  For each reference, please indicate the nature of your relationship.  Cover letters should clearly indicate each position for which you wish to be considered, and should address your specific interests in each project; relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments; and how you envision the position contributing to your future career interests.  Women and students from traditionally underrepresented groups including Native American are encouraged to apply.  The University of Georgia is an equal opportunity employer, and all applicants will be given fair and equitable consideration.

 

Please email all materials as a single PDF file with your last name included in the file name.  Email your application to Dr. John Maerz at jcmaerz@uga.edu and copy Vanessa Terrell at vkinney@uga.edu. Applications are due by 5PM on April 3, 2015; phone interviews are expected to take place between April 13-16, and final decisions on hiring are expected by April 17, 2015.

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