Millions of bats live in national parks and they are important to functioning ecosystems. Bats eat beetles, moths and mosquitos, including forest and agricultural pests. They rest in snags, talus, cliffs and buildings during the day and use excellent eye sight and echolocation to navigate the night skies. Bats fascinate visitors. Some migrate, and some hibernate. Each species is unique, except that they're all facing threats of some kind in their environments, including diseases and pollution. The intern will be a key member of the Mount Rainier wildlife crew with primary duties supporting our bat monitoring and white-nose syndrome (WNS) surveillance program.
The intern will be trained to conduct field-based surveys for bats by conducting emergence counts at bat colonies and acoustic monitoring to identify species, assisting with bat captures to screen for WNS, and evaluating the diet of bats at known colonies to determine 1) if microplastics are present in wetland habitats where bats are foraging, and 2) if bats are consuming and accumulating microplastics from insect prey.
The intern will be responsible for coordinating an established research project in collaboration with university partners evaluating bat guano as a tool for surveillance and early detection of the fungal pathogen that causes the disease white- nose syndrome, and if additional stressors, such as microplastics, may be affecting the fitness of bats that are vulnerable to WNS. Specifically, the student’s research project will focus on monitoring bat populations over time at known maternity colonies, coordinating volunteers to assist with emergence counts, and evaluating bat guano and wetland habitat for the presence of microplastics. This includes an opportunity to work in Dr. Betsy Bancroft’s laboratory at Gonzaga University to learn to identify microplastics that may be present in wetlands and emerging insects which serve as prey for bats, and evaluate microplastic accumulation in organisms of different trophic levels (i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary consumers; for example, Diepens NJ and AA Koelmans. 2018. Accumulation of plastic debris and associated contaminants in aquatic food webs. Environmental Science and Technology 52: 8510-8520.). The intern may also assist with additional wildlife program work, including bird banding at our constant-effort MAPS station and rare carnivore surveys.
The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent legal resident (“green-card-holder”) between the ages of 18 and 30 years old, of diverse background, or a veteran up to age 35. Prior to starting this position, a government security background clearance will be required.
This is a DHA position.