Biological Science Technician

Grand Canyon National Park
Published
December 4, 2020
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Since the 1980s, Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) have suffered grave declines as population size has plummeted from 4.5 million in the 1980s to fewer than 30,000 individuals in 2019. In 2014, these drastic declines prompted a petition to the USFWS to list monarch butterflies under the Endangered Species Act, and a decision on federal protection will be released on 12/15/2020.

Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA) and the Colorado River occur along with a critical monarch butterfly (hereafter referred to as ‘monarchs’) migration flyway and offer host plants (i.e. Milkweed) that are essential for monarch survival. Unfortunately, this once common and widespread butterfly species is suffering severe population declines, and immediate action is needed to prevent species extinction.

This project will enable an LHIP intern to advance monarch butterfly conservation efforts by converting degraded land (e.g., roadside and trail corridors) into favorable monarch habitat by establishing milkweed and other nectar-rich plant species. The intern will engage the public in monarch conservation efforts through citizen science, resource stewardship, and by sharing information at a 1/2 day pollinator festival. The intern and mentor will share project results by developing and publishing a manuscript.

PROJECT GOALS

  1. Improve park and public understanding of the distribution and phenology of monarchs and milkweeds in GRCA by entering milkweed locations and monarch sightings into the Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper (https://www.monarchmilkweedmapper.org/).
  2. Advance monarch conservation efforts by establishing milkweed and other nectar-rich plant species at two high visitor use locations on the South Rim. Habitat creation tasks will include native seed collection, plant propagation, out-planting, and irrigation.
  3. Increase public awareness and engagement in monarch conservation by partnering with the park Volunteer Coordinator to engage the public in citizen science (i.e. Western Milkweed Monarch Milkweed Mapper), resource stewardship (i.e. seed collection, plant propagation, out-planting), and natural history.
  4. Increase public awareness and engagement in monarch conservation by assisting park staff in hosting a 1⁄2 day pollinator festival during National Pollinator Week.

Increase monarch conservation awareness amongst the National Park Service and the public by developing and submitting a manuscript for potential publication in NPS IMR Crossroads in Science.

PARK/PROGRAM NEEDS THAT WILL BE MET

This project will enable the intern and park to contribute to GRCA Strategic Plan (2021 – 2025) Goal 1: Hire and Develop our Workforce: I.2.c; and GRCA Strategic Plan Goal 2: Expand Science and Data Gathering, Strategic Plan Link: III.2.a. This project will enable the intern and park to complete critical monarch conservation actions described in the WAFWA Western Monarch Butterfly Conservation Plan (2019).

DUTIES/TASKS/DELIVERABLES

  1. Collaborate with the Internship Supervisor/Mentor and Volunteer Coordinator to engage volunteers in citizen science data collections (i.e. Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper) and resource stewardship (i.e. seed collection, plant propagation, and out-planting).
  2. Assist park staff with planning and conducting a 1⁄2 pollinator festival during National Pollinator Week. Research and share information on how Mexican traditions are connected to the monarchs’ fall arrival in Mexico.
  3. Share project results (i.e. oral presentation) and recommended management actions with park decision-makers at a GRCA SRM Program Managers meeting.
  4. Co-author an article highlighting this project for potential publication in NPS IMR Crossroads in Science.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  1. Collaborate with identified park staff to complete the tasks described above.
  2. Meet weekly with the internship supervisor/mentor to develop leadership and critical thinking skills.
  3. Be safe, learn new skills, and have fun!

This position is offered through the National Park Service's Latino Heritage Internship Program in partnership with Environment for the Americas.

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