02 Dec Science Communication and Resource Monitoring Intern
Website Dinosaur National Monument
This internship provides opportunities to observe, develop, and practice science communication strategies through a multidisciplinary project that combines interpretation/education with invertebrate research at Dinosaur National Monument (DNM). The interpretation/education component of the internship focuses on researching, developing, and presenting interpretive programs that integrate citizen science into the visitor experience. Interpretation at DNM includes well-established programs to communicate topics of geology, paleontology, and dark skies to a variety of audiences, especially children. This internship will include participating in the established interpretive schedule of providing visitor services and public programs at the Quarry Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall, and Campgrounds alongside other interpretive staff. This internship will also include developing new interpretive programs or products that support a natural resource study on pollinators that began in 2019.
The natural resource monitoring and research component of the internship focuses on a status assessment of pollinators, in particular monarch butterflies and bumblebees. The intern will be responsible for conducting field surveys to collect baseline data on monarch butterfly and bumblebee occurrence and habitat preference. Surveys will occur at both established/designated plots and in “opportunistic” plots at both DNM and the greater Uinta Basin. Standardized citizen science-based protocols will be used for milkweed and nectar plant surveys, egg and larvae, and adult surveys, and tracking parasitism and survival. The intern will be paired with other dedicated pollinator interns and seasonals provided by the Bureau of Land Management (Vernal Field Office) and U. S. Forest Service (Ashley National Forest) to assist other local, federal, and state agencies with similar data collection as requested. The intern may also have the opportunity to collaborate in person on pollinator monitoring and outreach projects with other LHIP interns also studying pollinators at other NPS locations. Past examples of joint projects include published articles, public butterfly tagging events, habitat restoration, and school presentations. The primary final products will be the submission of observation, tagging, and parasite data to Utah Division of Natural Resources (via Utah Pollinator Partnership app), Southwest Monarch Study (https://www.swmonarchs.org/) and Project Monarch Health (https://www.monarchparasites.org/). Other final products include a summary report of monarch and bumblebee activity for DNM resource management archives and a presentation of findings to partners and staff. The monarch is currently listed as “warranted but precluded” under the Endangered Species Act. DNM continues to collect information on monarchs in the Uintah Basin to provide the USFWS data on the monarch’s range, population numbers, habitat, breeding success, and threats in preparation for upcoming species status reviews. Very low monarch wintering and breeding numbers in 2020/2021 remains a cause for concern and underscores the need for continued trend monitoring. While monarchs in the eastern United States are well understood, less is known about monarchs west of the Continental Divide. Of specific interest is understanding where western monarchs migrate to for the winter and what route they take. DNM is located in the easternmost portion of the western monarch population’s range. DNM began limited monitoring of monarchs in 2017 as a result of a new partnership with Southwest Monarch Study. A comprehensive monitoring program began in earnest in 2019 with the award of an LHIP intern for the last four years. This 2023 internship will continue the foundational work completed since 2019, with the possibility to expand surveys to more locations throughout eastern Utah, the Uinta Basin, and on private lands.