Vicksburg National Military Park is best known as a memorial to the American Civil War Battle of Vicksburg in 1863. Because of its size, over 1,700 acres, and its nutrient dense soils, it is also home to a variety of organisms. Alanna Bond worked at the site not to explore its history, but the rich diversity of euarthropods, a group of invertebrates that includes centipedes, millipedes, and chelicerates, such as mites and ticks. Euarthropods can help to pollinate plants, aerate the soil and provide natural pest control. At the same time, they may be vectors of disease, agricultural pests, and contribute to forest depletion.
Alanna collaborated with the team at the park, virtually, to help examine the species of eurathrapada that are in the park, to learn how they are indicators of environmental health in the Mississippi Delta, and to engage the public in learning about them.
Though she was not able to travel to the park, Alanna could manage eurathrapada surveys remotely. She oversaw the documentation of eurathrapads in the park, and she used iNaturalist, a citizen science app, to track the species that have been recorded. She used the data from iNaturalist to develop a pamphlet that will serve as an insect guide for visitors.
This brochure describes the different types of eurathrapada and provides information about how and why they should be protected.
In addition to learning about insects and public education, Alanna also appreciated the mentorship provided by supervisor and biologist Charles Beightol. He provided her with one-on-one training that has made her more comfortable reviewing scientific articles, improved her scientific
writing, and helped her to prepare a personal statement.
Tania Parra joined the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area team to continue her work studying bats as a Master of Science student in Environmental Science and Technology at California State University, Fullerton. The park has been studying bats since 2016, when it joined the North American Bat Program to learn more about bat populations in the park. Tania spent long days in the backcountry deploying acoustic recorders and surveying habitats. She was responsible for analyzing the data gathered to build an occupancy model and to create a species
distribution map. Armed with information about what bat species are in the park and where they are located, the park can work to protect their habitats.
Although Tania’s research focused on bats, she took the opportunity to learn about the local flora during the long backcountry forays into the desert scrub, piñon-juniper woodlands, and semidesert scrublands. She aspires to work for the National Park Service as a conservationist and values the opportunity to work alongside park scientists.
” I am interested in this program because it gives me the opportunity to work alongside NPS scientists. The Direct Hire Authority certificate will help me further my career with the Park Service. In addition, I believe this is a great opportunity to network with other scientists in the Mosaics in Science program.” – TANIA PARRA
Working outdoors is a top priority for Cory. He appreciates the opportunity to see and experience something new every day. This desire is what led him to Mosaics in Science and to his interest in working for the National Park Service.
This is Cory’s second internship with Mosaics in Science, and he returned to study the impacts of microplastics on freshwater ecosystems and bats. He began his work by conducting a literature review to examine prior research on microplastics in this ecosystem. He then connected this to records of bat distribution across the United States. Finally, he reviewed how microplastics can be transferred from freshwater ecosystems to bats, through field sampling of sediment, water, and aquatic invertebrates. By also studying guano, the study will help researchers
understand if the insect populations on which bats forage are a source of plastics.
Cory identified some of the common bat species in the park, including Big Brown Bat, Hoary Bat, and the Eastern Red Bat. Water samples from various sources were analyzed to identify the quantity and types of microplastics present. This information will help biologists determine if microplastics from the water are moving through the food-chain and into the bats’ diets. If so, could these microplastics be impacting bat behavior,
reproduction, foraging, and ultimately survival? The results of Cory’s project will have implications not only for bats, but also for other insect eating wildlife.