20 Nov Fire Ecology Assistant
Lava Beds National Monument (LABE) encompasses a unique geologic environment of volcanic upheaval, both above and below ground. During the summer of 2020 the Caldwell Fire burned approximately 70% of the monument. Little to no scientific research has been conducted on post-fire impacts to cave resources. Planned research to be conducted in our caves will guide future fire management protocols in cave rich areas. Specifically, these interns would be assisting with collecting in-cave water and biological samples for researchers, conducting surface volcanic feature inventories that would include photo documentation, and conduct vegetation monitoring at cave entrances to establish post-fire baseline data. They will assist with documenting changes to ice floors in ice caves throughout the monument. Documentation may include mapping of caves and establishing measurement and photo-monitoring sites within the caves. Furthermore, LABE works in conjunctions with the NPS Klamath Network Inventory & Monitoring Program (I&M) to conduct long-term monitoring of cave resources at the park. Much of the monitoring and research work the interns will conduct will be guided by established protocols that are part of our I&M monitoring work. These I&M protocols include collecting data on cave climate, entrance vegetation, invertebrates, visitation, organic input and ice deposition. After initial training, the intern will work within a team of two or more to execute long-term monitoring and post-fire monitoring activities following standard operating procedures and protocols. This will include activities such as project planning and logistics, deploying and retrieving climate data loggers and human visitation logs, setting and checking cave invertebrate bait stations, conducting transects on cave entrance vegetation and scat deposition, and monitoring of ice floors and features. The interns will also learn about data management and analysis through activities such as entering and quality checking data, use of Access databases, and summarizing and reporting annual activities and data. The interns will also assist with bat and pika monitoring; both species of interest due to the potential impact of the Caldwell Fire. Bat monitoring will include white-nose syndrome (WNS) detections, and implementation of the park’s WNS response strategy. Through this diversity of cave and post-fire research and monitoring experiences, interns will learn about study design, long-term monitoring, methods for studying cave environment, flora and fauna, safe caving practices, field navigation, park operations, and resource management in general.