Natural Resource Management Assistant

Natural Resource Management Assistant

Website Christiansted National Historic Site

The Mosaics in Science Internship Program seeks to engage ethnically and racially diverse young professionals in natural resource careers.

Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

**All Mosaics in Science interns are required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination**

Stipend: $600/week + housing

Start Date: 05/09/2022

End Date: 09/26/2022

Project Description:

Corals, just like humans, can catch diseases. White-band coral disease was first described at St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), in 1977. Since then, over 30 coral diseases have been reported in the Florida and Caribbean region. We answered the challenges of these coral diseases through collaboration with local, regional, and other federal agencies. Our collaborators included NOAA, The Nature Conservancy, Mote Marine Lab, and the University of the Virgin Islands.

We have made major strides in coral disease management in Southeast Region parks because of our research on pathogens, treatment methods, and disease spread. Nevertheless, the Caribbean may now be facing its greatest threat: stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD). SCTLD was first observed in St. Thomas, USVI, in January 2019 at Flay Cay. The disease has since spread across most reef systems in St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix, and into the waters of the national parks.

This disease is especially worrisome, because it affects many of the important reef-building corals in the Caribbean. SCTLD spreads much faster than other coral diseases, affects more species of corals, and is more lethal than any other known coral disease. Pre-existing treatment methods were not efficient or effective enough to keep up with the spread of this pathogen.

Shortly after the disease was observed on St. Thomas, a working group of local organizations came together to discuss how to combat it. We discovered that applying antibiotics to the corals is effective in in-water treatments. The current focus of the working group (now referred to as the Strike Team) is disease intervention, but the Strike teams are still actively exploring and evolving treatment methods to prioritize sites and coral species. NPS in St. Croix is now considered its own Strike Team, focused on the corals within park boundaries. Since the development of a consistent team of NPS-staff and NPS-volunteer divers in June 2021, NPS has treated over 400 corals and currently fate track over 40 individuals. However, the NPS team remains small focused on treating as many corals as possible. This project would assist with focusing efforts to improve success of the treatments.

Project Description and Intern Responsibilities: The SIP Mosaic Intern, with guidance from NPS resource managers, will accomplish the following during Summer 2022:
1) Use peer reviewed publications, NPS archives and gray literature to create a literature review of past and present coral diseases within park boundaries and the management actions employed by the park to mitigate or manage the diseases.
2) Review long term coral monitoring studies/data conducted within park boundaries to focus intervention efforts on preexisting priority sites. Develop a cost/benefit analysis to narrow identified priority sites to those where intervention will be the most successful.
3) Using data collected on tagged corals at priority sites around Buck Island Reef National Monument and Salt River Ecological Preserve, the SIP intern will provide NPS staff with an analysis of lesion progression and fate track at the lesion and colony level. This data can also be used to inform success of treatments at the community level.
4) Participate in disease intervention through in-water treatments, providing surface support to coral disease intervention teams and/or organizing and schedule intervention divers.
5) Interpret the results and disseminate project findings by: 1) Preparing results to be included in park Natural Resource Condition Assessments (NRCAs) 2) Working with local agencies (including NPS, USFWS, and DPNR) to incorporate findings in Territorial intervention and Action Plans; 3) Presenting in local community seminars.
6) Assist the local NPS Education and Outreach coordinator with implementing a program that connects local under-represented K-12 students in the USVI, with scientists / resource managers. This program will be modeled after the “Scientists in Every Florida School” program.
SPECIAL NOTE: Depending on the continued persistence of COVID and travel restrictions during Summer 2022, the project has been designed so the Intern can complete these tasks remotely, if necessary. Alternative work plans have been developed if the field work component is not achievable (see additional notes).


Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Biology (or related field)-preferred, but would accept a student currently enrolled in a undergraduate program
Required coursework (at undergraduate and/or graduate level): Biology, ecology, statistics

  • Data analysis and scientific writing
  • Must demonstrate experience in data management and analysis
  •  Education / outreach experience with K-12 and undergraduate students
  • Competent without supervision; must demonstrate proficient experience in science communication to local communities
  • Management of large datasets (some experience preferred, but not necessary)
  • Development of education / outreach programs (some experience preferred, but not necessary)
  •  In-water experience conducting in-water research, snorkeling, scuba or swimming -highly recommended, but not required
  • Applicant MUST have a valid US drivers license and a good driving record
  • Industry recognized Scuba certification-preferred, but not required

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