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Internship Opportunity

Experimental Quantification of Life History and Ecological Processes Critical to Fish Populations

Posted on: 02/07/2019

Summary / Description

This project uses experimental methods to quantify the effects of environmental factors on success of early life-stages of marine fishes. Each year we are involved in new experimental studies that help fisheries scientists better understand and model processes important to fish population dynamics. Our primary focus is on processes that occur during the early life (eggs to young juveniles) of marine fishes simply because the vast majority of deaths and perhaps most natural selection occur at those ages. We employ a broad definition of ‘environmental factors’ to include physical variables (e.g., temperature, salinity), biotic variables (e.g., feeding regimes, predation risk), as well as genetic and non-genetic parental influences (e.g., maternal investment in egg size, parental care). We also quantify ‘success’ broadly to include rates of survival, growth, development, and metabolism; condition; and behavior of young fish. The typical protocol would entail the spawning of fish, implementation and application of treatment(s) (i.e., environmental factors) to embryos, larvae, and / or juveniles, and then identifying / developing metrics that are appropriate outcomes to measure in the context of study. We recently used two different species of flatfish to address questions concerning i) thermal effects on morphometric variation of larvae during ontogeny and ii) maternal influences on offspring quality. This project typically takes advantage of the synergism provided by concurrent activities in our research group that also use the same species. Candidate species for 2019 include summer flounder, winter flounder, Atlantic silverside, Atlantic killifish, and horseshoe crab. Response metrics of special interest this year are growth, development, metabolic and consumption rates, behavioral responses, and predation risk.

Skills Required

This project opportunity is for undergraduates. As part of our research team, your duties and responsibilities will include:

  1. Schedule permitting, participate in lab-wide open house for public (May 19, 2019) at which the student will join the group in providing oral summaries to public about the group’s research and the student’s expected role in lab research.
  2. Participate in weekly internship discussions on topics pertinent to independent and collaborative research, graduate school, presentation and professional skills, networking, and careers in science among others.
  3. Acquire spawning fish and/or fertilized fish eggs.
  4. Implement and maintain laboratory experiments on the effects of environmental factors (e.g., thermal, dissolve oxygen, CO2, and/or contaminants variations) on early life features of experimental fish including their growth, development, and survival.
  5. Collect, reduce, and summarize data on fish embryos, larvae, and juveniles from direct observations, digital images, and video tracking.
  6. Analyze data, prepare presentation material, and present a summary of project in July to staff.
  7. Support role in ongoing laboratory experiments and analyses. The student will work among other undergraduate and graduate students, research associates, and NOAA scientists.

Skills required:
Applicant attributes given preference in decision to offer hosting for summer at my lab:

  1. Majoring in biological, marine, or environmental fields; primary interest in ecology, evolution, life history, ecotoxicology, and/or quantitative methods.
  2. Prior research experience in any scientific discipline.
  3. On academic trajectory that very likely includes graduate school for M.Sc. and/or Ph.D.
  4. Willingness to work in the laboratory with some field collections of adults, prey, etc., all potentially requiring some irregularity in work schedule (e.g., early morning, late evening, and weekends as project dictates).
  5. Strong work ethic, detail oriented, organized, completes assignments in a timely manner, works well individually and as a member of a team, communicates clearly.
  6. Computer literacy - MS Office applications; image analysis software (training provided), experience with statistical programs encouraged but not required.


Highlands, NJ

Other Information

Intern Supervisor:
R. Christopher Chambers
Number of Slots Available:
Is free housing available:
Can international students be placed:


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