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Coastal Ecology Research supporting Ecosystem-Based Management (ME)

Summary / Description


The Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (Wells NERR) is part of the NOAA NERR system.  We promote research, education and stewardship to support ecosystem-based restoration and management of estuarine and coastal environments.  We are seeking an intern to join our research team during the 2016 field season. You will focus on one or two projects, in consultation with Wells NERR Research staff prior to your arrival.  You will have the opportunity to participate in other projects too, depending on your interests and project needs.

  1. Nekton Larval Community Dynamics – ongoing monitoring of larval fish and zooplankton species diversity and abundance in the Reserve’s WebhannetRiver estuary. Weekly sampling with plankton net and sample processing and ID back in the lab.
  2. Wading Bird Salt Marsh Indicator Survey – ongoing monitoring of top-predator wading birds as indicators of salt marsh ecological health; individual birds (herons, egrets, ibis) are identified and mapped at high tide throughout the Reserve’s salt marshes 2-4 times weekly.
  3. Marine Invasive Species Monitoring– Ongoing monitoring of marine Invasive species as part of the Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC). Monthly sampling at three distinct habitat types; Rocky Intertidal, Docks, and tidepools, for Presence and Abundance of 24 targeted marine invasive species.
  4. Assessing Diadromous Species Population Structure and Movement– Students will work with WNERR researchers to identify diadromous fish species utilizing the Branch Brook estuary as a migratory pathway during spring and summer spawning periods, track anadromous life history through isotopic analysis, and track the movements of select species through the use of Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagging.
  5. Vegetation Transect Monitoring to aid Sentinel Site Development – Students will work with Reserve staff to designate and maintain long term vegetation transects in the Webhannet and Little River marsh systems. Students will help id vegetation in the field, collect data on stem height, density, and community type, as well as help with data entry and archival.
  6. Population Dynamics of the invasive European Green Crab – Student will assist in trapping green crabs at 1-3 sites along the southern Maine coast in a continuing effort in understanding what drives green crab populations in our estuaries. Work includes deploying and retrieving crab traps, counting, measuring, weighing all specimens caught. Also data entry and archival.

Skills Required

Academic background should be in natural science (i.e. biology, chemistry or allied discipline). We expect earnest interest and basic scientific skills (independent thinking, following protocols, attention to detail, and ability to collect, document and manage data) but no specific training for these internships. Interns must be prepared for the physical challenges of field work in marsh-estuarine, rocky intertidal, and stream habitats.

Other Information

Internship Location: NOAA/Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wells, Maine.

We are located on the Southcoast of Maine (, not far from Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME. Our 200-acre campus is located adjacent to 2000 acres of protected salt marsh and estuary, and 67 square miles of coastal watershed (Little, Webhannet, Ogunquit Rivers), that provide many of our study sites. Comfortable on-site accommodations with cooking, dining, common and study space are available free of charge as part of our internships.

Intern Supervisor: Jeremy Miller / Number of slots available: 1

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