The upper Bay of Fundy and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence support many salt marshes and mudflats (i.e., soft-sediment habitats). This is not typical of Atlantic Canada, where the dominant habitat is usually rocky shore. Salt marshes and mudflats are highly productive habitats containing important food webs, provide nursery and feeding habitat for birds and fish, and provide essential ecosystem services such as nutrient transport and coastline protection. Salt marshes are also carbon sinks as well as help maintain healthy water by the microbial processing of organic and inorganic wastes. In Atlantic Canada, there is now strong interest in restoring salt marshes, which have in the past been converted to farmland. There is also much interest in conserving mudflats, which have long been refueling/feeding grounds for migratory shorebirds, particularly in the upper Bay of Fundy.
The intern will work on a number of projects on the ecology and restoration of salt marshes, and the ecology and conservation of mudflats. Our projects involve both independent work that can be supervised remotely, as well as lab and field work as part of a research team; the balance between those two types of work will depend on what is allowable in the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the coming months. We have data and samples from restoration and experimental projects that have to be processed and analysed, as well as sites to monitor if possible in the coming summer and fall. The intern will gain experience in a combination of the following: (i) successional dynamics of developing salt marshes (in the field and from aerial photographs), (ii) successional dynamics as mudflats recover from disturbance (processing samples under dissecting microscope, which we can provide for remote work at home); (iii) ecological linkages between salt marshes and mudflats (processing of samples and data analysis); and (iv) use of seeds and seedlings of the marsh engineering species Spartina alterniflora in the restoration of salt marshes (collecting samples and independent processing of samples).
Our research lab has studied salt marsh and mudflat community ecology for over two decades, and we now have good data on species compositions, seasonal and yearly variation, and many samples on the response of these ecosystems to disturbance. We have observed that these ecosystems are quite resilient to various disturbances (e.g. tidal amplitudes, winter disturbance, shorebird visits, breaching of agricultural dikes), and have of late been conducting experiments and sampling programs to test this observation. We also want to identify ecological linkages between the two systems (such as outwelling of plant detritus from salt marshes which may feed the food web on mudflats) that may contribute to their resilience. The intern will contribute to all of these projects.
Tâches et responsabilités
The intern will process samples using a dissecting microscope (mudflat samples), herbarium and photographic images (salt marsh plants), and computer software (aerial photographs). As well, the intern will manage and analyse large data sets on mudflat and salt marsh dynamics, research the scientific literature, and assist in writing reports and papers. If possible (following the appropriate safety guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic) between June and October, the intern will sample salt marshes by quantifying densities and state of plants, development of S. alterniflora seeds, invertebrates, and salt pool fauna (including fish), will photographically monitor focal patches of salt marsh plants, and will assist in sampling biofilm and microbial eukaryotes on mudflats.
Connaissances et compétences
We seek an intern with a background in biology, ecology or environmental science. A college diploma or university Bachelor’s degree in one of these fields is required. Previous field research experience would be an asset so that the intern better understands how field samples are collected. Applicants should have a strong interest in ecological research, and be happy to work irregular hours in the field under variable conditions (if field work becomes possible). Skills required include: ability to work outdoors for extended periods (possibly); ability or willingness to learn to identify invertebrates, minnows, birds and salt marsh plants; computer literacy, including ability to work with spreadsheets and prepare reports; ability to use a dissecting microscope; excellent attention to detail and record keeping; ability to follow set research protocols; ability to work independently and collaboratively with others.
College graduate diploma or university Bachelor’s degree in Biology, Natural Resources, Environmental Science or related field.
If field work is possible: valid driver’s license; First aid/CPR (training will be available if the applicant lacks this).
Les Stages lancement de carrière sont financés par le gouvernement du Canada dans le cadre de la Stratégie emploi jeunesse. Pour des renseignements sur les critères d’admissibilité du programme visitez leur site Web.
Les stagiaires admissibles :
- Sont étudiants ou diplômés d’un programme postsecondaire
- Sont âgés de 30 ans ou moins au début du stage
- Sont citoyens canadiens, résidents permanents ou détenteurs du statut de réfugié au Canada*
- Sont légalement autorisés à travailler en vertu des lois et règlements provinciaux et fédéraux applicables
- Ne reçoivent pas de prestation d’assurance-emploi pendant le stage
- Sont disponibles à travailler pendant au moins six mois
- N’ont pas déjà participé à un programme fédéral d’emploi pour les jeunes
- N’ont pas été employés par l’employeur avant le début du stage (ne s’appliquent pas aux placements ou stages étudiants antérieurs)
*Le statut de réfugié doit être conféré aux termes de la Loi sur l’immigration et la protection des réfugiés. Les personnes en attente du statut de réfugié et celles qui détiennent un visa de séjour temporaire, visa d’étudiant ou permis de travail, ne peuvent participer à une initiative de la Stratégie emploi jeunesse.