Field Biology Intern


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – Fremont, CA
Apr. 4, 2011-Jan. 20, 2012

As an intern at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, I worked at all 7 NWRs in the Complex, but my main duties took place at the Salinas River, Antioch Dunes, and Ellicott Slough NWRs. I also served as acting biologist for Salinas River (SRNWR) and Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuges (ESNWR) during a hiring transition. I was responsible for surveying and monitoring various threatened and endangered birds, amphibians, insects, and plants (primarily the Western Snowy Plover, Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, Lange’s metalmark butterfly, Antioch Dunes evening primose, and Contra Costa wallflower). I also prepared USFWS reports of annual endangered species surveys and updated existing Access databases.


- Conducted bi-weekly monitoring surveys for threatened Western Snowy Plovers including: reading color bands (size 1B), interpreting and recording behaviors, nest searching, monitoring brood movement, recording fledging dates, and noting the presence and behavior of predators
- Conducted avian predator surveys to monitor hunting behavior of predators of Western Snowy Plovers
- Conducted bi-weekly behavioral surveys for breeding populations of American Avocets and Caspian Terns that nest in coastal dunes
- Conducted bi-weekly survey of shorebirds at a saline pond on SRNWR; identified and counted shorebirds
- Worked with U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services to minimize effects of predation on nests and birds
- Coordinated and implemented symbolic fence construction and removal with Refuge maintenance staff to protect nesting habitat

Occasional duties:
- Led a two-person team as part of annual San Francisco Bay-wide Pacific Flyway shorebird surveys, as part of regional efforts to track trends in bird numbers
- Participated in audio playback call count surveys along sloughs and airboat surveys around tidal marshes for California Clapper Rails, Virginia Rails, and Soras
- Trained in the set up and use of mist nets to capture, extract, and handle songbirds such as California towhees and house finches


- Conducted dip netting and seining surveys for Santa Cruz long-toed salamander, California red-legged frog, and California tiger salamander larvae, juveniles, and adults in ephemeral ponds

- Conducted walking transect surveys for Lange’s metalmark butterfly

- Conducted walking transect surveys for Antioch Dunes evening primose and Contra Costa wallflower

- Directed volunteers in native species reintroduction to habitat restoration sites and participated in endangered plant species reintroduction
- Collected native and endangered plant seeds; propagated endangered plants for habitat restoration efforts
- Implemented invasive weed management efforts through use of invasive plant management techniques, including manual and mechanical removal
Occasional duties:
- Assisted with invasive plant surveys on the Warm Springs unit of the DESFBNWR
- Assisted Point Reyes Bird Observatory staff in vegetation transect surveys to measure progress of restoration plots on levees; identified species and estimated percent cover
- Mapped invasive plant species using a Weed Inventory and Monitoring data dictionary on GPS units
- Participated in GPS training workshop for staff and volunteers on how to use GPS units, map features and navigate to pre-existing point locations

Other occasional duties:

- Prepared and deployed Sherman traps in critical habitat for ongoing Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse surveys
- Trapped, handled, processed and released non-target small mammal captures at San Pablo Bay NWR as part of long term surveys tracking population trends over time and to assess impacts of tidal marsh restoration
- Assisted students from Moss Landing Marine Labs in the capture, handling, transport, processing (including urine sample collection), and release of harbor seals

Fish and invertebrates
- Participated in dip-netting surveys for endangered vernal pool tadpole shrimp at the Warm Springs unit of Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR (DESFBNWR)
- Assisted researchers from University of California, Davis in collecting data on fish and invertebrates collected from otter trawls; identified and counted species

The San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex is a collection of seven National Wildlife Refuges (NWRs). (Click to view a larger image.)

San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex -

Supervisors: Rachel Tertes and Susan Euing (Wildlife Biologists), Diane Kodama (Refuge Manager), Joy Albertson (Acting Supervisory Wildlife Biologist)

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