Dinosaur National Monument

Science Communication and Resource Monitoring Intern  -  Jensen, UT

This internship will provide opportunities to observe, develop, and practice science communication strategies through a multidisciplinary project that combines interpretation/education with invertebrate research at Dinosaur National Monument (DNM).

The interpretation/education component of the internship focuses on researching, developing and presenting interpretive programs that integrate citizen science into the visitor experience. Interpretation at DNM includes well established programs to communicate topics of geology, paleontology, and dark skies to a variety of audiences, especially children. This internship will include participating in the established interpretive schedule of providing visitor services and public programs at the Quarry Visitor Center, Quarry Exhibit Hall, and Campgrounds alongside other interpretive staff. This internship will also include developing new interpretive programs or products that support a new natural resource study on two butterfly species that begins in 2019.

The natural resource monitoring and research component of the internship focuses on a status assessment of two butterfly species of concern, the monarch and Great Basin Silverspot butterflies. The intern will be responsible for conducting field surveys at DNM designed to collect baseline data on monarch and silverspot butterfly occurrence and habitat preference. Standardized citizen science-based protocols will be used for milkweed and nectar plant surveys, egg and larvae, and adults surveys, and tracking parasitism and survival. The intern may also be made available to assist other local agencies with similar data collection as requested.

The primary final product will be the submission of all project data to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to inform listing considerations under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) via the citizen science-driven Integrated Monarch Monitoring Program.

Other final products include a summary report of monarch and silverspot activity for DNM resource management archives and a presentation of findings to partners and staff. Additionally, an opportunity to co-author a peer-reviewed paper on the western monarch population may exist in cooperation with Southwest Monarch Study following the internship.

Background on Monarch and Great Basin Silverspot in DNM

The monarch is a currently proposed to be listed as a federally “threatened” species under the ESA. As such, the USFWS is gathering data on the monarch’s range, population numbers, habitat, breeding success, and threats.

While monarchs in the eastern United States are well understood, less is known about monarchs west of the Continental Divide. Of specific interest is understanding where western monarchs migrate to for the winter and what route they take. DNM represents the easternmost portion of the western monarch’s range. DNM has partnered with Southwest Monarch Study in 2017 to learn more about the species’ occurrence both in the monument and in the Uintah Basin in general. DNM is a lead partner in a regional effort of federal, state, and local agencies dedicated to pollinator conservation and education of the local community, with a focus on monarchs.

The Great Basin Silverspot butterfly is also under consideration for protected status under the ESA in 2021. Little is known about the silverspot’s biology and habits, but it has been documented in DNM in the recent past during an informal survey.