Terms needed: Summer 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019
Faculty mentor name: Sandy DeBano
BES Facility: HAREC
Location (town) of internship: Hermiston
Hourly Salary: $13 Expected hours/week: 40
Student may be asked to work on weekends or outside of 8-5.
Students may work more than 8 hours a day when doing fieldwork (but not more than 40 hours per week), or may start earlier than 8 AM or end later than 5 PM.
Are Housing Benefits included in addition to hourly salary? No
Student will be operating vehicles or farm equipment/machinery. Student will need to submit a driving background.
Healthy pollinator populations are not only important for natural systems, but they underlie the viability of much of US agriculture and its ability to feed growing populations, nationally and globally. Bees, both native and domestic, play a particularly crucial role in agroecosystems, pollinating crops that make up ~35% of the world’s food supply, with an estimated value of billions of dollars annually. They also play important roles in range and pasture lands; forbs and shrubs that form significant components of livestock forage often depend on bee pollination. With honey bees continuing to be affected by colony collapse disorder, enhancing habitat for native bees is becoming increasingly important. But effectively enhancing native bee habitat requires a better understanding of the complex relationship between bees and flowering plants. Bees forage on flowers for nectar and pollen, but relatively little is known about which plant species are most important as food sources. This project seeks to understand which plants are most important to native bees in eastern Oregon, so that producers and land managers will know which plants are best for enhancing native bee habitat.
The intern involved with this project will work on several studies focused on understanding which plants are important to native bees in three distinct areas: agricultural areas of Umatilla County, a forested system in the Blue Mountains, and in the Zumwalt Prairie in Union County. The objectives of the project are to:
1) use several techniques, including behavioral observations and collecting pollen from foraging bees that can be analyzed using DNA metabarcoding, to understand which plants native bees are using in these regions;
2) quantify the availability of floral resources in the field by surveying blooming plants; and
3) investigate how land use and human activity affect blooming plant availability.
The internship will involve both field and laboratory work. Field work may last all day and involve physical activities such as extensive walking to and among field sites while carrying up to 25 pounds of equipment, collecting bees and other insects using nets and other trapping techniques, and sampling plants and soils. It is anticipated that 50-70% of the intern’s time will be spent in the field and the remaining time in the laboratory. Most field work will take place at remote locations that involve staying in field station housing or camping for up to a week at a time. Laboratory work will consist of preparing insect specimens for identification (e.g., washing, drying, pinning, and labeling specimens), isolating pollen from bees and plants, helping to extract and amplify DNA, organizing insect collections, cataloging plant specimens, and entering data into Excel. The intern may also be involved in soil sampling and other field sampling methods necessary to characterize study sites. The intern can expect to learn or further develop existing skills in vegetation and soil sampling, bee sampling methods, laboratory techniques (including bee and plant preparation and preservation and DNA preparation), data entry and analysis, and presentation skills in the development of their final project. Although helpful, no previous experience with insects or plants is necessary. The intern must have a driver’s license.