Coastal Biologist

Job Locations
US-MS-Moss Point
Type
Regular, Full-Time
Job Category
Land Stewardship
ID
2020-4433
City
Moss Point
State/Province
MS

Overview

Now in its second century, Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Audubon’s mission is engaging people in bird conservation on a hemispheric scale through science, policy, education and on-the-ground conservation action.  By mobilizing and aligning its network of Chapters, Centers, State and Important Bird Area programs in the four major migratory flyways in the Americas, the organization will bring the full power of Audubon to bear on protecting common and threatened bird species and the critical habitat they need to survive.  And as part of BirdLife International, Audubon will join people in over 100 in-country organizations all working to protect a network of Important Bird Areas around the world, leveraging the impact of actions they take at a local level.  What defines Audubon’s unique value is a powerful grassroots network of nearly 500 local chapters, 23 state offices, 41 Audubon Centers, Important Bird Area Programs in 50 states, and 700 staff across the country.  Audubon is a federal contractor and an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

 


 

Position Summary

Mississippi’s coastal birds and marine turtles are either in decline, threatened, or endangered.  There is a need to start to monitor for nesting marine turtles to understand utilization of Harrison County’s beaches as well as to protect marine turtle and bird nests from potential threats including routine maintenance of the beaches such as raking or renourishment.  This position will report to the Program Manager of the Audubon Mississippi Coastal Stewardship Program. 

 

The position will monitor for beach-nesting and stranded marine turtles and liaise with the appropriate agencies and organizations for species conservation and management; assist with monitoring for beach-nesting birds and liaise with the appropriate agencies and organizations for species conservation and management; assist with state and federal permits related to beach renourishments and construction projects on Harrison County beaches; and initiate and support a working group with a focus on birds and turtles that includes conservation partners and natural resource managers to foster communications among practitioners, inform best management practices, and seek and secure funding for future on-the-ground projects. 

 

The successful candidate will act as a liaison with the MS Harrison County Board of Supervisors, MS Harrison County Sand Beach Authority, state and federal agencies charged with wildlife and coastal management, and other stakeholders with interest in Harrison County’s beaches. 

 

This is a full-time, grant-funded position through 2021 with possibility of extension with subsequent grants.

Essential Functions

Biological Assessments & Stranding Response:

  • Conduct daily beach surveys to monitor turtle nesting and hatching emergences; post and protect nests from predators; and report sea turtle crawls and nests to applicable agencies.
  • If deemed appropriate, locate turtle egg chamber and mark nests for evaluation and document turtle nest success through post-emergence nest inventories.
  • If deemed appropriate, facilitate collection of biological samples.
  • Respond to and report stranded sea turtles in accordance with NOAA’s Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network protocols; remove and/or transport sick or injured animals to appropriate stranding rehab partners.
  • Identify, pre-post, and report Least Tern and Black Skimmer nests to all applicable agencies.
  • Report and respond to depredations, over washes, or other events that negatively impact turtle and/or bird nests.
  • Identify and develop coordinated turtle and/or bird surveys to satisfy federal agency requirements; perform wildlife surveys as indicated by project specifications and permits, regulations, and management plans.
  • Report stranded marine mammals to Mississippi’s designated National Marine Mammal Stranding Network partner, Institute for Marine Mammal Studies.
  • Respond to potential environmental disasters and identify needed environmental data in wake of disasters.
  • Maintain assigned field equipment.

Reporting & Permitting Process:

  • Assist Harrison County with state and federal permits and subsequent compliance reporting related to beach renourishments, construction projects, and other projects as assigned. 
  • Track and analyze County response for wildlife management. 
  • Review and comment on planning and environmental compliance documents including species related impacts.

Outreach:

  • Provide educational information to the public about field activities including outreach promoting conservation and discouraging disturbance of coastal wildlife.
  • Develop and maintain a professional working relationship with Harrison County Board of Supervisors and Sand Beach Authority, local communities, beach visitors, the general public and other persons through in-person, electronic, and telephone communications to anticipate possible and to resolve emerging human-wildlife conflicts.
  • Provide expertise to Harrison County on restoration, enhancement, and resiliency of coastal habitats.
  • Work to build and promote a responsible environmental ethic within Harrison County and local communities.

Program Development:

  • Initiate and support a working group that includes conservation partners and natural resource managers to foster communications among practitioners, inform best management practices, improve understanding around permitting, and promote implementation of and help secure funding for future on-the-ground projects.
  • Support conservation planning to develop natural resource management, resiliency, and restoration projects.
  • Cultivate and maintain productive working relationships with internal and external stakeholders including other Audubon offices and chapters, state and federal agencies, other non-governmental organizations, and community and government leaders.
  • Assist state, regional, and national communication and outreach staff to develop and deliver compelling messages, releases, publicity and reporting about the project, both verbally and in writing.
  • Other duties may be assigned.

Qualifications and Experience

  • A Master’s degree from an accredited four-year college or university in biology, ecology, marine science, coastal management, geology, environmental science, wildlife management/biology, or a related field highly preferred.  A Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited four-year college or university and two years of applied conservation work will be considered.
  • 2+ years of applied field science experience is required, with demonstrated success monitoring for nesting turtles (1+ year).  Additional experience monitoring beach-nesting birds preferred.  
  • Working knowledge of coastal resilience and adaptation issues surrounding coastal and estuarine habitats including coastal wetlands, dredge-spoil, sandy beach, etc.
  • Ability to think strategically and creatively, while managing multiple tasks, meeting deadlines and operating in a dynamic, fast-paced environment.
  • Strong organizational and relationship-building skills, excellent attention to detail.
  • Excellent interpersonal, written and communication skills, and ability to work as part of a team. Must have a collaborative nature.  Comfort with public speaking and a demonstrated ability to explain complex technical/scientific information in an understandable way to a general/non-technical audience.
  • Willingness to work long hours, sometimes alone, in harsh field conditions (sun, heat, cold, biting insects, wading in water or mud) with or without accommodation.
  • Willingness to work evenings and weekends as the job demands and be available for overnight travel as needed.
  • Ability to perform tasks requiring physical exertion, in the outdoors, in all weather conditions and on difficult terrain, with or without accommodation, while maintaining a positive attitude.  Ability to lift and carry equipment (e.g. wood posts, rope, etc.) while traversing sand with or without accommodation.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop collaborative relationships with key partners and interested stakeholders, such as community and natural resource agency personnel.
  • Must have a valid Driver’s License.

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