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Winter Break Internship: Investigating the impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef associated biodiversity



Description: Coral reefs are the most diverse of all marine ecosystems and one of the most threatened. Located in Papua New Guinea, a naturally occurring pH gradient due to carbon dioxide seeps across a coral reef is mimicking the effects of global ocean acidification due to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. Understanding the biodiversity structure at this Papua New Guinea site may help us predict the future effects of ocean acidification.

Interns will assist in surveys of the marine biodiversity (marine invertebrates) across the pH gradient by DNA barcoding the organisms (DNA isolation, amplification and sequencing) and by analyzing and scoring photographs collected during previous field trips at the CO2 seeps.

Most of the work would be done in the molecular laboratory and the computer room at the Natural History building located on the Mall is Washington DC, but some experiments will be done at the Museum Support Center in Suitland, MD.

Intern Qualifications: Previous experience with molecular techniques and Microsoft office are required. Attention to detail and manual dexterity to small handle tools (i.e. forceps) for manipulating small specimens with the use of a microscope are required. An intern would need to make a commitment of at least 16 hours a week for a minimum of 2 months. Applicants must submit their CV, letter of interest and two letters of recommendation to the project contact.

Learning Objectives: The interns will learn to sample and DNA barcode marine invertebrates for molecular assessments of marine biodiversity. They will also learn how to analyze and score photographs in order to inventory sessile marine species. The results will help investigate the effects of ocean acidification on marine fauna.

Timetable: Indefinite, starting January 11th 2015

Contact information:

Name: Laetitia Plaisance

Phone: 202-633-0684