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Discerning Parasitic Wasp Diversity in North American Grasslands Internship

wasp

Project Title: Parasitic Wasp Diversity in North American Grasslands

Description: Seeking interns to participate in research on parasitic wasp diversity in North American grasslands. Goals of the project are (1) discover and describe new species, (2) discern spatiotemporal distributions for parasitic wasps that occur in grasslands, (3) assess the ability of parasitic wasps to recolonize grasslands restored from agricultural land, (4) explore how land management (e.g., prescribed burning) affects parasitic wasp diversity, and (5) survey parasitic wasps in grassland habitat adjacent to crop fields to determine if the former harbor species that provide ecosystem services in the latter. The Intern will receive training to (1) sample insects using flight traps, pan traps, and a sweep net; (2) sort samples of field-collected insects for parasitic wasps; (3) dehydrate, mount, and label parasitic wasps; and (4) identify wasps at levels ranging from subfamily to species. The Intern will spend three to four days per week sorting samples and preparing specimens at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). He/she will also spend one day every other week sampling insects at field sites (spring–fall only). Fieldwork may also include rearing parasitic wasps from hosts collected at field sites.

Qualifications: A minimum three month, 24 hours per week time commitment is required. A major or minor in biology or a related field is also required. The position requires attention to detail and a high level of dexterity. Preference will be given to applicants with experience in entomology or field biology.

Learning objectives: The Intern will learn to sample insects using a variety of techniques, identify superfamilies and families of wasps, prepare wasp specimens for research and deposition into the insect collection at the NMNH, and identify braconid wasp specimens.

Timetable: Indefinite

Award Package: None

Project Contact Name: Robert R. Kula

Phone: 202-633-4558, E-mail: Robert.Kula@ars.usda.gov