Modeling historical distribution of alpine breeding birds of Sierra Nevada

Mentor & Lab: Reza Goljani Amirkhiz, Zavaleta lab

Positions: 1 intern

Tentative dates: July 15th – September 15th

Project Location: Lab on Coastal Campus

Project Background: Documenting range shifts is an integral part of understanding how species and communities have responded to past environmental change and how they might respond to future environmental modifications. A key strategy for documenting range shifts is using and resurveying historical occurrence data, such as those from museum collections and field notes. Species Distribution Models (SDMs) are powerful tools to understand ecological relationships and to map distribution of species in time and space using occurrence records and GIS data. The goal of this project is (1) to document historical occurrence records of breeding birds of Sierra Nevada (2) to prepare GIS data required for SDMs (3) to develop SDMs. The results of this work will help scientists to compare the current and historical distribution of alpine birds to understand the impact of climate change.

Intern duties: Collect and organize historical records from various databases. Preparing GIS data including topographic indices, land cover, and climate data, and developing SDMs for some or all birds.

Intern qualifications: This project is a learning opportunity to develop high-demand skills like GIS and statistical analysis. A candidate should be interested in learning software and basic statistics. Familiarity with GIS, Excel, and basic statistics are a plus.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?
Not necessarily.

UC Santa Cruz Land Acknowledgement

The land from which we base our work is the unceded territory of the Awaswas-speaking Uypi Tribe. The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, comprised of the descendants of indigenous people taken to missions Santa Cruz and San Juan Bautista during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, is today working hard to restore traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from historical trauma.