Sierra Nevada Rosy-Finch Project

Mentor & Lab: Tim Brown – Zavaleta Lab

Positions: 2 interns

Tentative dates: Early June – July

Project Location: High Sierra (Sierra Nevada)

Project Background: The high-elevation Rosy-Finch is a symbol of the Sierra Nevada’s fragile ecosystem, now facing the impacts of climate change. Our project, titled COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: LIVING WITH EXTREMES, aims to unravel the ecological, evolutionary, and behavioral responses of this high-altitude alpine songbird to rapid environmental shifts. We’re exploring the species’ capacity for adaptation, the potential for range shifts, and the risks of extinction, particularly in species where changing elevations isn’t a viable option.

Overall Objective: The project seeks to build a comprehensive understanding of genetic, phenotypic, and ecological factors that either promote survival or increase the risk of extinction in the face of swift climate change. The focus is on the integration of ecological and evolutionary variation and responses in the Rosy-Finch, developing a next-generation, mechanistic distribution model applicable to various species.

Intern duties:

• Surveying Rosy-Finch breeding sites and their environments

• Assisting in capturing, measuring, banding birds, and collecting blood samples for

genetic/genomic analyses

• Engaging in data collection, recording, entry, and exploration

• Participating in the development of research posters or talks to present summer findings

Internship Experience:

The role is demanding and immersive, requiring:

• Full-time fieldwork with long days, sometimes in inclement weather

• Backpacking with heavy gear to elevations between 10,000-14,000 feet

• Multi-day camping in variable conditions

• Collaborating on field logistics and various data streams (e.g., bird counts, vegetation sampling)

• Opportunity to be part of a close-knit team focused on conservation

Intern qualifications: Bird ID (sight & sound) and handling skills a plus. Experience following/adhering to detailed research protocol, quantitative skills, data entry, organized and highly detail-oriented, working long and strenuous days carrying heavy equipment, great attitude in inclement weather and strenuous, prolonged working conditions.

Do you recommend the intern(s) volunteer in your lab during Spring quarter?

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.