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Research Opportunity Description

Development of Landscape and Climate Indicators for Assessing Stream-Wetland Connectivity
Research Participation Program
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Assessment
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Arlington, VA

EPA-ORD/NCEA-DC-2014-01

Project Description:

A postgraduate or postdoctoral research project training opportunity is currently available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA). This appointment will be served in Arlington, Virginia.

NCEA coordinates high priority, science based assessments for EPA. Examples include a draft review and synthesis on connectivity of streams and wetlands to downstream waters, the EPA’s Mountaintop Mining Assessment, the First Triennial Biofuels Report to Congress, and the draft Bristol Bay Assessment.

This project focuses on the development and validation of landscape and climate indicators for assessing connectivity of geographically isolated wetlands to stream networks, with case studies in multiple regions of the United States.

Through this training opportunity, the participant will be involved in the following activities:

  • Developing and validating methods and a set of GIS-based indicators, derived from climate, landscape, biological, and social metrics – as well as remote sensing products, such as LiDAR – to assess stream-wetland connectivity in various landscape settings
  • Comparing coarser nationally-derived datasets to higher resolution regional/site based indicator data in assessing stream-wetland connectivity
  • Classifying subregions or watershed units of differing connectivity based on aggregation of GIS-based indicators
  • Collaborating with process-based modeling efforts to integrate indicators and metrics into simulations of wetland-stream hydrologic connectivity.

The research participant will learn about the use of spatial indicators and develop approaches for assessing watershed connectivity at various spatial scales through the use of geospatial techniques.

This research training opportunity will provide an exceptional professional development opportunity by allowing agency-wide collaboration with various experts in a range of disciplines. The research participant will be encouraged to communicate his/her research results through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at meetings of professional societies, and seminars. 

Geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs) can have important effects on the geomorphology, water chemistry, and biological integrity of downstream waters protected by the Clean Water Act. The incidence, type and magnitude of downstream connections from GIWs to stream and lake networks are controlled by numerous factors including climate, soil type, groundwater storage, density of surrounding aquatic features, biotic community composition and human alterations. However, finding generalizable trends or broad-based indicators of these connections has proven difficult and instead connectivity must often be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Development of improved methods for assessing stream-wetland connectivity across the U.S., along with broad-based indicators of connectivity from nationally available datasets, would be useful for scientists and managers alike.

Qualifications:

Applicants must have received a master’s or doctoral degree within five years of the desired starting date, or completion of all requirements for the degree should be expected prior to the starting date. Degree disciplines for this project include landscape or spatial ecology, geography, ecohydrology, ecoinformatics, geoinformatics or a closely related field, with emphasis on water resources. 

The program is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, sex, religion, color, age, physical or mental disability, national origin, or status as a Vietnam era or disabled veteran. U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status is preferred (but can also hold an appropriate visa status, however, an H1B visa is not appropriate).

The appointment is full-time for one year and may be renewed upon recommendation of EPA and subject to availability of funds. The participant will receive a monthly stipend. Funding may be made available to reimburse a research participant's travel expenses to present the results of his/her research at scientific conferences. No funding will be made available to cover travel costs for pre-appointment visits, relocation costs, tuition and fees, or a participant's health insurance. The participant must show proof of health and medical insurance. The participant does not become an EPA employee.

Technical Questions:

The contact for this project is Laurie Alexander (Alexander.Laurie@epa.gov).

How to Apply:

An application can be found at http://orise.orau.gov/epa/applicants/application.htm. Please reference Project # EPA-ORD-DC-2014-01 when calling or writing for information.

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