2022 field technician position application period is closed.

A researcher measures an endangered Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog.

Below is the text of our 2022 field crew advertisement. The application period is currently closed. If you have questions about a submitted application, please contact mountainlakesresearchgroup.jobs@gmail.com.

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We seek individuals with passion for conservation and research in challenging conditions, and extensive mountain experience. Follow the links at the bottom of this post for detailed job descriptions and application instructions.

Over the past quarter century, we have documented dramatic, disease-driven declines of mountain yellow-legged frogs across California’s Sierra Nevada. But we have also documented the beginning of their recovery in recent years. In 2022, we will hire up to six field technicians for two projects, described below. These technicians will be critical to sustaining our long-term research of frog declines and recovery in 2022, and to evaluate future recovery opportunities with partners in the National Park Service.

As part of our team, technicians conduct frog population surveys, disease surveys, and frog translocations/reintroductions. Our team studies the amphibians in lakes, ponds, and meadows across the remote, alpine Sierra Nevada landscape. We backpack 10-20+ miles to reach study sites, camp for 3-10 days, and work in all conditions, for 12-14 weeks of the summer. Although there are physical challenges, there are scenic rewards. Furthermore, we are motivated by the positive impact that our research has on frog recovery. If this sounds like the perfect opportunity for you or someone you know, please apply or share!

Inventory focus: Explore the depths of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park or Yosemite National Park. Inventory sites where Rana muscosa and R. sierrae occurred historically.

Disease resilience focus: Dig deep at intensively studied frog populations to evaluate recovery in the presence of the amphibian chytrid fungus. Work in both Parks and nearby National Forests.

These projects are based out of (and crews will live at) the amazing Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserves in Mammoth Lakes, California!

Mountain yellow-legged frog restoration amid a wildlife pandemic.

California’s mountain yellow-legged frogs are endangered. One reason is an ongoing wildlife pandemic (or, a panzootic). Worldwide, amphibians are threatened by a disease called chytridiomycosis, caused by the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis. This disease has caused declines in frog and salamander species across six continents, including here in California. In a public seminar on Thursday 12 November 2020, our own Mountain Lakes Research Group Principal Investigator Tom Smith, PhD described some of the conservation tools that we study. Our goal is to help mountain yellow-legged frog populations persist in a landscape with widespread disease.

The recorded seminar is available to watch:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRKf_rnxbSEvv_dp5lZtPBQ

This seminar was part of the UC Santa Barbara Natural Reserve System seminar series. Our research group is based out of the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, which is part of the Natural Reserve System.

Researchers and agencies work together to stop Bd epizootics in wild mountain yellow-legged frog populations.

Our work on Bd mitigation and cooperation with California and U.S. wildlife agencies was recently described on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s blog, in a series on conservation in action. Thanks to Meghan Snow for the write-up, and to Jill Seymour, Isaac Chellman, and many others for their collaboration on this project. See the link below:

https://medium.com/conservation-service-in-action/fighting-chytrid-how-do-biologists-fight-pandemics-in-the-animal-kingdom-675a5dc99af2

Frogs released after treatment.
Mountain yellow-legged frogs are released into pens after a round of antifungal treatment to reduce infections with the amphibian chytrid fungus. credit: Roland Knapp.

New paper published in Ecosphere

A paper entitled “Disease and climate effects on individuals drive post-reintroduction population dynamics of an endangered amphibian” by Max and Roland was published in Ecosphere today. The accompanying UCSB story is available here. Although developed for mountain yellow-legged frogs, the hierarchical Bayesian hidden Markov model they developed might be applicable to other species impacted by the amphibian chytrid fungus. 

Frogs make an unexpected recovery

In this new video, UCSB videographer Spencer Bruttig talks to Roland during a visit to one of his Yosemite study sites and gets the latest on the outcome of frog conservation efforts there. Amazingly, despite all of the challenges the Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog has faced during the past century, the frogs are making a remarkable comeback. Hear about this exciting turn of events from someone who witnessed the frogs’ decline and now the beginning of their recovery.

New study: frogs in Yosemite are recovering

A paper by Roland and colleagues was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. The accompanying UCSB story is available here. The study shows that despite the ongoing presence of introduced fish and the amphibian chytrid fungus, Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frogs are recovering across Yosemite National Park. This recovery is occurring because some lakes have been restored to their original fishless condition, and frogs are developing increased resistance to fungal infection. These results suggest that some amphibians may be more resilient than is often assumed, and with appropriate management, declines of such species may be reversible. That is great news!