Internship at Latvian Fund for Nature: Expert assistant in grassland ecological restoration monitoring and evaluation for Master's students
Duration: 3 months
Period: May 20 to August 20, 2024 (if Master Thesis is planned: May 1 to August 1)
Commitment: 4 - 5 days per week (~ 35-40 hours)
Field of studies: Natural sciences / Environmental sciences / Geography
Level of studies: Master (in exceptional cases – Bachelor)
• Good English skills
• Drivers licence (EU category B) and driving experience, as the project areas are outside Riga
• Knowledge in plant species determination (in exceptional cases only basic knowledge possible)
• Knowledge of ecology of semi-natural grassland ecosystems
• Research skills
• Basic Computer Literacy (Excel, Spreadsheets, databases, GIS for mapping tasks)
• Interpersonal skills - being able to work in team, as well as working independently, adaptability
• Working knowledge of scientific (Latin) names for plant species identification would be an advantage
• The internship is UNPAID, priority will be given to applicants who are part or are planning to apply for Erasmus+ or other scholarship.
• Legal eligibility to work in the EU is a must.
• Foreign students should be covered by health and travel insurance from their home country. We will provide accident and liability insurance.
• We will help to find an apartment for rent in Riga.
• We will cover the transport and accommodation costs while working in the field (if Erasmus or other scholarships would not cover those costs).
• Once a month we will organize a 1-2 day trip around Latvia!
Latvian Fund for Nature (LFN) offers three internship positions for natural sciences Master (in exceptional cases – Bachelor) students interested in working with grassland habitat inventories, monitoring and management. The main scope will be to participate in the monitoring and evaluation of semi-natural grassland restoration success in project GrassLIFE2. Interns will have an opportunity to participate in other LFN projects dealing with EU grassland habitats (WoodMeadowLIFE, LIFE MarshMeadows, urbanLIFEcircles).
Interns will be provided with the initial training in plant identification upon starting the internship and afterward tasked with work under the supervision of an experienced grassland habitat expert or independently. The work will involve intensive fieldwork, working outdoors in various weather conditions. Expected fieldworks:
• Vegetation sampling
• Biomass sampling
• Collecting herbarium
• Mapping and marking of trees, bushes and other landscape elements that should be saved during restoration works
• Removal of invasive species
• Seed collection
• Distribution of green-hay
• An inspection of fences on grazing sites (LFN has mobile grazing unit) etc.
Office work will include vegetation data input in databases (Turboveg, Excel), vegetation and soil data analysis (linear models, multivariate ordination, classification etc.), scientific literature review.
We offer a unique opportunity to participate in the hands-on habitat management and restoration work and become a part of a grassland restoration and management team. The interns will acquire practical skills in identifying grassland plant species, mapping and identifying EU grassland habitats, management planning and monitoring.
Detailed description of the main tasks
Task 1: fieldwork in grassland habitat mapping and monitoring
Intern duties will focus primarily on assisting in the field surveys in before-restoration mapping and monitoring: vegetation sampling according to the EU habitat mapping methodology of Latvia and filling in the vegetation monitoring questionnaires in permanent and semi-permanent plots (standard methodology for vegetation description), counts of Rhinanthus seedlings, sampling of biomass samples for fooder quality analysis, collecting herbarium.
Task 2: fieldwork with habitat restoration
Intern duties will focus on assisting in the practical field works for restoration planning (like mapping and marking of trees, bushes, and other landscape elements that should be saved during restoration work), removal of invasive species, cutting of expansive species, collection of local seeds for the enrichment of species composition, distribution of green-hay, inspection of fences on grazing sites, sward management in experimental plots (grass cutting, weeding) etc.
Task 3: Office work on data input and analysis (ca. 20-30% of total time)
Intern duties will focus on field data input into Turboveg database and data handling for statistical analysis. Other duties may include assisting in statistical analysis of vegetation plot and soil data by multidimensional methods (NMS, DCA, RDA, CCA), creating graphs and diagrams to visualise the results, reviewing scientific literature on restoration issues.
Possible additional tasks:
4. Soil sampling.
5. Participation in organizing public events.
Topics for Master Thesis
We offer you to write your master’s thesis in the context of the GrassLIFE2 project. You would need to choose your supervisor from your home university and agree on the topic and study design. You will have the opportunity to collect the field data in Latvia and use the data previously collected in the project, as well as to receive scientific advice from the project staff at the University of Latvia.
• Assessment of grassland ecosystem services by remote sensing - forage quantity and quality (we provide sites, management data, biomass samples and analysis; assistance from home university: remote sensing data acquisition, management, analysis, interpretation).
• Effectiveness of using indicator species in grassland restoration assessment (we provide vegetation monitoring data before and after restoration, management information; assistance from home university: data statistical analysis).
• Changes in grassland plant diversity four years after the introduction of Rhinanthus (assistance from home university: data statistical analysis).
• A nationwide evaluation of EU grassland habitat conservation status in Latvia (we provide Nature Census data from grassland habitat nation-wide inventory and habitat quality score system we have developed; assistance from home university: data statistical analysis)
Below you can find a list of the master’s theses written and successfully defended during the internship in the previous years:
Martin Franc, 2020. Relationship between vegetation and soil chemical properties across a grassland cultivation gradient in farms of GrassLIFE project. Palacky University, Olomouc, Czechia.
Martina Marei Viti, 2022. Species diversity indices and community completeness index as indicators of short-term success of semi-natural grassland restoration. Master Degree in Scienze e gestione della natura. Curriculum Global change ecology and sustainable development goals. University of Bologna, Faculty of Science, Bologna, Italy.
Gudrun Ruff, 2023. Effects of grazing on semi-natural grassland vegetation in a complex floodplain landscape. A case study on Krastiņi farm, Latvia. University of Hildesheim, Institute for Biology and Chemistry. Major: Umwelt, Naturschutz und Nachhaltigkeitsbildung (Environmental Science)
HOW TO APPLY
Deadline to apply: January 31, 2024
1. Record a short (max. 3 min.) video about yourself: brief presentation, your study area, why you want to come here, everything that you would like to tell us! Upload the video on any video sharing platform you use - Dropbox, YouTube, Vimeo, WeTransfer, etc.
2. Prepare your CV.
3. Apply by sending a link to the video and your CV via the Erasmus internship portal or to Latvian Fund for Nature e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Latvian Fund for Nature
Latvian Fund for Nature is a non-profit non-governmental organisation working in the field of nature protection and habitat/species management in Latvia. The organisation was established on 1991 and our mission is to preserve biological diversity in Latvia. To achieve this, we are engaged in practical activities to preserve the environment and to educate society about the importance of biodiversity. We implement various national and EU-level projects dealing with habitat restoration and management and engage society in nature protection via citizen science and other activities. Our office is located in Riga, the capital of Latvia.
More information about Latvian Fund for Nature: www.ldf.lv
Here you can read internship stories from 2021 - 2022.
Here you can read internship stories from 2023.
For more information, please contact internship coordinator Nora Rustanovica at email@example.com