06 August 2020

Crunch Time

Written by: Madison McGoarty

Sitting in my mundane home office (really a desk in my bedroom), it feels like the days are longer and the weeks are shorter. With only four weeks left of my fellowship, I am beginning to feel the pressure of completing the finished species report on Nevin's barberry (Berberis nevinii).

In the beginning of this project, I struggled getting partners to respond to my inquiries and felt unorganized in my approach to the document. However, the past two weeks I have been able to open lines of communication with experts and botanists from other offices. Having my questions answered directly has improved the information I am incorporating into my species report.

Previously being a strict herpetologist, I found the thought of working on a bush as tedious and boring. Throughout this internship, I have found it definitely is not boring. Everyday I am making new connections between the physiological and genetic trails of this species and the potential impacts that a changing environment, or encroaching human development may have on it in the future. I have been able to reclassify the breeding system from obligate outcrossing to a mixed system. With this information I can hypothesize that geographically distant populations will have higher rates of inbreeding, which may affect the population's survival in the long run. I am currently working on a section of how climate change affects my species. I am excited to see what dots I can connect in improving future conservation plans.

Working form home has had its difficulties, but I am getting used to it just as everyone else is adjusting to this new normal. I have even started bonding with my co-worker! Even though she likes to sleep on my laptop while I work and meow during our lunch breaks.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office

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