17 June 2021

A Very Quick, Yet Eventful, First 4 Weeks

Written by: Aditya Sastry

It has been about 4 weeks since I have started working with the species range project at USFWS and I cannot believe how incredibly fast it has gone by. I took interest in this project because I am majoring in environmental science and policy with a concentration in conservation biology and biodiversity at the University of Maryland, College Park. I started pursuing a minor in Geographical Information systems at school and I really enjoyed it, so I thought the species range project would be perfect for me. I wanted to try and apply the skills I learned in college in a real-life scenario, and in the past couple of weeks, I have already learned so much. I can already see my workflow and problem-solving getting better when doing GIS work. I cannot wait to see how much more I will have learned by the end of the DFP.

Currently, I am working on updating the current range of species for 2 plant species in the southern United States. We work with biologists, who are experts on the specific species and provide us with occurrence data. We use all sorts of public data to help create and refine a range based on what the biologist has told us. For example, a plant may grow better in different soils or in different geological areas. This requires us to download both soil data and geological data that we can compare with the occurrence points. If we see some similarities between soil type and geology where the points occur, then we can extract areas that fit those parameters and they could be a possible range. I have so far really enjoyed making some of the ranges. It almost feels like detective work, and it is really rewarding when you make a range map that seems plausible.

While my internship has started out great, I wish it were in person. I live really close to FWS headquarters, so it would have been ideal to actually go into the office and work there. That being said, remote work has its perks since it is pretty convenient and flexible with my schedule. Plus, I will not need to deal with rush hour :). Overall, the experience has been awesome, and I cannot wait for what is to come in the following 7 weeks!

Here are links to pictures of the 2 plant species I am working on creating the range for:

Morefield's leather flower:

Tennessee yellow-eyed grass:

Plus I included a picture of my work set up, featuring my daily cup of coffee.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Fish and Wildlife Headquarters, Washington Office

About Us

Hispanic Access Foundation connects Latinos and others with partners and opportunities to improve lives and create an equitable society.

Contact Us