Internship

Litvak Lab

Mount Allison University


  Posted: April 27, 2021

  Location: Sackville, New Brunswick

  Internship Program: Natural Resources

  Salary Range: $30,000 - $40,000

  Hours per Week: 36

  Start Date: October 1, 2021

  End Date: September 30, 2022

Job Description

Shortnose sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) is listed as an endangered species in the United States and a “Species of Special Concern” in Canada (COSEWIC). The Saint John River system is the only location that shortnose sturgeon occurs in Canada. Recently, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classified sturgeons as the most endangered vertebrate group in the world; all 27 species are on their Red List. This is due to damming, water regulation, pollution, climate change, and fisheries persecution, through directed fisheries, by-catch and poaching. While efforts are being made to stop these activities, they are not fast enough or on a large enough scale to ensure sturgeon survival. The Vienna declaration on global sturgeon conservation and World Wildlife Fund have both recommended that ex situ conservation strategies, such as development of living gene banks (LGBs) for stocking, should be developed and receive priority to rehabilitate sturgeon populations. LGBs have been used for conservation of other fishes for re-introduction and aquaculture production. This is a great approach; however, they are expensive and have been criticized for being unable to maintain desired genetic variability for re-introduction or production/selection purposes. Fortunately, advances in cryobiology have allowed us to expand the potential for preservation of wild and domestic stock variability through cryobanks. We need to augment and improve ex situ live gene banking through development of germplasm cryobanking protocols for sturgeons. Fish Germplasm Cryobanks provide insurance against extinction; extend generation interval; have gametes that outlive the donor; increase efficiency in captive breeding; reduce probability of inbreeding; reduce problems of asynchrony in availability of gametes; eliminate space issues needed to meet genetic diversity targets; improve disease management; provide resources for research on germplasm, blood, tissue and DNA; and economic opportunity. The ideal bank should be able to generate fish without relying on LGBs; i.e. a closed-loop system only needing cryopreserved materials to generate progeny. Recent success in generating eggs from germplasm of a donor species transplanted into a surrogate species means we now have the potential to generate eggs and sperm from cryopreserved germplasm. However, cryopreservation techniques are species specific and need to be created for each species. The intern will help work in our lab to help develop techniques to: 1) identify sex of wild shortnose sturgeon in the field using ultrasonography and morphological analysis; 2) laparoscopic surgical and endoscopic techniques to biopsy germplasm of captive and wild shortnose sturgeon; 3) develop cryopreservation techniques for shortnose sturgeon germplasm.

Duties and Responsibilities

The technician will be responsible for: 1) upkeep and maintenance of our lab and recirculation systems; 2) upkeep of watercraft (boats, Argo amphibious vehicle and hovercraft); 3) help capturing wild shortnose sturgeon; 3) collecting germplasm from captive and wild shortnose sturgeon; 4) help in developing cryopreservation procedures; 5) help in animal care of shortnose sturgeon in our lab; 6) help supervise undergraduate students; and 7) data collation and statistical analysis.

Knowledge and Skills

We are looking for candidates with experience in capturing wild fish, fish care in the lab and data collation and analysis. Research experience with fish is very important to this position. The successful candidate will need to be able to work as a member of a team. The intern will be trained to capture sturgeon and run a fish recirculation system. The candidate will also learn to use ultrasonographic, endoscopic, and cryopreservation equipment, as well as data collation and the use of the statistical program R.

The goal of this internship is to provide the candidate with experiences pertinent to conservation. It is our hope that this opportunity will provide the experience and networking to allow the candidate further opportunities in conservation related jobs or graduate school.

Education Required

BSc and MSc in biology with experience in fish physiology and ecology.

Certification Required

Driver's license, Boat operators license.

  How to Apply

To apply, send your resume to mlitvak@mta.ca.

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