D11 Denton, TX Field Ecologist I - Aquatics

National Ecological Observatory Network Inc - Denton, TX (30+ days ago)

Battelle and its affiliate, Battelle Ecology, Inc. manages and operates the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) project, which is solely funded by the National Science Foundation. A 30+ year project dedicated to understanding how changes in climate, land use and invasive species impact ecology, the observatory’s scientists and engineers are collecting a comprehensive range of ecological data on a continental scale across 20 eco-climatic domains representing US ecosystems. Our teams use cutting-edge technology, including an airborne observation platform that captures images of regional landscapes and vegetation; mobile, relocatable, and fixed data collection sites with automated ground sensors to monitor soil and atmosphere; and trained field crews who observe and sample populations of diverse organisms and collect soil and water data. Once structures are completed, a leading edge cyberinfrastructure will calibrate, store and publish this information. The Observatory includes more than 500+ personnel and is the first of its kind designed to detect and enable forecasting of ecological change at continental scales.


Field Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.

Field Ecologist I - The Field Ecologist I is a biological sampling lead performing seasonal and periodic sampling activities and sample processing. Seasonal field sampling is conducted with the assistance of temporary field crews under the guidance of the Field Ecologist.


Techs in the Southern Plains Domain 11 work across two terrestrial and two aquatic sites located in Oklahoma and Texas.

Terrestrial sites:
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland is our core (unmanaged) terrestrial site, and forms part of the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands (CLBJ) managed by the US Forest Service. The site is >20,250 acres and is located about 35 miles west of the Domain 11 Support Facility. CLBJ is primarily used for habitat for wildlife, cattle grazing, and recreation (including hunting, camping, horse riding, and hiking). The site has fairly flat terrain and consists of a mosaic of crosstimbers (oak-dominated) forest and grasslands. Many areas have a dense understory of vines with large thorns and other deciduous trees, which make walking around the site challenging. Green briar (thorny shrubs), poison ivy, ticks, mosquitoes, and snakes are the major non-weather environmental risks. The area is classified as a humid subtropical climate with hot and humid summers and winters mild to cool. The average summer high temperature is ~ 96°F, so expect to work in high heat conditions during the summer peak sampling season. Additionally, because of its location in North Texas, this area is very susceptible to supercell thunderstorms, which can produce large hail, excessive rainfall/flooding, and tornadoes. Expect to work single days of up to 10 hours max with two hours driving and 8 hours outside.

The Marvin Klemme Range Research Station, an Oklahoma State University Agricultural Experiment Station is Domain 11’s managed terrestrial site. The station consists of 1,560 acres and is located 10 miles south and 5 miles west of Clinton, Oklahoma. The vegetation is central mixed grass prairie with primarily short grasses and forbs with the rest a mix of tallgrass and bare soil. The landscape is a rolling upland prairie composed of flat terrain interspersed with small hilltops, swales, and canyons. The average annual precipitation is 30.70 inches with an average summer high temperature of 93.6°F and average winter low temperature of 26.1°F. The sight is actively grazed by cattle with light to moderate intensity. Snakes, wasps, and cacti are the biggest non-weather environmental concerns. Travel is about 4.5hrs to the site from the Domain 11 Support Facility and overnight stays are necessary and frequent. Expect 4-5 hours of work outside on travel days and up to 10 hours on non-travel days. Field housing is available and comfortable!

Aquatic Sites:
Pringle Creek (also managed by USFS at CLBJ) is paired with our core terrestrial site, and work here involves a 1-hour (each way) drive, and 2-8 hours of field sampling in a creek depending on the protocol being conducted. Blue River is managed by The Nature Conservancy and is situated close to the town of Connerville, Oklahoma. Field work here involves a 2-hour drive to the site, and field sampling hours similar to Pringle Creek. On rare occasions, overnight stay might be required, and is usually provided by the Station Manager on the TNC property. Access to both sites are relatively easy, with field trucks being able to drive close to the creek banks.

Denton, Texas:
The city of Denton is home to a number of well-known universities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, and temporary housing is relatively easy to find. The city has a ‘young’ vibe to it, and offers a lot of diverse activities such as a number of film and music festivals, sporting events, unique cafes, restaurants, bars, galleries, etc.

Depending on the time of the season, the staff at the Southern Plains domain are either on a 10hr-4day or 8hr-5day weekly schedule.


Limnology emphasis:
Monitor and sample aquatic sites for water quality, biological indicators, physical properties of site (e.g. gaging streams, geomorphic mapping, etc.), and leading field crews to perform the aforementioned items.
Test, troubleshoot and operate instruments, calibration equipment and test fixtures.
Inspect and maintain aquatic sensors, gear and equipment.
Assist the NEON Project Systems Engineering Product Team with instrument installation and testing (approximately the first 6 months).
Perform aquatic vegetation diversity and primary productivity measurements.
Sample for aquatic invertebrate and fish diversity and abundance.

General duties include:
Report activities, completed work, and sampling problems according to Field Operations protocols.
Inspect, maintain and operate field, safety and laboratory equipment.
Operate laboratory equipment (e.g. Wiley Mill, drying oven, analytical balance, centrifugal mill, pH meter, microscope, and muffle furnace).
Assist the Field Operations Manager with recruiting and training of seasonal field personnel.
Provide instruction and technical guidance to seasonal field personnel.
Perform plot establishment by locating plots with GPS navigation as well as measuring and marking plots.
Assist the Field Operations Manager with materials planning, inventory and ordering as well as day-to-day oversight of personnel and scheduling of activities coordinated from the field office.
Follow NEON Project safety and Field Operations policy and procedures.

Field activities may include:
Follow established, standardized field protocols for sample collection and handling; record and verify accuracy of data from sample collections; process samples in the laboratory; send samples to external analytical labs. Train and lead field crews performing the aforementioned items.
Perform other field sampling activities as assigned including: ground beetle collection (pitfall trapping), mosquito collection (CO2 light traps, tick collection (dragging and flagging) and soil core collection.
Test, troubleshoot and operate tower, soil and aquatic instruments, calibration equipment and test fixtures.
Inspect and maintain civil infrastructure including boom arms, sensor mounts, towers, boardwalks and instrument huts.
Monitor and sample aquatic sites for water quality, biological indicators and physical properties of site (e.g. gaging streams, geomorphic mapping).

Physical demands:
The work is physical and involves walking, hiking, prolonged standing, walking and bending. Heavy items (e.g. equipment and packs up to 40 pounds) must be lifted and carried on a routine basis.

Work environment:
Fieldwork includes exposure to extreme weather conditions and terrain, pesticides, poisonous plants, biting insects, and wild animals. Tower work involves performing work on instrument towers ranging in height from 24 feet to 300 feet, which will include ascending and descending multiple flights of stairs.


The NEON Project will be selecting a Field Ecologist I. Equivalent education and experience may be considered.

Field Ecologist I
Bachelor’s degree in ecology, environmental sciences or related scientific discipline.
One (1) or more years’ of related experience.

All Field Ecologist Levels:
Ability to work in a team environment.
Experience should include performing scientific data entry and data management.
Ability to hike off-trail to assigned field site for long distances carrying field equipment (pack weighing up to 40 lbs.) for extended periods.
Ability and willingness to travel overnight frequently (e.g. semi-monthly for 3-4 nights).

The NEON Project will take into consideration qualifications for specific and diverse experience in the following areas:

Effective leadership skills and the ability to motivate others.
Effective problem solving skills and the ability to determine and act on changing priorities in a fast paced dynamic environment.
Ability to organize and execute multiple activities and priorities.

Ability to perform minor troubleshooting, calibration, and repair of field equipment.
Ability to follow written and verbal instructions.
Ability and willingness to learn and adopt new technologies as needed.
Ability to work independently and as part of a team.
High level of attention to detail and accuracy.
Ability to make effective decisions that take into consideration safety and operational standards.

Working conditions:
Ability and willingness to work varied field operations schedules (up to 12+ hours per day), including split shift, part-time, pre-dawn early mornings, evenings and weekends.
Ability and willingness to work on towers ranging in height from 24 feet to 300 feet including ascending and descending multiple flights of stairs on instrument towers.
Perform field assignments in a variety of terrain and of weather conditions including cold and wet winter weather and extreme heat.
Ability to withstand exposure to fumes, dust, noise and toxicodendron plants (e.g. poison ivy and poison oak), ticks, biting insects and other natural hazards.
Ability and willingness to travel overnight frequently (e.g. semi-monthly for 3-4 nights) is required.

Must have permanent authorization for US employment. Battelle Ecology, Inc. will not provide any kind of visa sponsorship.

Employment is contingent on background screen, drug screen, motor vehicle records check and physical.

Must possess a current and valid State issued driver’s license with insurable Department of Motor vehicle record (parking violations, minor driving offenses excluded) as determined by Battelle Ecology Inc.’s insurance provider.

This position offers competitive total rewards including 401(k), health, vision and dental insurance, paid time off and the opportunity to work at an organization with a great mission.

Battelle provides employment and opportunities for advancement, compensation, training, and growth according to individual merit, without regard to race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, age, genetic information, disability, veteran-status, or any other characteristic protected under applicable Federal, state, or local law. Our goal is for each staff member to have the opportunity to grow to the limits of their abilities and to achieve personal and organizational objectives. We will support positive programs for equal treatment of all staff and full utilization of all qualified employees at all levels within Battelle.