Zoo Miami

Mentors: Steven Whitfield and Frank Ridgely, Zoo Miami

Gopher Tortoise Conservation and Ecology

Zoo Miami's pine rocklands habitat hosts a significant population of gopher tortoises - native threatened tortoises that construct deep burrows that provide a home for the tortoises - as well as hundreds of other species of vertebrates and invertebrates. The C&R department is conducting a thorough study of gopher tortoises, and is conducting zoo-wide surveys for gopher tortoises burrows, observing tortoise behavior at burrow entrances using motion-sensing video cameras, investigating seed dispersal by tortoises, and conducting radiotelemetry to understand movement patterns and habitat use. For Fall 2017, we are seeking an intern to join our gopher tortoise team to conduct radiotelemetry and follow individual tortoises in the pine rocklands at Zoo Miami.

Mapping Zoo Miami’s botanical collection

Zoo Miami has an extensive collection of ornamental plants used within the zoo’s landscaped public area. Many of the plants are identified to species and labeled to help educate visitors on botanical diversity. However, mapping of landscaping plants and full identification has been minimal. Interns working on this project may help to identify plant species within the zoo’s public area, and create maps using Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Butterfly propagation

Zoo Miami's pine rocklands are home to several species of imperiled butterflies, and butterfly conservation programs have been a focus of Zoo Miami's C&R department for several years. Zoo Miami has recently renovated a World War II-era munitions bunker into a solar- and wind-powered butterfly conservation laboratory, the "Butterfly Bunker." We are seeking an intern in Fall 2017 to begin propagating two species of native butterflies - the Atala Hairstreak (Eumaeus atala) and the Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes). An intern could refine propagation techniques for these species, and help develop protocols for release of butterflies at public sites within the zoo and throughout the local community. The intern would also participate in the data collection and care for Florida Duskywing (Ephyriades brunnea) larvae and pupae in an effort to establish a documented life history for this imperiled species.

For more information about Zoo Miami, click here