Tuesday, June 26, 2012

From the Appalachians to the Adirondacks to the Rhode Island coast

One biologist’s contribution to conservation

Today, in line with our feature of endangered species work in Rhode Island, we’re featuring one of the folks who is making this type of work happen--Ryan Kleinert, a 2012 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where he studied wildlife and conservation biology, and a biological science technician for the Service.

Over the past three summers, I’ve seen numerous piping plover, American oystercatcher, and least tern chicks grow feathers and fly, and I’ve also seen many not make it past the first week of hatching.

A successful field season takes an enormous amount of time, dedication to detail, consistent effort and devotion. But it’s hard to describe how gratifying it is to see that egg hatch or chick fly away.

The most challenging aspect that I face while monitoring and protecting shorebirds involves circumstances that are completely out of my control, such as when a nest gets over-washed by a spring high tide. I have to consistently remind myself that I did everything I could possibly do for that nest, adult bird, chick, and so on.

As a field biologist, I have an insatiable interest in the life history of birds, specifically with their migration, breeding and foraging ecology. I have had the opportunity to dedicate my time, energy, and enthusiasm to the monitoring and protection of threatened and vulnerable shorebirds along the coast of Rhode Island. Working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided me with some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. 

Where it all started…
My passion for the natural world was fostered in my childhood during our frequent trips to the ocean to swim, surf and explore. I vividly remember being captivated and enthralled by the foraging behavior of sanderlings and other shorebirds.

I felt a deep desire to explore and learn more about all living things, so when an opportunity presented itself, I moved to the Southern Appalachians of Western North Carolina to study botany and work as a botany assistant at a native plant sanctuary in Asheville, N.C.

I still was not quite satisfied, so I continued my quest by moving to the Adirondacks, where I lived for two years in a little cabin that was off the grid and free of electricity. After a six-year hiatus from academia, I decided to continue my formal education and began attending URI.

American oystercatcher and chick. Credit: USFWS

Working with the Service…
In the summer of 2010, I responded to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as a technical specialist, and although it was daunting and challenging, I benefited from the experience, and it strengthened my commitment to conservation.

Some of my other experiences include mist netting and banding saw-whet-owls, surveying for piping plovers, performing public outreach about threatened shorebirds, assisting with the annual tern census at Monomoy N.W. R., performing point counts for breeding birds, and working alongside dedicated colleagues.

This summer I am working as a biological science technician for the Rhode Island Wildlife Complex. In addition to monitoring piping plovers, American oystercatchers and least terns, I will be in the salt marshes of Rhode Island banding and collecting data on salt marsh sparrows.

I am incredibly honored to be an employee of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and to have the opportunity to work in the field to implement management plans that are focused on the recovery of our nation’s most threatened and endangered wildlife species. I can honestly say I believe I have a fantastic, rewarding job that brings a great sense of satisfaction as I work with colleagues to protect the natural world.

Learn more about Ryan:

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