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Field Ecologist II

Hilo HI

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.

Battelle Ecology, Inc. is hiring for a Field Ecologist II to be located in Hilo, HI.



Field Ecologists reports to the Field Operations Manager.

Field Ecologist II - The Field Ecologist II is a biological sampling lead performing seasonal and periodic sampling activities and sample processing, and will be the technical lead for performing routine maintenance and inventory management on all terrestrial sampling equipment. The Field Ecologist II will provide guidance to temporary field crews while working in the field and laboratory.



The Domain 20 Field Technician’s primary work location is Hilo, HI.

Domain 20 is based out of Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawai`i. The instrument tower, sensor arrays and all of our sampling locations are located within the Pu`u Maka`ala Natural Area Reserve (NAR), an 18,730 acre tract consisting largely of unique native rainforest. Koa and `ohi`a forests within the reserve are home to three critically endangered bird species and many rare and culturally important plants. Because of the biological and cultural significance of the site, field technicians will be expected to follow rigorous decontamination protocols to minimize the risk of spreading disease such as rapid `ohi`a death (ROD) and introducing invasive and non-native species into the reserve.

Field technicians can expect to learn, practice and perfect their skills on over a dozen plant and invertebrate based sampling protocols. The field season here is year-round but the most active time will be from April until October. The Hilo area receives, on average, over 126 inches of rainfall annually (Seattle, WA gets 38inches), making it one of the wettest places in the world and the fourth rainiest city in the US. Areas upslope of Hilo, including the study site, will receive nearly 220 inches of precipitation in a year. More than 70% of your time will be outdoors and the remainder will be working in the lab processing samples and preparing for upcoming fieldwork. Techs will need to be flexible in the hours that they work, with some days starting at dawn and some ending after dusk. Much of our work is conducted at plots that will remain active research sites for the length of the 30 year project. Access to the plots is typically off-trail and can require walking 100 to 500 meters on uneven ground, through dense vegetation, while watching for open lava tubes and drop-offs. D20 field techs will also be expected to remain vigilant and respond appropriately when working near endangered bird species, their nests and other populations of rare plants and animals.



Botany emphasis:

Lead, perform and coordinate plant phenology, diversity, biogeochemistry and productivity measurements.

Identify local flora to species using techniques including: general observation, field references, dichotomous key, comparison with identified specimens, or other identification methods. Local species identification skills are used to complete activities such as plant diversity observations, classification of phenological stages of local flora, and sorting of plants and debris into functional group or category.

Collect and process samples for activities such as clip harvest, biomass, canopy foliage and leaf area index measurements as well as vegetation structure measurements.

Map and measure structural metrics of free-standing woody stems.


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 II. Equivalent education and experience may be considered.

Bachelor’s Degree in ecology, environmental sciences or related scientific discipline.

Three (3) 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.


For more information and to apply: http://www.neonscience.org/opportunities/careers

Posted March 9, 2018

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