From the Southwest to West Virginia: Meet our new endangered species biologist!
Welcome to Amanda Selnick, a new member of the endangered species crew in our West Virginia Field Office!
What is your professional background and experience with the Service?
I graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2012 with a degree in ecology, behavior, and evolution. I knew that I wanted to be a wildlife biologist, but I had to start somewhere. My first job after college was at the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona, where I had a one year internship with the Student Conservation Association.
While there, I gained hands-on experience with the semi-captive breeding program for the endangered Sonoran pronghorn, conducted outflight counts for the endangered lesser long-nosed bats, and serviced wildlife camera traps and weather stations across the 860,000 acre refuge.
After that internship, I completed another internship and a biotech seasonal position with the Southeast Arizona Group of the National Park Service, where I continued to work on wildlife camera traps and exotic plant management. During this time, I started the distance masters of wildlife science program at Texas A&M University. After a brief wildlife biotech seasonal with the U.S. Forest Service in Nebraska, I’ve been working for a month as the new pathways trainee for the West Virginia Field Office.
What are your goals as a new member to the endangered species team in West Virginia?
My primary goal is to engage in the endangered species consultation process, specifically with supporting the other biologists in my office. I hope to streamline our database management and consultation process (systems we call TAILS and IPaC) to allow our office as a whole to accomplish more work, more efficiently. In the process, I hope to gain advanced knowledge of endangered species management a whole, specifically through observing or contributing to species status assessments, a species listing, or a critical habitat designation. I’m also excited to get some on-the-ground experience working with our partners and local refuges.
Can you share a story about one of your greatest accomplishments at work so far? What you’ll bring from that experience to your new role?
I had the pleasure of cooperating with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from the National Park Service side while working at Chiricahua National Monument.
The inventory and monitoring program was testing a new method of long-term monitoring for medium to large sized mammals using wildlife camera traps. Our park was fully staffed and had the right equipment, so we worked with Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a pilot of their protocol at the park. This required a lot of preplanning and communication, since we were to deploy 45 cameras over 6 days across the 12,000 acre park. The deployment and retrieval of the cameras went smoothly, thanks to the combined efforts of staff from both agencies, interns, and international volunteers. I organized the photo-sorting effort, and the Park Service staff systematically sorted through 23,000 camera trap photos. We detected 22 species, including one species not yet documented in the park.
The following winter, we deployed cameras at two National Wildlife Refuges, utilizing our team’s expertise and experience to successfully implement the protocol again. I plan to use my experience with multiple federal agencies in establishing and maintaining partnerships, as well as my experience managing large amounts of data, in my new position with the West Virginia Field Office.