Become part of Hawaii’s conservation story

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking 4 volunteers beginning mid-April 2014 for up to 8 months to join the 8th Crazy Ant Strike Team (CAST VIII) Expedition to Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Johnston Atoll is located in the central Pacific Ocean, 717 nautical miles west-southwest of Honolulu. The refuge is managed for 14 species of breeding seabirds and 5 species of wintering shorebirds in addition to its diverse coral reef and marine organism assemblages, including the threatened green sea turtle. The atoll contains four small islands (696 acres), which constitute the only land area in over 750,000 square miles of ocean. The emergent land associated with this refuge provides critical, rat-free habitat for central Pacific seabird populations and its coral reef ecosystem is an important marine resource. The refuge is uninhabited except for the 5 member strike team. Volunteers will have the opportunity to live in this remote setting surrounded by birds and sea life.

In January 2010, an infestation of Anoplolepis gracilipes, or yellow crazy ants (YCAs), was found affecting approximately 130 acres of the 630-acre Johnston Island. Yellow crazy ants, named because of their manic behavior when disturbed, have wreaked havoc on ecosystems and bird habitats in other parts of the world; therefore the presence of this infestation is cause for great concern. Local impacts to wildlife already observed on Johnston Island include the apparent desertion of the entire affected area by ground nesting birds (Red-tailed Tropicbird and Wedge-tailed Shearwater) that previously occupied those areas and a possible reduction in density and numbers of tree-nesting bird species (Red-footed Booby and White Tern) inside the area colonized by YCA. The potential for even greater impacts to the terrestrial ecosystem at Johnston Atoll is substantial if the infestation of YCA is left unchecked.

Efforts have been ongoing since August 2010, and YCA numbers have been reduced by 99% and the seabirds have begun to return. Duties performed by CAST VIII will include: 1) in Honolulu, Hawai’i, packing and preparing gear, food, and all items necessary for the camp; and 2) on Johnston Island, applying pesticides, biological monitoring of ants and bird communities, and camp maintenance. CAST VIII will consist of 4 volunteers and a crew leader.


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