Florida softshell turtle, Apalone ferox, photo by J.D. Willson

Herpetofauna Taxa Lead Biologist

Santa Ana Watershed Association
Riverside, California
Closing Date
Application review begins July 30, 2021 and continue until filled.

The Santa Ana Watershed Association pleased to announce an opening for Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) Herpetofauna Taxa Lead. This is a full-time position with a Monday through Friday work schedule. The Herpetofauna Taxa Lead is a full-time hourly position that works under the direct supervision of the Biologist Supervisor. Benefits include an S-125 medical plan with a $700 monthly stipend; a retirement plan with 6% employer contribution; and paid leave following a six-month probationary period. Compensation, commensurate with experience, is $25.50 - $26.77. The position salary range is $25.50 - $32.65. The start date is flexible.

The Herpetofauna Taxa Lead for the Western Riverside County Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) Biological Monitoring Program will plan and participate in surveys for a wide variety of amphibian, reptile, and fish species and their habitats, and will be specifically expected to oversee field crews. Working closely with the Monitoring Program Manager, Biologist Supervisor, GIS Analyst, and Data Manager, the Herpetofauna Taxa Lead will be responsible for protocol development and implementation, data collection and analysis, and report writing, with the desired outcome of meeting species-specific Conservation Objectives. The Herpetofauna Taxa Lead will interact with staff from multiple agencies, including the Regional Conservation Authority (RCA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as local land managers.

Primary duties include:

  • Plan, design and conduct biological surveys for Covered reptile, amphibian, and fish species.
  • Oversee and schedule field crews to ensure accurate and reliable collection of data.
  • Prepare study designs, including the development, testing and refinement of survey protocols using scientifically supported approaches.
  • Lead the training of field crews on data collection protocols and species identification.
  • Conduct literature research to stay current on Covered herpetofauna and fish.
  • Coordinate with other Taxa Leads and participate in a wide variety of wildlife surveys as needed.
  • Conduct surveys for, and oversee the removal of invasive aquatic species.
  • Coordinate with personnel from other agencies and stakeholders on field activities, data collection, and site access.
  • Prepare field forms, coordinate gpx files, maps using ArcGIS and field supplies for surveys.
  • Prepare and maintain field equipment.
  • Oversee data digitization procedures, and perform quality control checks of collected data.
  • Perform data analysis using appropriate statistical methods.
  • Write detailed reports summarizing data.
  • Operate 4WD vehicles, digital equipment, computers, and lab equipment. Expected to carry a 25–30 pound backpack.
  • Attend meetings and training as appropriate.

The Santa Ana Watershed Association (SAWA) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and enhancement of the natural resources in the Santa Ana River watershed located in Southern California. SAWA collaborates with many local and regional stakeholders and resource agencies to affect large-scale, science-based habitat restoration, biological monitoring and endangered species recovery. The Biological Monitoring Program (BMP) of the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) for Western Riverside County is responsible for monitoring 146 Covered Species and associated habitats as outlined in the MSHCP. More information on the MSHCP can be found at wrc-rca.org


Basic Requirements

  • Three to five years of field experience conducting biological surveys and collecting data on amphibians and reptiles, with specific emphasis on trapping and handling experience.
  • Knowledge of: herpetological fauna (preferably in southern California); standard identification and survey methods, including handling and marking techniques for sensitive (including threatened and endangered) amphibians and reptiles.
  • Knowledge of and experience with fish (preferably southern California).
  • Ability to design herpetofauna and fish sampling strategies.
  • Experience and proficiency with Microsoft Office products and mapping programs that include ArcGIS and Google Earth and the ability to create gpx files for GPS navigation.
  • Ability to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with a variety of groups and individuals.
  • Ability to work independently with little to no supervision and cooperatively with a team.
  • Ability to lead people in the field and to direct and provide oversight of office work.
  • Ability to understand and follow oral and written directions, and complete complex assignments in a timely fashion.
  • Ability to keep clear and accurate notes, tabulate and analyze data, and prepare reports.
  • Ability to work long days and the occasional evening and over-night shift.
  • Ability to work in remote locations under variable environmental conditions (e.g., rough uneven terrain, off-trail, seasonally harsh temperatures).
  • Ability to operate 4WD vehicles.
  • Must complete training for, and be willing to use, Wilderness First Aid and CPR.
  • Valid state driver’s license with current proof of driving record.


Successful completion of a full four year course of study at an accredited college or university leading to a Bachelor of Science or higher degree that included a major field of study in herpetology, ecology, biology, or other closely related field. Completion of at least one course in statistics. A Master’s degree is preferred.

To Apply

E-mail the following to Jennette El Morsy at jennette [at] sawatershed.org. Please include “MSHCP Herp Taxa Lead - Your Name” in the subject line:

  • Cover letter describing qualifications for the position and interest in SAWA
  • Complete CV/resume
  • Contact information (including phone numbers and e-mail addresses) of three references to:

Or mail the above to: J. El Morsy, Santa Ana Watershed Association, 1835 Chicago Ave., Suite C, Riverside, CA 92507

Final candidate will be subject to a physical exam, drug screening test and background check.

The MSHCP BMP department fosters a talented, highly skilled and energized workforce. SAWA is an Equal Opportunity Employer that values diversity in the workplace.

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