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RAP opportunity at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration     NOAA

Endangered White Abalone Research to Inform Restoration


National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center

opportunity location
26.03.37.C0158 La Jolla, CA 92038


name email phone
John Raymond Hyde 858.546.7086
Melissa Jane Neuman 562.481.4594



White abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) was listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2001. NMFS developed a recovery strategy for white abalone that includes programs emphasizing: captive breeding, genetic management, disease management, enhancement of populations in Southern California, and wild population and habitat monitoring.  Conservation efforts have focused on two recovery activities. The first is a captive propagation and enhancement program initiated to increase the number of captive-grown white abalone that can be reintroduced back into the wild. NMFS West Coast Region (WCR) oversees the program in close coordination with the University of California at Davis' Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and multiple partner facilities. The second is monitoring the demographics of the small population of wild white abalone and characterizing habitat use using ROVs and SCUBA in the Southern California Bight and Baja California, Mexico. NMFS oversees this program in close partnership with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and several other partners.

In 2016, NOAA completed a Species in the Spotlight 5-Year Action Plan to identify immediate challenges that must be addressed and overcome in order to recover white abalone. One of them is to determine the factors that lead to high survival rates of captive-reared animals in the wild. Another is to develop methods and tools to successfully deliver white abalone from the captive setting to the natural environment. Finally, the development of methods and tools to effectively monitor the demographics of enhanced white abalone populations over time is important for gauging the overall success of the program. We anticipate that the post-doctoral associate will work on all three of these aspects of white abalone recovery by designing and conducting experiments in the laboratory and the field, collecting and analyzing the data from these experiments, and sharing the information with recovery partners and the scientific community through workshops, meetings, and scientific publications.

Specifically, the NOAA West Coast Region Protected Resources Division (PRD) and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) announce an opportunity to fund a post-doctoral associate who will examine factors that lead to the long-term survival of the endangered white abalone once captive-bred individuals are outplanted into the wild. Post-doctoral research may focus on the following: 1) development of genetic tools that can trace outplant survivors to their genetic histories; 2) development of a data management framework for multiple restoration activities, especially outplanting, that enables program partners to share data entry platforms; and 3) development of laboratory studies that identify factors that may enhance captive propagation or outplanting success. In addition, the candidate will be expected to support white abalone outplanting operations which includes scientific diving off of small boat platforms. The associate will be stationed in Southern California, ideally at the SWFSC in La Jolla, CA, and will be expected to travel frequently throughout the Southern California Bight for fieldwork and coordination meetings.


The candidate must be certified as a scientific diver through an AAUS affiliated institution and must have a minimum of at least 100 dives. A background in marine ecology, invertebrate biology, population ecology, or marine conservation is preferred. Experience with cold-water kelp forest diving and working on small boats is preferred.


Stierhoff, K., M. Neuman, J. Butler. 2012. On the road to extinction? Population declines of the endangered white abalone, Haliotis sorenseni.  Biological Conservation 152 (2012) 46--52.

Andrews, A., R. Leaf, L. Rogers-Bennett, M. Neuman, H. Hawk, G. Caillet. 2013. Bomb radiocarbon dating of the endangered white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni): investigations of age, growth and lifespan. Marine & Freshwater Research

Rogers-Bennett, L., K.M. Aquilino, C.A. Catton, S. Kawana, B.J. Walker, L. W. Ashlock, B.C. Marshman, J.D. Moore, l.K. Tanaguchi, KV. Gilardi, and G. N. Cherr. 2016. Implementing a Restoration Program for the Endangered White Abalone (Haliotis sorenseni) in California. Journal of Shellfish Research 35(3): 611-618

key words
Abalone; Endangered; Conservation; Restoration; Shellfish Aquaculture; Genetics; Behavioral Ecology; Physiological Ecology; Underwater Research


Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens, permanent residents and non-U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants


Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$58,000.00 $2,000.00

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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