Gull Population Biology Internship

Project overview:
In the Gulf of Maine, populations of gulls have fluctuated dramatically during the past several decades, largely as a result of human activities. Gulls are apex predators in nearshore marine ecosystems and can significantly alter terrestrial habitats on breeding islands. Though gulls are a conspicuous presence in coastal New England, surprisingly little is known about their population biology.

The Gull Population Biology Internship is designed around a unique, long-term gull banding program initiated in 2004 on Appledore Island focused on Great Black-backed Gulls (GBBG) and Herring Gulls (HERG). Field-readable leg bands are used to facilitate resights of live birds both on and off the island, and during the breeding and non-breeding season. Thousands of GBBGs and HERGs have been banded and resighted by island researchers. The project receives numerous resights from private citizens who observe banded gulls in nearly every state on the Atlantic coast (and a few inland states). The data generated from this project is used to quantify adult survival rates, dispersal patterns by sex and age, age at first reproduction, and many other aspects of gull biology. During the internship, interns will:

  • Band adult and juvenile gulls of both species under the guidance of internship mentors.
  • Conduct routine, on-island resights of banded gulls and assign nest IDs to all banded birds.
  • Map nests using GPS.
  • Monitor the reproductive success of banded gulls in key study areas via daily nest checks (# eggs, # eggs hatched, dates of hatch, chick survival to 10 days, chick fledging).
  • Record data on gull diet.
  • Participate in public outreach on and off Appledore Island.
  • Participate in weekly discussions and lectures as part of the larger SML Research Internship cohort.

Internship Mentors:
Dr. Sarah Courchesne (Professor, Northern Essex Community College)
Mary Everett (UMass Lowell)

Dates: mid-May to Mid-July, 2018 (10 weeks)

SML Research Symposium: August 11, 2018

Stipend: $150/week
Includes room & board for 10 weeks, and roundtrip vessel transportation from Portsmouth, NH to Appledore Island. Interns are responsible for their own transportation to/from Portsmouth, NH at the beginning and end of the internship.


Photo of a gull intern measuring the head-beak of a gull chick

Gull Chick Banding Week

A video summary of gull chick banding week 2015.


Dr. David Bonter (Cornell Lab of Ornithology) formerly mentored gull research on Appledore Island.

To apply:

The Gull Population Biology Internship is organized by Dr. Sarah Courchesne (Northern Essex Community College), therefore the application process is not the same as other SML internships.

All internship application materials must be sent to Dr. Sarah Courchesne
11:59pm on February 15, 2018.


  • You should be prepared to submit an application essay stating your career goals, your interest in science and ecology,  why you would benefit, and how you handle hard work and challenging situations.

  • You will need to provide contact information for an academic reference who knows you.

  • Applicants should be students in Biology, Environmental Science, or related majors.

  • Previous field/wildlife experience is helpful but not required.

  • If selected, interns must be able to work independently for long hours under challenging conditions.

Email Dr. Sarah Courchesne

Photo of David Mesta 2017 Gull Interns at SML
Read about David Mesta (SML '17, NECC '17) in the news! David was featured for his research on blood parasites in gulls on Appledore Island.