Opportunities through the CW CESU

RSOI: Develop Freshwater Sponge Monitoring Protocols for Prince William Forest Park

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Opportunity Type: Requests for Statements of Interest (RSOIs)
Submission Deadline: February 16, 2024

Prince William Forest Park contains at least one species of freshwater sponge (Ephydatia muelleri). Information on/reports of freshwater sponges are uncommon within the northern Virginia/Maryland/DC metropolitan area, and not much is known about their populations within the National Parks. They are also known to be highly susceptible to environmental impacts and are usually found in high quality waterways. From casual observations, the location, distribution, and abundance of these sponge communities appear to vary from year to year and the presence/absence of these organisms each year may have implications for the overall quality of park waterways. The protection of the Quantico Creek Watershed is called for in the park’s enabling legislation, and to preserve and protect these fragile aquatic communities, the park should better know what species are present, and wants to begin a long-term monitoring project that would track population trends over the years in conjunction with our current water quality monitoring efforts.

Objectives & Products
This project is to provide the park with recommended protocols and methodologies for park staff to initiate an in-house long-term freshwater sponge monitoring project that would assess the long-term trends of these fragile communities. It would also serve to identify the species of freshwater sponges currently within the 15+ miles of waterways of Prince William Forest Park and provide information on parkwide distribution beyond the two currently known locations.

This project would bring in researchers familiar with freshwater sponges and have them identify and inventory our species and provide the park with monitoring methodologies, protocols, recommendations, and identification/observation training. Existing Park staff will implement these recommendations so that these unique and fragile resources may be protected and sustained.

This project would provide the park with a complete inventory of freshwater sponge populations in the park including a written report and geographic information system (GIS) data layers in park-specific geodatabase format. This project will also develop a scientifically credible monitoring plan for the park to follow so that the park may actively monitor and make management decisions to continue to protect these fragile and rare aquatic communities.

Project Timeline

Funding is provided in one lump total in FY24. Project expected to begin summer of 2024 and conclude approximately 1 year from start date. However, the parties may extend the term of this Cooperative Agreement by written modification with no expectation of additional funds.

PI Requirements

Experience surveying for freshwater sponges and/or similar aquatic invertebrates and creating monitoring plans.

Funding Available

$30,525 is expected – this includes the CESU overhead rate of 17.5%. Non-federal partners within the CESU system with a current NPS master cooperative agreement are eligible to apply.

Information to include in the LOI

Letters of interest must include:

  • Name, Organization and Contact Information
  • Description of the proposed approach for conducting the project
  • Draft budget including the 17.5% CESU indirect
  • Proposed project timeline
  • Brief Statement of Qualifications (including):
    • Biographical Sketch(s) for key personnel (faculty, staff), including a description of discipline(s) of expertise. Curricula vitae can be submitted as an attachment.
    • Relevant past research projects

Evaluation Criteria

Based on a review of the Letters of Interest received, and contingent on funding, an investigator will be invited to prepare a full study proposal, schedule, and detailed budget. Letters will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Soundness and validity of the proposed approach for meeting project objectives
  • Experience with freshwater sponges
  • Ability to produce monitoring plans and demonstrated record of professional publications

NPS Contact Information
Direct questions and letters of interest to Kristen Shelton, Kristen_shelton@nps.gov. Deadline for responding to this request is February 16, 2024.