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Field Assistant: comparative socioecology of monogamous titi and saki monkeys of Ecuador

Hiring Organization:
Dr. Eduardo Fernandez-Duque- University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Anthony Di Fiore- University of Texas at Austin

Date Posted:

Position Description:
We are searching for a highly motivated and self-reliant field assistant to work on a comparative study of red titi monkeys (Callicebus discolor) and equatorial saki monkeys (Pithecia aequatorialis) in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Titis and sakis have both been classified as socially monogamous and yet they show distinct differences in their social behavior, level of paternal care, and degrees of territoriality. Our study is investigating pair-mate relationships and the relative investment of the sexes in territorial behavior. Assistants will be responsible for collecting social behavior, foraging, ranging, demographic, and life history data from three titi groups and two saki groups. Assistants will be trained in all relevant data collection and archiving methods, including behavioral sampling on digital recorders and/or handheld computers, radio-telemetry, database manipulation, etc.

Assistants will not be allowed to collect data for publication independent of our research project – e.g. for their own theses. Ideally, this experience will be seen as an internship for your own future research. We do, however, strongly encourage assistants to work with us coauthoring papers based on or stemming from the data they assist in collecting. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree that involves fieldwork in the tropics, this will be a fantastic experience.

Applicants should have a BS/BA in Primatology, Animal Behavior, Biological Anthropology, Biology, Ecology, or a related field. Although previous experience with primates is not necessary, previous experience with animals, camping, or working outdoors is strongly preferred. The ideal applicant should have prior experience with living or working in a foreign country, preferably a developing country in the tropics. Knowledge of Spanish is helpful, but not necessary. Experience with collecting systematic data in a scientific context is preferred, and a strong interest in primate behavior and ecology a must. The position requires a substantial amount of data management, therefore the ideal candidate must be comfortable using Excel and either familiar or interested in learning to use databases. In general, applicants must be in good physical and mental condition; feel comfortable being far away from family and friends; be emotionally mature, energetic, and VERY patient; have an excellent eye for detail; not be afraid of bugs, snakes, or being alone in the forest; have very good social skills, especially in small groups; and be able to maintain a positive and humorous attitude towards challenging and tiring work.

This work will be rigorous and demanding. Assistants will be expected to work about 11 hours in the field each day, about 20 days out of each month. The terrain in the research site is quite hilly in places, seasonally floods in others, and the climate is often hot, humid, and rainy – this is a rainforest just south of the Equator in which 3 to 4 meters of rain falls a year – thus persistence, maturity, dedication, and good humor are very important. Preference will be given to applicants with previous outdoor experience in demanding environments.

Applicants must pay their own round-trip airfare to Quito, Ecuador (cost varies) and for travel within Ecuador to and from the research station (circa US$200). Assistants are also responsible for the costs of obtaining a visa to work in Ecuador (circa US$350), for health insurance and immunizations that permit that work (proof of yellow fever immunization is a must; vaccination against typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, etc., are all also strongly recommended), their own personal field clothes and gear (backpack, insect repellent, digital watch with a chronometer and timer, headlamp, water bottles, etc). Successful applicants will be expected to cover their first two months of station fees ($32/day=$960) in advance as soon as they arrive. After those two months, the remaining station fees will be covered by the investigators. Station fees include on-site lodging, laundry, and three meals daily. In other words, there are hardly any additional costs while at the station once the fees are covered.

Term of Appointment:
Minimum 6 month commitment, longer commitments preferred.

Application Deadline:
Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

Please send an email to Anthony Di Fiore ( and Eduardo Fernandez-Duque (
Please submit to BOTH people the following documentation in ONE single PDF file saved with your name in the file name (e.g. “JohnSmith.pdf”).

1. CV including relevant coursework, previous field/outdoor experience, and where/how you can be contacted
2. Letter of interest. Please include dates you are available and the earliest you could be traveling to the field.
3. Contact information for three people(preferably professors or research supervisors with whom you’ve worked closely) who can provide information about your experiences, skills, and training.

Contact Information:
Please direct all initial inquiries regarding the application process or project to Eduardo Fernandez-Duque and Anthony Di Fiore
431 University Museum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104

Telephone Number:

Fax Number:


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