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Field Assistant - Tufted capuchins in Iguazu National Park, Argentina
University of Goettingen
We are looking for highly motivated volunteer field assistants for a project on the ecology and evolution of female mating strategies in tufted capuchin monkeys in Iguazú National Park, Argentina. The current project is a three-year funded study that focuses on the factors influencing female mating strategies in this species by combining (a) behavioural and experimental observations with analyses of (b) reproductive hormonal profiles, (c) bio-acoustics and (d) genetics. Specifically, the present project analyzes direct and indirect components underpinning female sexual preferences via a multidisciplinary approach that involves the manipulation of the degree of males' control over food and examination of the potential impact of indirect genetic benefits. The field period will last from late-April to the end of August 2013. Assistants will be trained to recognize all adult individuals in the study groups, collect behavioral data via different sampling methods (e.g., focal, scan and ad libitum sampling), conduct controlled filed experiments, collect and process fecal samples for hormonal and genetic analysis, and make audio recordings of vocalizations. Assistants will also be expected to keep up with data entry and offer assistance while in the field to other concurrent projects being conducted with capuchins. The assistant will work approximately 25 days per month, spending up to 8 hours per day in the forest and an additional two hours or so per day in the lab entering data into spreadsheets and conducting hormone extractions.
The project will be based out of the Centro de Investigaciones Ecológicas Subtropicales, a field station located within walking distance of the Iguazú Falls. Assistants will spend some nights at the field station, and some in the nearby town of Puerto Iguazú, which is connected to the park by frequent bus service. All those participating in the project will share some “household” responsibilities, including cooking, food shopping, and keeping shared spaces tidy.
This experience can be seen as an internship for your own future research. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree that involves fieldwork on wild primates, this will be a fantastic experience. We strongly encourage assistants to develop and conduct an independent research project (e.g., for a thesis) as long as data collection and observation protocols do not interfere with other responsibilities.
Although not strictly required, assistants with BS/BA in Biology, Ecology, Animal Behavior, Physical Anthropology, or a related field are preferred. Previous experience in field work with animals, traveling in foreign countries, and an ability to speak basic Spanish are also advantageous. Assistants will need to be prepared to live in close quarters with other participants of the project, therefore being cooperative, responsible, and hard-working are essential. Experience with collecting behavioral data is preferred, and a motivated interest in primate behavioral ecology is a must.
Time in the field can be quite uncomfortable, and you will be expected to work rain or shine. This portion of the project will be conducted during the Argentine winter, when days are sometimes quite cold and rainy, but hot and humid days can also be expected. Mosquitoes are often very intense, and you may regularly encounter such dangers as bees, wasps, and venomous snakes. Yellow fever, dengue fever, and leishmaniasis are all real risks in the research area. In addition, applicants must be in good physical and mental condition, be very patient, be self-reliant when alone in the forest, and not be afraid of sporadic encounters with snakes and big cats.
The position does not pay a salary, but all lodging and food costs while working on the project will be covered.
provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Transportation, meals, and lodging while at the field site will be covered, but the assistant will be responsible for all travel to and from the field site. Contingent upon the availability of funds AND completion of the entire field season, a portion of the transportation costs may be reimbursed, although this cannot be guaranteed at this time. All equipment needed to work on the project will be provided. Assistants will be required to have their own health insurance and should have all vaccinations up to date.
Term of Appointment:
Late April or early May until the end of August 2013
Commitment to work through the end of the field season is absolutely essential.
If interested, please email a cover letter indicating your previous experience and reason for applying, a CV, and the names and contact information for two academic references to the email address below, with the subject line “tufted capuchins”. Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions.
Goettingen, none 37077
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