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Volunteer research assistant: Lemur community ecology in Kianjavato, Madagascar

Hiring Organization:
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, University of Calgary

Date Posted:
2014-03-25

Position Description:
A collaborative project between researchers at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium (OHDZA) Center for Conservation and Research, Madagascar Biodiversity Partnership, and the University of Calgary seeks a qualified and highly motivated research assistant. The project involves following social groups of critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata), along with red-fronted (Eulemur rufifrons) and red-bellied lemurs (E. rubriventer) in the Kianjavato-Vatovavy landscape in southeastern Madagascar. An additional objective is to obtain population density estimates through line-transect surveys.

The primary responsibilities of the volunteers include: 1) collect behavioral, feeding, and ranging data on two social groups up to 5 days/week, up to 9 hours/day; 2) conduct line-transect surveys (schedule to be determined); 3) download climate data from weather stations in established vegetation plots and at the main research station every two weeks; and 4) enter and transmit data to the principal investigators via internet every 2-4 weeks. Most of these tasks are carried out with the assistance of research technicians and other volunteers, and there is some flexibility in scheduling.

Volunteers will be trained by the current field team. Volunteers also will work with an experienced and very helpful local team of assistants for all activities. Some English is spoken by the team, but French language skills will be useful; it should also be possible for volunteers to learn to communicate in Malagasy during their stay. The terrain is very steep and the weather is typically very warm and humid, particularly December-April. Adequate physical fitness to follow animals in these conditions is required. There are no dangerous animals, except the rare spider or scorpion. However, precautions should be made to avoid tropical diseases (e.g., malaria) – volunteers should ensure that they have the proper vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. There are nine total lemur species present, and a rich variety of other endemics (birds, chameleons, tenrecs, etc.).

Research is based at the newly-established Kianjavato Ahmanson Field Station (KAFS). Infrastructure upgrades are ongoing, however conditions are currently relatively rustic. Volunteers will sleep in their own tents (must be max. two-person size) under a fixed shelter, and meals are basic camp fare (be prepared to eat rice at each meal). There is generally good cellular phone reception at the station and in some parts of the forest. Volunteers will need to obtain their own phones and will have to pay for their own calls (even international rates are reasonable). Solar electricity is available to power laptops, recharge batteries, etc. on a restricted basis. Internet will only be available during twice monthly trips to larger towns (one trip per month will be paid for by the project).

Qualifications/Experience:
As indicated, adequate physical fitness is required. We prefer volunteers with at least a BA or BSc in the biological or environmental sciences (including biological anthropology). Some independent research experience will be an advantage, as will work or travel experience in tropical countries. A willingness to work in isolated conditions, the ability to solve problems independently, and dedication to a positive and respectful working environment are required.

Salary/funding:
No salary is offered.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
No salary or international travel is offered, but in-country permits, food, and necessary in-country transportation will be provided.

Term of Appointment:
A six-month commitment is required (April-September 2014). Volunteers are welcome to stay longer; please indicate this in your letter of interest.

Application Deadline:
The position is available immediately and will be filled by the first qualified applicant.

Comments:
Applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and contact information for two references to Steig Johnson (steig.johnson@ucalgary.ca) and Sheila Holmes (holmess@ucalgary.ca). Note that you will receive an auto-reply from Sheila Holmes as she is currently in the field.

Contact Information:
Steig Johnson
Department of Anthropology, 2500 University Dr NW, University of Calgary
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4
Canada

Telephone Number:
+1 (403) 220-6070

Fax Number:
+1 (403) 284-5467

Website:
http://www.madagascarpartnership.org/home/volunteer_program2

E-mail Address:
steig.johnson@ucalgary.ca

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Questions about a specific job listing should be directed to the contact person listed for that job. Questions and comments about using the Primate-Jobs web site can be directed to Joe Kemnitz at kemnitz@primate.wisc.edu.