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Research Assistants for Hooded Capuchin Study (Paraguay)

Hiring Organization:
Para La Tierra

Date Posted:
2017-04-21

Position Description:
Para La Tierra is a not-for-profit conservation organization that protects habitats and species in Paraguay through scientific research and community outreach. The Para La Tierra Primate Project is focused on the study of two of Paraguay?s five primate species ? the Hooded Capuchin and the Black-&-Gold Howler Monkey. This project is the only long-term research into the behaviour and ecology of these species in Paraguay, and a unique opportunity for those interested in primatology.

The Hooded Capuchin is the only member of its genus found in Paraguay and is critically understudied in the country. This species of capuchin is virtually unknown and its conservation status remains unclear. Due to extensive habitat destruction across their range in Paraguay, population numbers are predicted to be low and getting lower. For that reason, there is an urgent need to study this fascinating species, their behaviour, and their habitat. The Black & Gold Howler Monkey is normally found throughout the Atlantic Forest and wetlands of Paraguay, however, over the last 100 years Paraguay?s forests have been devastated by the encroachment of industrial agriculture and cattle farming. In Pilar, several groups of howler monkeys have found an unusual way to survive the destruction of their natural habitat and have adapted to city life: they appear to be thriving in the concrete jungle!

For a limited time only, the capuchin studies of the Para La Tierra Primate Project will be based at Pro Cosara, a property within the largest remaining fragment of the critically endangered Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest in Paraguay. This year, Para La Tierra has joined forces with Pro Cosara to provide a scientific basis for conservationist claims that the continued existence of the park is vital for the ecology not just of the immediate surroundings, but for the world at large.
Our main priorities are:

1. Monitoring home range, forest strata use and mapping of sleeping and feeding sites.
2. Determining group demographics, dietary diversity and foraging techniques.
3. Collecting faecal samples for future parasitological analysis.

The urban howler monkey project is based in the city of Pilar and is the only study of urban dwelling primates in the county. The aims of this project are:

1. Monitoring of the groups to establish group demography, home range and territoriality, use of anthropogenic structures and diet.
2. Determining activity budgets, dominance hierarchies and social networks.
3. Collecting faecal and urine samples for future parasitological, hormonal and genetic analysis.

Para La Tierra needs volunteer research assistants to assist with the data collection for these important projects. Volunteer research assistants will work collaboratively with the Primate Project Leader, Rebecca Smith PhD candidate with the University of Aberdeen. Duties will include: following monkeys through the dense Atlantic Forest; carrying out observational follows capuchins, recording location, interactions and movements, marking feeding trees, camera trapping and collecting faecal samples.


This is an excellent opportunity for someone preparing for further study in primatology or wild animal behaviour. This program will give you first-hand experience of life on a research station as you have the chance to explore both the critically endangered Atlantic Forest and the city of Pilar, while learning the skills you need to progress in your biology career. You will gain experience in tracking and observing wild primates both in their natural habitat and in the anthropogenic environment, scan and focal sampling data collection techniques, techniques for collection and storage of faecal samples and seed identification from faeces, camera trapping and use of GPS units and mapping software.

Paraguay remains one of the least visited countries in South America yet is also amongst the most friendly, safe and traditional. Paraguay is perfect for an adventurer ready to explore a different world off the beaten track.

In order to participate in the trips to Pro Cosara you must arrive in Pilar at least 2 days before the start date of the trip. During your time Pilar you will input and organize the data collected at Pro Cosara and collect data for the Urban Howler Monkey Project.

We are looking for volunteer research assistants to start as soon as possible and applicants who can stay a minimum of 3 momnths will be preferred. So if you're motivated to do something 'Para La Tierra' [For the Earth] and make a real contribution to conservation in a little-known corner of South America, then send your CV to paralatierra.py@gmail.com

Qualifications/Experience:
Qualifications:

Required:
- Be physically fit, and capable of undertaking long hours of fieldwork in hot/humid conditions.
- Be capable of team work and following instructions.
- Have a background in biology/anthropology/zoology/psychology or a related field.
- Be interested in primate behaviour, ecology, and conservation.
- Be hardworking, trustworthy, and disciplined in following field procedures.
- Enjoy being outdoors and experiencing the tropical rainforest. (If you prefer to try field work with home comforts you can take part in the howler monkey project only).

Preferred:
- Knowledge of animal behaviour and data collection preferred but not required.

Salary/funding:
Costs -

$875 per month for the 1st 2 months and $825 for each subsequent month. There is a 25% discount for South American nationals. This price includes all of your living costs during your stay with us. The meeting point is the bus terminal in Pilar. You?ll get three meals a day, a bed in shared accommodation with hot showers and access to WiFi. The fee also covers small administrative costs associated with your stay, and a small contribution to Para La Tierra's conservation and education projects.

Term of Appointment:
Minimum 3 month commitment

Contact Information:
Karina Atkinson
Pilar, Ñeembucu Ñeembucu
Paraguay

Telephone Number:
+59585260074

Website:
http://www.paralatierra.org

E-mail Address:
paralatierra.py@gmail.com

Questions and Comments

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.