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Volunteer field assistant: titi monkeys in Peruvian Amazon

Hiring Organization:
German Primate Center (DPZ)

Date Posted:
2018-02-06

Position Description:
I am looking for field assistants for my PhD research on mating system in red titi monkey (Callicebus cupreus) in Peruvian Amazon. Assistants will help me in all-day follows of titi monkey groups to collect fecal samples and behavioral and ecological data. A minimum of ca. 2 months commitment is required (longer stays are preferred), starting from June 2018 and beyond.

The aim of the project is to examine whether in red titi monkey social monogamy (pair-living) is associated with genetic monogamy and to investigate the behavioral mechanisms and ecological context of pair-living. Working together with local field assistants (usually in groups of 2-3 persons), we follow habituated titi monkey family groups to collect fecal samples for future genetic analysis, observe behavior, record ranging data, and collect ecological data.

The research station (Estación Biológica Quebrada Blanco, EBQB) is located in Peruvian Amazon, ca. 90 km from Iquitos, in tropical rainforest of the tierra firme-type. The area has a very high diversity of mammals, birds, plants, etc. The camp is remote but comfortable. Housing is equipped with electricity (from solar panels), kitchen with a stove, flush toilet, and a small library. There is no internet or mobile phone connection, only a satphone for emergency. Every month we spend 3 weeks at the station and then return to Iquitos for about a week to rest, get internet and buy supplies.

This will be a great opportunity for someone interested in pursuing graduate programs in primatology, animal behavior, or other related fields that involve fieldwork in the tropics, and wishing to gain field work experience. Assistants will be trained in all relevant data collection methods (behavioral sampling, non-invasive sample collection, ecological sampling, etc.) and will get fantastic experience working with well-habituated monkeys in Amazon rainforest.

Assistants are encouraged to work with us on coauthoring papers based on the data they assist in collecting. Opportunities for developing a project for bachelor/master thesis or further collaboration can also be discussed.

Qualifications/Experience:
Field work can be both physically and mentally demanding and is not suited for everyone. Our work schedule is tough: we work 5-6 days a week, starting at dawn and following the monkeys for up to 11-12 hours a day (plus several hours a week for data entry). At times, field work can be stressful, extremely boring (when monkeys rest for 3+ hours straight) and isolating. The climate is very hot and humid, the terrain can be muddy and dense, there are nasty bugs around, etc. There is not much personal space, and no communication with the outside world (except for satphone) during 3-weeks shift. So this position is for someone wishing to get field research experience; if your goal is something else this position is probably not for you.

Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in biology, animal behavior, primatology, or related field. Some kind of previous experience in field work, working outdoors, camping, preferably in a developing country, is mandatory. Strong interest in animal behavior and field work is presumed. Knowledge of Spanish is a huge plus, as our local field assistants don't speak any English at all.

Overall, applicants should be:

- in good physical and mental condition
- able to work in very hot and humid environment
- able to work with a small team of people for long periods of time
- open to communicate with people to solve problems
- be emotionally mature and very very patient and have a sense of humor
- not to be afraid of bugs or being alone in the forest
- willing to learn at least some very basic Spanish (preferably prior to coming to Peru)
- fell comfortable with not having a lot of personal space and being far away from friends, family, and "normal" life

Salary/funding:
This is a volunteer position with no salary. There are no station fees, but applicants should cover food costs (ca. $130 per month), monthly trips to and from Iquitos ($6-7) and airfare to Iquitos, Peru. Assistants are also responsible for the costs of obtaining health insurance and vaccinations (yellow fever is a must) and personal field clothes.

Applicants are encouraged to apply for travel grants to cover travel costs (options depend on your country of origin) and will get all the necessary help from me with the applications. Depending from pending grants for 2018, funds to cover food costs and partly travel costs might be provided.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Gear related to data collection (notebooks, GPS units, flagging tapes, etc) will be provided. Binoculars and chronometers can be provided if needed, but better if you have your own binoculars and digital watch with a chronometer (the ones we have at the station are not in the best condition).

Term of Appointment:
ca. 2 months minimum (longer stays preferred), starting from June 2018 and beyond (field work ends in December 2018)

Application Deadline:
Rolling. As long as you can see this posting, applications will be considered

Comments:
Please contact me if you have any questions about the project. To apply, please email me the following documents in ONE single PDF file:
1. A letter of interest describing why you are applying for this position, how this opportunity fits your ambitions and plans. Please include dates you are available and how long you would like to stay. Feel free to include any other information that might be relevant.
2. CV including relevant education and previous field/outdoor experience.
3. Email of 1-2 referees (your supervisors or professors).

Contact Information:
Sofya Dolotovskaya
Kellnerweg 4
Göttingen, none 37077
Germany

Website:
http://www.dpz.eu/en/home.html

E-mail Address:
s.dolotovskaya@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.