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Bat Research Assistant Needed (Volunteer)

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Location Texas - America North
Type Fixed Term and Permanent Roles
Status Full Time
Level First Level
Deadline 20/02/2010
Company Name Bat Conservation International (BCI)
Contact Name
Website Further Details / Applications
Bat Conservation International (BCI) logo
Directory Entry :
Also Listing:

Dates: April 15 – August 15 , 2010 (minimum of one month commitment)

Location: San Saba, Texas 2 hours NW of Austin in the Edward's Plateau (Hill Country of Texas)

Minimum Requirements: High school diploma. Looking for a college student or recent college graduate with a career interest in wildlife biology, ecology or conservation biology

Compensation: Room, board and transportation within field site will be provided. Research assistants will be responsible for a three-series rabies vaccination, transportation to/from Austin, TX, and all meals/entertainment when outside of the field site.

Application: Please send résumé, one page description of research interests, contact information for two references (no letters required), and dates available to work to Elizabeth Braun de Torrez at ecbraun@bu.edu

Project Description:

As landscapes change due to agricultural expansion and intensification, there are diminishing examples of intact riparian woodland habitat where many bat species take refuge and forage. The pecan agroecosystem, which comprises over 240,000 acres in Texas, presents a unique example of riparian woodland habitat for roosting and foraging bats, through its integration with riparian plant communities and its structural complexity in an agricultural landscape. Reciprocally, there is anecdotal evidence that bats play a role in the control of two destructive nut feeders, the pecan nut casebearer moth (Acrobasis nuxvorella) and the hickory shuckworm moth (Cydia caryana), along with other pests, which are typically controlled with a variety of synthetic pesticides, but no comprehensive studies have confirmed this or quantified their beneficial impact. With increasing documentation of the detrimental effects of agrochemical inputs on wildlife and findings that loss of habitat is the primary factor in species declines, creative alternatives to traditional farming practices that incorporate biological pest controllers and encourage biodiversity are essential.

The aim of this study is to assess factors that influence habitat selection by roosting and foraging bats in a pecan agroecosystem and to investigate the potential ecosystem services provided by bats through their predation upon pecan pests. Fieldwork from the past two summers have documented the presence of five bat species in the orchards: Brazilian free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis, cave myotis, Myotis velifer, evening bat, Nycticeus humeralis, eastern red bat, Lasiurus borealis, and tricolored bat, Perimyotis subflavus; preliminary results suggest that both organic and commercial orchards are important sources of habitat for bats in comparison to the arid surrounding landscape.

Methods: To determine habitat use by each bat species, bat diversity and foraging behavior will be documented through use of mist nets, ultrasonic acoustic monitoring and radio tracking. Bats will be captured and fitted with a tiny radiotransmitter and tracked for the duration of the transmitter (5-14 days) to assess both foraging and roosting behavior. Prey availability will be sampled with a variety of insect traps. To evaluate pest control services, fecal samples will be collected from under bat roosts and from individual bats and later analyzed in the lab for the presence of pecan pests. Bat roosts will be censused at dusk with the use of thermal imaging cameras. Various caves in Texas will also be censused with thermal imaging cameras as part of an ongoing monitoring program of Brazilian free-tailed bat maternity colonies.

Assistant Responsibilities: The person selected for this project will primarily assist Elizabeth Braun de Torrez, a Ph.D. candidate from Boston University, in data collection and analysis. The assistant will learn how to safely capture and handle bats, as well as gain experience using monitoring techniques such as radio tracking, acoustic monitoring and thermal imaging cameras. The assistant will be expected to work long hours both at night and during the day, in a hot, arid environment and should be in good physical condition for fieldwork. For motivated individuals, an independent project within the overall framework of the project is an option. No prior experience with bats is necessary but the selected individual will be required to be immunized against rabies.

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