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Unpaid Field Assistant: Capuchin Monkey Project, Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Reference   (Please mention Stopdodo/Environment Jobs in your application)
Sectors Nature Conservation, Ecology, GIS
Type Temporary / Contract / Seasonal
Status Full Time
Level Voluntary & Interns
Deadline 21/06/2011
Company Name Dept. of Anthropology, 2500 University Dr. NW
Contact Name Fernando Campos
Website Further Details / Applications
Dept. of Anthropology, 2500 University Dr. NW logo
Also Listing:

I am looking for field assistants to help me collect data for my PhD project on white-faced capuchin movement ecology. My research project is part of a long-term study of capuchin monkeys at Santa Rosa that spans nearly 30 years and is directed by Dr. Linda Fedigan (University of Calgary).

I monitor five social groups of capuchins that are well-habituated to human observers. After an intensive training period to establish inter-observer reliability, each observer will work both alone and in pairs in the forest. Therefore, you must have a strong work ethic and be self-motivated to observe the monkeys and carry out data collection without constant supervision. Each observer will probably work 8-9 hour shifts for 4 consecutive days followed by a day off from the field for entering and cleaning data.

You would assist with a wide range of data collection, including (1) focal animal samples on individuals to record foraging behavior, travel route, and continuous activity; (2) group scans at regular intervals to record the group's geographic location and microhabitat usage, (3) visits to fruit trees; (4) phenological data on major food tree species; and (5) demographic data at monthly intervals on all study groups. I would provide all data-collection equipment. Work at the field site is physically demanding, with long work hours, steep terrain, and wet conditions. The term of appointment corresponds to the rainy season in Costa Rica. Observation conditions can be difficult during this time, with overcast skies, frequent rain showers, and many mosquitos. We carry on observing the monkeys rain or shine.

Santa Rosa, in the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, is a world-renowned research site for tropical dry-forest ecology. The infrastructure is quite good for primate field work: drinkable running water, showers with warm water and flushing toilets, reliable electricity, laundry machines, a cafeteria, beds, and fast wireless internet in the rooms. There are large supermarkets nearby in the city of Liberia, which is approximately 45 minutes from the field site by taxi.

Applicants for this position should:

1) have a positive attitude and a strong work ethic;
2) be able to commit until December 15, 2011;
3) be in good physical condition, with the ability to endure long field days in difficult conditions;
4) be comfortable spending time away from family and friends for an extended period of time;
5) speak fluent conversational English or Spanish (both languages are not required).

People with a strong fear of stinging insects or snakes should not apply, because both are plentiful in Santa Rosa. Preference will be given to applicants with past field research experience and with a strong interest in the behavioral ecology of wild animals.

No salary will be provided, but I can cover other costs (see below).

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
I can cover housing costs at the research station. Furthermore, assistants who successfully complete the term of appointment (until December 15, 2011) will have travel costs reimbursed. You will have to pay for your own food (~$150 USD per month).

Term of Appointment:
As soon as possible to December 15, 2011

Application Deadline:
Until positions are filled. Please apply as soon as possible.

If you are interested, please email me.  Please include: 

1. A short letter of interest
2. Your CV that describes any relevant coursework or research experience
3. Email contact of one referee who can comment on your background and experience. A reference from a professor or past research supervisor will carry more weight.

Contact Information:
Fernando Campos
Dept. of Anthropology, 2500 University Dr. NW
Calgary, AB T2N1N4

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