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Field Assistant in Behavioral Ecology


Villanova University




Dominican Republic

Last Date to Apply:

26 Mar 2018


SUMMARY: 1 volunteer research assistant is needed for approximately 9 weeks from May 6 – Jul 8, 2018 to assist a Master’s student investigating behavioral interactions and vocalizations of todies in the Dominican Republic.


ORGANIZATION: Curry lab, Villanova University, Villanova, PA


RESEARCH LOCATION: Jarabacoa, La Vega, Dominican Republic


POSITION DESCRIPTION: The volunteer field assistant will be trained in behavioral sampling techniques and monitoring protocols in the field, including vocal playback experiments (re-sighting color-banded birds, recording behavioral observations using a voice recorder), nest searching, nest monitoring (nest checks), and occasional banding (color-banding adults and chicks, morphometric measurements, bleeding birds for genetic sampling, **NOTE** banding will be minimal and the majority of banding will be done by myself with minimal training. This position has an emphasis on behavioral field work). The field crew will work 5-6 days per week with the sixth day typically devoted to service and conservation projects overseen by local partners. This work may involve work at newly-established breeding bird sanctuary on private lands near Armando Bermúdez National Park with projects involving nest box construction and installation for cavity-nesting species (i.e. parrots, trogons, swallows).


LOGISTICS & COMPENSATION: Accommodations will be provided at a local ecolodge in the town of Jarabacoa (Rancho Baiguate). Meals, consisting of typical Dominican food, will be provided to the volunteer at no cost during their stay. Reimbursement will be provided for food expenses for daily field trips to distant sites. All costs for in-country transportation and lodging will be provided by the project (with the exception of recreational trips on off days). Transportation to field sites (rural farms) will be mostly be by vehicle. No funds are available for air travel to/from the Dominican Republic, and volunteers are expected to cover these costs. The target start date for this position is May 6th, 2018 (flexible) and the assistant must commit to a minimum of 8 weeks on the project, although 9 is ideal.


FIELD STATION & AMENITIES: Assistants should expect to share a dormitory-style room with a 1-3 roommates. Potable water, (cold) showers, and wireless internet are available at the ecolodge.


QUALIFICATIONS & EXPECTATIONS: Competitive candidates for this position will have demonstrated experience with wildlife research in the field. Some experience banding and nest-searching is preferred, although not required. The applicant must be in good physical condition with a willingness to tolerate difficult working conditions. We regularly hike 10 km each day, often carrying 20-30 lbs of equipment. Terrain includes steep, hilly slopes and rocky creek beds. The applicant must be willing to take behavioral observations which often involves sitting still in the sun for 20-30 minute periods and maintaining concentration on the focal birds' activities. Strong organizational skills are expected for this position to adequately manage data collection and entry as well as the ability to work independently at times. Functional verbal communication skills in Spanish is preferred since the volunteer will spend most of the time working in a team setting with the possibility of a Dominican technician, as well as communicating with private land owners and our conservation partners.


OTHER COMMENTS: This position is ideal for undergraduates or recent graduates looking for experience in field ecology, wildlife sciences, and conservation biology for their careers.


Please send…
(1) A one-page cover letter detailing your interest in the position and summarizing your relevant background and professional goals. I especially want to know how you see this experience benefiting you and moving your career goals forward.
(2) A resume or CV detailing your experiences relevant to the qualifications discussed above (2 page max).
(3) Information for 2-3 references who, preferably, know your work habits in a field or laboratory/office setting. Provide name, title, and email for each of these persons.


Materials must be received by Mar 26th 2018 to guarantee consideration, though interviews may begin sooner, so there is an advantage to applying early. Applicants will be reviewed based on a first-come basis. Decisions will be made when a qualified candidates is found, following phone/Skype interviews and consulting references.


Email all materials as a single PDF file attachment using the subject header "Volunteer Research Asssistant Application" to:


Holly Garrod
Department of Biology
Villanova University
Email: hgarrod@villanova.edu