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    FIELD ASSISTANT: ruff (Calidris pugnax) breeding and movement ecology project in Oulu, Finland

    • Employer: Max Planck Institute for Ornithology
      Location: Oulu, Finland
      Country: Finland
      Last Date to Apply: 03/19/2020
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    We are seeking a field assistant with an interest in fieldwork experience and avian breeding ecology. The field assistant will collect data related to two PhD projects on ruff breeding and movement ecology in Finland. This research is a collaboration of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology (Germany) and the University of Oulu (Finland).

    Background: Ruffs are sexually dimorphic lekking waders with a fascinating mating system making them a classic model organism for evolutionary and behavioural ecologists alike. Ruff males have three Alternative Reproductive Tactics (ARTs), that is ruff males differ in morphology and reproductive behaviour to avoid direct competition. Part of our lab focuses on understanding the maintenance of these distinct ARTs on an evolutionary time scale. In order to do this, two PhD students are researching the wild demographics and male movement ecology of ruffs.

    Activities: The position starts 27 April 2020 and requires a minimum stay of 2 months.  The housing is in close proximity to the field-site, in the Liminganlahti area, about 1 hour away from Oulu, Finland.


    In the first part of the field season, the field assistant will do regular lek observations, focusing on male courtship displays, mating events and lek visitations. The field assistant will also assist in the capture and radio-tagging of lekking males. As the season progresses, the field assistant will collect ruff nesting and chick survival data. Duties during the nesting phase will include nest searching, egg measurement and transport, female ruff capture, and nest protection. During the chick rearing phase, the field assistant will assist in radio tracking of ruff chicks, capture of tagged and untagged chicks and classification of chick mortality causes. He or she will also assist in establishing a network of solar powered automated tracking stations and its regular maintenance.

    We will cover housing costs at the field-site and transportation from Munich. If eligible, the field assistant may apply for a living stipend through an Erasmus internship with the University of Oulu, otherwise we will cover essential living costs.

    Acquire skills: The field assistant will gain experience in handling, ringing, and blood sampling of live birds, as well as nest roping, specimen photography, artificial incubation, navigation with hand GPS and radio tracking of live birds.

    Required skills: The field assistant should be willing to work in harsh environmental conditions such as low and high temperatures, harsh winds, and high humidity. He or she should be able to work in the presence of biting insects and under variable/flexible schedules. The field assistant must be in good enough physical condition to walk several kilometres over muddy and uneven ground in a single day with a 10 – 18 kg of equipment on their back. Finally, they should be meticulous in note taking and data recording.   

    Contact: If you are interested or have questions please contact: Hanna Algora (halgora@orn.mpg.de) or James D.M. Tolliver (jtolliver@orn.mpg.de). When applying please include a short cover letter describing how you meet the position requirements and your CV/resume.

    For further information about our research groups visit: https://www.orn.mpg.de/Research-Group-Kuepper; https://www.oulu.fi/ecology/

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