The Marshbird Biological Assistant will support Audubon Louisiana’s Black and Yellow Rail research program in coastal Louisiana. The goals of the program are 1) to determine the population status of Black Rails across coastal Louisiana, 2) to understand important habitat and vegetation characteristics on which they depend, and 3) to understand how this habitat can be maintained through prescribed fire, and the birds’ responses. Funded through the NOAA RESTORE Science Act Grant program as a Gulf-wide collaborative research project, this research is particularly timely as the Eastern Black Rail subspecies has been recently proposed to be listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
A lack of understanding of the temporal and spatial distribution of the Black Rail (Laterallus jamaicensis) and Yellow Rail (Coturnicops noveboracensis) in Louisiana has resulted in an inability to (1) study basic aspects of their biology in this part of the range and (2) implement effective conservation measures to benefit this species. Without knowing when and where the Black an Yellow Rails occur in the state, restoration and management efforts will be unable to account for the habitat needs of these rare and declining species. This project seeks to build upon two-years of research to locate Black and Yellow Rails in coastal Louisiana, describe important habitat on which they depend, and understand their responses to fire management.
Supervised by the Director of Bird Conservation, the Marshbird Biological Assistant will work closely with Audubon Louisiana’s Marshbird Biologist to conduct point-count and drag-line surveys. By assisting with this project, the Marshbird Biological Assistant will gain experience and learn from experts in the field of conservation and avian ecology, while gaining practical skills in ornithological research, monitoring techniques, and volunteer coordination.
This position is expected to work 40 hours per week for five months between February and June 2020. Please submit a cover letter, resume, and a list of three references with your application by December 15, 2020 to:
The Marshbird Biological Assistant will:
- Conduct point count and vegetation surveys at remote sites across south Louisiana. Most point count surveys will begin one hour before sunrise or one-two hours before sunset and last 2-3 hours, preceded or followed by vegetation surveys.
- Assist in rail banding efforts 1-2 nights per week, up to 6 times per month, beginning 30 minutes after sundown and lasting +/- four hours. Most rail banding will occur on weekend evenings.
- Assist in data entry as needed.
- Be expected to travel 3-5 days per week, often staying in hotels, camp grounds, shared bunk houses, and other similar facilities to conduct field work.
Qualifications and Experience
- Must have completed a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology, Ecology, Natural Resources, Agricultural Sciences, or a related field;
- Must be willing to work long hours outside under physically demanding conditions (hot, cold, biting insects, etc.);
- Must be able to walk over a mile through various wet and dry marsh habitats. This includes tall & dense grass oftentimes with uneven footing, shallow pools, and scrubby vegetation;
- Must have strong organizational skills and great attention to detail;
- Excellent interpersonal and oral communication skills;
- Experience driving ATVs and/or operating outboard motorboats are a plus;
- Valid driver’s license and reliable personal vehicle (mileage will be reimbursed at the current Federal rate);
- Must live in, or be willing to temporarily move, to south Louisiana.
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