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  • Shorebird Field Technician - southwest Alaska

    • Employer: University of Massachusetts, Amherst
      Location: Alaska
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 03/20/2023
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Job Summary

    The Senner Lab in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is seeking to hire one seasonal field technician to assist with research on the movement ecology of long-distance migratory shorebirds in southcentral and southwestern Alaska. The primary project goal is to investigate the fall migratory strategies of six shorebird species that breed in Alaska and migrate south using different flyways. Each species will be tracked, using satellite GPS transmitters, from two different breeding sites to capture potential intraspecific differences. In 2023, we will target Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa spp.) that breed in the Cook Inlet, on the Alaska Peninsula, and in the interior Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region. The field technician will assist with all aspects of fieldwork, with opportunities for learning research skills throughout the season.

    This is an intro-level position. Bird handling experience not required - more important is willingness to work long days of bog-tromping, contribution to a healthy and safe working/living environment. Applicant will work alongside myself (1st year PhD student in the Senner Lab at UMass) and one UMass undergraduate student. Field sites will be varied, and our team will move around southwest AK quite a bit - so strong applicants will also have good organizational and planning skills to help with the many logistics of field prep.

    Essential Functions

    • Search for shorebirds nests in bog and tundra habitat.
    • Capture the breeding of shorebirds using mist nets and bow nets; banding and tagging individuals with GPS transmitters.
    • Conduct shorebird and habitat surveys on beaches and intertidal mudflats.
    • Data collection and methodical recording.
    • Field trip preparation for 10 – 14 day trips to semi-remote settings: meal planning and food shopping, gear inventory and care.


    Other Functions

    • Work collaboratively and effectively to promote teamwork, diversity, equality and inclusiveness. 
    • Work in partnership with colleagues within the CNS community and across the campus to support the Dean’s strategic priorities.
    • Perform other duties as assigned in support of the mission and goals of the College of Natural Sciences.


    Minimum Qualifications

    • Interest in ecology, field biology, migration, animal movement tracking, and/or related fields.
    • Ability to walk long hours in physically demanding setting, walking on uneven terrain and in wetlands (proper footwear will be provided).
    • Strong work ethic, eagerness to learn fieldwork and research methods, and ability to work well on a team of three in challenging physical conditions and sometimes stressful scenarios.
    • Interest in helping mentor undergraduate technician, who will join later in the field season.
    • Willingness to work in semi-remote and remote settings (i.e., accessible by either commercial airline and/or bush plane), with limited access to cell phone service or internet.


    Preferred Qualifications

    • Previous experience with outdoor fieldwork and following research protocol in remote settings.
    • Previous experience handling birds or participating in bird capture and banding.
    • Familiarity with (or desire to learn) interpretation of bird behavior, identification of birds from sight and sound, and nest searching.
    • Familiarity with Alaska tundra / muskeg bog habitat and species.
    • Experience with organizing field logistics: meal planning, shopping, and living in group settings.


    Physical Demands/Working Conditions

    This position requires working in a wide range of conditions – including bright sun, biting insects, rain, cold temperatures, and walking long distances on grassy tussocks and in wetlands. Housing conditions will vary depending on field site, but often be in close quarters with field team.


    Additional Details

    Field lodging, transportation, meals, and all necessary equipment will be provided.


    Work Schedule

    Schedule is tentatively Monday - Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm, this project requires flexibility to work at various times of the day throughout the season; work hours during bird trapping efforts can run late into the night or require early morning effort.

    This is a temporary, unbenefited position (5/10/2023 – 7/10/2023).


    Salary Information



    Special Instructions to Applicants

    To apply, please follow this link and the instructions on UMass website. Review of applicants will begin 3/17, candidates encouraged to apply by then.

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