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  • Volunteer Field Technician – Samsonvale Bird Project (brood parasitism research)


    James Kennerley
    • Employer: University of Cambridge/Cornell Lab of Ornithology
      Location: near Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
      Country: Australia
      Last Date to Apply: 04/19/2019
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Project Title: Brood Parasite-Host Interactions between Australian Cuckoos and their Hosts

    Location: near Brisbane, QLD, Australia

    Duration: 4–5 months (August 2019 – December 2019)

    Job Type: Volunteer

    Number of Openings: 8

    Description: Volunteer field assistants required from ~ Aug 10 2019 – Dec 15 2019 for behavioural / evolutionary ecology research in Queensland, Australia.

    Volunteers are sought to assist with a long-term project investigating brood parasite-host interactions between cuckoos and their passerine hosts, and especially host defences against brood parasitism, at a site near Brisbane, QLD, Australia. In the fifth year of the project, we will continue to collect long-term monitoring data on multiple species of cuckoo and host, run behavioural experiments, colour-band individuals and collect genetic samples. Have a look at our Instagram, @samsonvalebirdproject, for photos and to get a general idea of what to expect. 

    This collaborative study is led by James Kennerley, a PhD student at the University of Cambridge, Dr William Feeney, at Griffith University (for additional information on Dr. Feeney’s work, see http://www.williamefeeney.com) and Prof Mike Webster at Cornell University/Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology (for additional information on Prof Webster’s work, see http://pages.nbb.cornell.edu/neurobio/websterlab/). We encourage volunteers to become involved in the research whenever possible (e.g. see Feeney et al. 2018 doi:10.20938/afo35008012).

    Primary duties include: nest searching and monitoring, behavioural observations, territory mapping, habitat surveys and data entry. There will also be opportunity for mist-netting and colour-banding of birds and collection of blood samples. Any previous experience in these areas is desirable but not essential, and there will be ample opportunities to develop these skills. The study site is rugged, hot, and venomous snakes and ticks are common. Applicants should be confident in their ability to hike rough areas off trail, withstand hot and humid conditions and be able to live and work well with others. A typical working day will begin at dawn and continue on-site until late morning, followed by data entry.

    Accommodation is provided in a large house. Essential costs (accommodation, food, transport and bills) are covered by the project, but we are not able to cover flights to and from Brisbane. These openings will ideally suit recent Biology/Ecology graduates who would like to gain field experience before continuing with post-graduate research. Previous participants have found this to be an excellent opportunity to mix with like-minded recent graduates, post grads and post docs from several nationalities, and to develop the skills needed to take your career to the next level.

    The site boasts fantastic and varied wildlife (e.g. eBird lists the site within the top ten sites for bird diversity in Queensland with over 240 species having been recorded), and iconic species such as Koala, Platypus and Short-beaked Echidna. Furthermore, the site is in close proximity to rainforests, beaches and Brisbane’s CBD, all of which can be explored on rest days – typically one day per week, but sometimes we venture farther afield and camp for a couple of nights (see the Instagram for photos of what we get up to). We also work closely with the local banding group so there are opportunities to join in with their activities as well.

    Applications are welcome until the positions are filled. Interviews will commence 19th March. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified after positions are filled.

    Qualifications: Previous experience with nest searching is highly desired. Experience conducting bird surveys is also desirable and banding experience is also a plus. Applicants must be self-motivated, able to maintain a positive attitude, be interested in field biology/birds and be able to get along well with others. The last few seasons have been great fun, and we hope this one will be the same!

    To apply, please send a covering letter detailing your interests and any previous experience as well as dates of availability, CV, and contact details of two referees to James Kennerley and William Feeney (email: samsonvalebirdproject@gmail.com). Applicants are also encouraged to include a link to their eBird profile and/or examples of field notes in their application.

    Please feel free to enquire with any questions pertinent to the application process or on the project in general.



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