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  • Volunteer field assistants - Lance-tailed Manakin behavior (travel, food, and housing paid, with honorarium to defray personal expenses)

    • Employer: Florida State University
      Location: Isla Boca Brava, Republic of Panama
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 12/01/2022
      Open Until Filled: Yes

    Two volunteer field assistant positions are available 24 Feb to 15 Jun 2023, to take part in an ongoing behavioral study of female mate choice and male display behavior in lance-tailed manakins (Chiroxiphia lanceolata) in Panama.

    Research background: Females of this small, lekking bird “shop” among males that display in cooperative pairs on dispersed display areas. Successful applicants will be involved in work investigating how male experience affects display performance and cooperative behavior, why dominant males tolerate subordinate cooperators, and how indirect genetic benefits affect female mate choice and maternal investment. 

    Responsibilities and qualifications: All field crew members will take part in resighting color-banded birds, conducting many hour-long behavioral observations at display sites, daily maintenance of a video detection system, nest-searching through dense secondary-growth dry tropical forest, and mistnetting birds for banding and blood sampling, as well as data entry and organizational tasks. Experience in one or more of these areas is strongly preferred. Applicants should have a very strong interest in animal behavior, birds, and field biology. The full field crew is a 3-4 person team who will live and work on a remote island off of Panama's Pacific coast and share housing with close quarters.  The site may have limited internet access and cell phone reception and unpredictable power outages, as well as unpredictable twists from the challenges of travel and grocery shopping given ongoing effects of Covid 19.  In addition to the usual need for experience working in isolated field settings and/or shared living situations with little privacy, applicants should be level-headed, resilient, and responsible to work safely and thrive during their time with this project.

    Applicants should be enthusiastic, physically fit, and emotionally grounded. Expect to work long days (6am-6pm six days a week), be woken at 4 am by howler monkeys on a regular basis, and see some amazing bird behavior. A sense of humor, ability to work independently, and willingness to accommodate unpredictable changes is especially important.  Conversational Spanish ability is strongly preferred for this position. Assistants are also required to complete online animal care and use training shortly after being hired. 

    Compensation:  Food, housing, and required transportation within Panama will be provided, as well as a $750 honorarium upon completion of the field season to help defray costs of health insurance and personal purchases. Assistants will also be reimbursed for round-trip airfare to Panama City, Panama or David, Panama (up to $750) upon completion of the field season, and will need to provide their own snake gaiters (~$50) and to follow Covid testing/vaccination requirements for travel. 

    For more information about the research see (http://www.bio.fsu.edu/duval/).  Ongoing outreach efforts associated with this work include a live-streaming webcam of manakin activity run in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and archived footage from previous years can be viewed here:  http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channel/51/Lance-tailed_Manakin/ .

    To apply send a coverletter, your CV, and contact information for 3 references to Emily DuVal (ehduval@bio.fsu.edu) with the subject line "Lance-tailed Manakin Field Crew Application". Your coverletter should summarize key qualifications explaining your motivation and suitability to work on this project. Panamanian citizens are encouraged to apply, and assistants not requiring airfare to reach the Republic of Panama would receive a modestly increased personal honorarium.

    Additional questions may be directed to DR. EMILY DUVAL, Florida State University Department of Biological Science, (EM: ehduval AT bio.fsu.edu). Please use the subject line “Lance-tailed Manakin field crew application.” Review of applications will continue until positions are filled.

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