Field Assistant: Comparative Socioecology of Spider and Woolly Monkeys in Amazonian Ecuador
Hiring Organization: Dr. Anthony Di Fiore (NYU) and Andres Link (NYU)
We are searching for several self-reliant and durable field assistants to work on a field study of the comparative behavior and ecology of woolly (Lagothrix poeppigii) and spider (Ateles belzebuth) monkeys in primary rainforest at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station (TBS) in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Assistants will contribute to one of several projects focusing on these species, primarily an ongoing comparative study of social behavior, kinship, and population genetic structure in these two taxa and a study of male-male alliances, coalitionary violence, and intergroup conflict among spider monkeys. Assistants will be responsible for collecting social behavior, foraging, ranging, demographic, and life history data as well as fecal samples for hormonal and genetic analyses from multiple social groups of one or both species. Other responsibilities may include monthly plant phenological monitoring, tree and trail mapping, data entry, and opportunistic data collection for other ongoing primate studies at the site.
Assistants will not be allowed to collect data for publication independent of our research projects – e.g. for their own theses. Ideally, this experience will be seen as an internship for your own future research. We do, however, strongly encourage assistants to work with us coauthoring papers based on or stemming from the data they assist in collecting. If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree that involves fieldwork in the tropics, this should be a fantastic experience, and we hope that an assistant performing well in this position would be interested in joining Dr. Di Fiore’s research team as a graduate student.
Applicants should have a BS/BA in Biology, Ecology, Animal Behavior, Physical Anthropology, Primatology, or a related field. Although previous experience with primates is not necessary, previous experience with animals, camping, or working outdoors is strongly preferred. The ideal applicant should have prior experience with living or working in a foreign country, preferably a developing country in the tropics. Knowledge of Spanish is helpful, but not necessary. Experience with collecting systematic data in a scientific context is preferred, and a strong interest in primate behavior and ecology a must. In general, applicants must be in good physical and mental condition; feel comfortable being far away from family and friends; be emotionally mature, energetic, and very patient; have an excellent eye for detail; not be afraid of bugs, snakes, or being alone in the forest; have very good social skills, especially in small groups; and be able to maintain a positive and humorous attitude towards challenging and tiring work. These requirements are necessary for YOUR benefit as well as ours. If you think that you may not fit any of the above criteria, please do not apply!
This work will be rigorous and demanding. Assistants will be expected to work about 12 hours in the field each day, about 25 days out of each month. The terrain in the research site is quite hilly in places, seasonally floods in others, and the climate is often hot, humid, and rainy – this is a rainforest just South of the Equator in which close to four meters of rain falls a year – thus persistence, maturity, dedication, and good humor are very important. Preference will be given to applicants with previous outdoor experience in demanding environments.
Applicants must pay their own round-trip airfare to Ecuador (cost varies) and for travel within Ecuador to and from the research station (circa US$150). Assistants are also responsible for the costs of obtaining a visa to work in Ecuador (circa US$350), for health insurance and immunizations that permit that work (proof of yellow fever immunization is a must; vaccination against typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, etc., are all also strongly recommended), their own personal field clothes and gear, and for daily station fees of US$30 per day (fee includes on-site lodging, laundry, and three meals daily). For highly qualified candidates, partial funding may be available to offset some of the costs of station fees after completing 3 months on the project.
Term of Appointment:
Minimum 6 month commitment; 12 month commitment preferred.
Applications will be considered until all positions are filled.
Applicants will be considered year-round for positions beginning in December 2009 and interviewing will commence immediately. Starting dates are negotiable, with multiple positions available. Serious applicants please first email Anthony Di Fiore (email@example.com) to receive a field guide describing the project and the site in more detail. If still interested after reading the guide, please submit via email to BOTH Dr. Anthony Di Fiore (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Andres Link (email@example.com) the following:
1. CV including relevant coursework, previous field/outdoor experience, and where/how you can be contacted
2. Letter of interest (please include dates you are available)
3. References from three persons (preferably professors or research supervisors with whom you’ve worked closely) in which they provide information about your experiences, skills, and training
Anthony Di Fiore
25 Waverly Place
New York, NY 10003