Field Assistant Needed: Canopy Herpetofauna and Arthropod Surveys in Amazonian Ecuador ~

22 de enero de 2008

Field Assistant Needed: Canopy Herpetofauna and Arthropod Surveys in Amazonian Ecuador

Research Investigator:
Shawn F. McCracken, PhD. Student, Texas State University

Position Description:
Motivated, reliable, and durable field assistant to work on a field study of
the herpetofauna and arthropod communities of canopy phytotelmata
(tank-bromeliads) in primary rainforest at the Tiputini Biodiversity Station
(TBS), Yasuni Research Station (YRS), and along the Via Auca in the
Ecuadorian Amazon. Assistants will contribute to a project focusing on
amphibian and arthropod diversity and density in a large canopy
tank-bromeliad, Aechmea zebrina, occupying different forest types and
management regimes. Assistants will be responsible for independent scouting
surveys to identify potential survey trees, providing ground support during
sampling, collecting/recording data during sampling, transporting heavy gear
and sampled bromeliads long distances in difficult terrain, following
protocol to collect data for each bromeliad, dismantling bromeliads in a
screen tent and collecting all herpetofauna and arthropods, recording
specimen data, collecting blood or tissue samples, preserving specimens,
sorting arthropods, and data entry. Other responsibilities may include tree
and trail mapping, Visual Encounter Surveys (VES), and opportunistic sampling.
Assistants are not allowed to collect data for personal research projects or
publication. However, assistants are encouraged to contribute as coauthors
on papers for which they collected and analyzed data. Assistants performing
well in their position will be given strong letters of recommendation and
potential future positions working with the TADPOLE Organization.
Applicants should minimally have significant progress towards a BS/BA (or
higher degree) in Biology, Ecology, or a related field. Previous experience
with amphibians, reptiles, or arthropods is not necessary but a strong
interest in these animals and the mental tenacity to handle them is
required. Previous experience and comfort with living and 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 English is required and Spanish is helpful, but
not necessary, a willingness to learn will benefit greatly. Experience with
collecting systematic data in a scientific context is preferred, the
commitment to learn is a must. Tree climbing experience using Single-Rope
Technique (SRT) is highly preferred; those interested in learning this skill
if accepted should look online for training opportunities. In general,
applicants must be in good physical and mental condition; feel comfortable
being far away from family and friends; be emotionally mature, energetic,
respectful of others, and very patient; have an excellent eye for detail;
experience with bugs, snakes, frogs, heights, and being alone in the forest
(day or night); have very good social skills, especially in small groups;
and be able to maintain a positive and humorous attitude towards challenging
and tiring work.

Additional Beneficial Skills:
Use of Digital SLR Camera Use of GPS equipment Adobe Lightroom
Microsoft Access Microsoft Excel Adobe Photoshop
Microsoft Word ArcGIS software Raven audio analysis
Weather instrumentation Navigation Generally comfortable with technology
This work will be rigorous and demanding. Assistants will be expected to
work about 8-12 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.

A portion of costs will be paid by the project, applicants will pay
approximately US$ 13-15/day towards station fees (includes on-site lodging,
laundry, and three meals daily). Successful Ecuadorian applicants may apply
to have station fees paid in full. Assistants are also responsible for the
costs of obtaining a visa to work in Ecuador if staying longer than 90 days
(~US$ 300), health insurance and immunizations that permit that work. Proof
of suitable insurance and yellow fever immunization is a must; vaccinations
against typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, etc. are all also strongly recommended
(see the Center for Disease Control website for Ecuador, Applicants must also
pay their own round-trip airfare to Ecuador (cost varies) and for travel
within Ecuador to and from the research station (~US$120 by plane or US$20
by bus). Assistants are responsible for their own field clothes, gear, and
personal items.

Term of Appointment:
March 17, 2008 till the end of May.

Application Deadline:
Applications are being reviewed now. Final submissions due February 11, 2007.

Additional Information:
Serious applicants please first email Shawn McCracken (
to receive a project guide and a typical week's work schedule. If still
interested after reading the guide, please submit via email to BOTH Shawn
McCracken ( and Dr. Michael R.J. Forstner
( 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. Please direct all initial inquiries
regarding the application process or project to Shawn McCracken
For more information about the research stations, researcher, previous work
in the area, and the region in general please see the following websites:

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