Evolution and Socio-Ecology of small Mammals in the Succulent Karoo of South Africa ~ Bioblogia.net

3 de noviembre de 2010

Evolution and Socio-Ecology of small Mammals in the Succulent Karoo of South Africa

Open positions from March 2011 onwards

Opportunity: This is a great opportunity for anybody who wants to get more
experience in field work relating to evolution, ecology and behavior before
starting an MsC or PhD project.

Project: We study the evolutionary and ecological reasons as well as
physiological mechanisms of group living, paternal care, communal nesting
and social flexibility in the striped mouse. As this species is diurnal and
the habitat is open, direct behavioral observations in the field are

What kind of people are needed? Biology/zoology/veterinary students are
preferred as candidates. Applicants must have an interest in working in the
field and with animals. Hard working conditions will await applicants, as
the study species gets up with sunrise (between 5 and 6 o` clock), and stops
its activity with dusk (19 o` clock). Work during nights might also be
necessary. Work in the field will be done for 5 days a week. Applicants must
be able to manage extreme temperatures (below 0 at night in winter,
sometimes over 40°C during summer days). Applicants must both be prepared to
live for long periods in the loneliness of the field and to be part of a
small social group.

Work of field assistants: Trapping, marking and radio-tracking of striped
mice; direct behavioral observations in the field. Volunteers are also
expected to help with maintenance of the research station (water pump, solar
power, etc.)

Confirmation letter: Students get a letter of confirmation about their work
and can prepare a report of their own small project to get credit points
from their university for their bachelor or masters studies.

Costs: Students have to arrange their transport to the field site
themselves. Per month, an amount of Rand 1000 (around 110 Euro) must be paid
for accommodation at the research station. For students with their own
undergraduate project, a fee of Rand 1250 (approx. 135 Euro) per month
applies. Students must buy their own food etc in Springbok (costs of about R
2250 or 250 Euro/month). Including extras, you should expect costs of about
400 Euros per month. Students get an invitation letter which they can use to
apply for funding in their home country (eg. DAAD in Germany, SANW in

Place: The field site is in the Goegap Nature Reserve near Springbok in the
North-West of South Africa. The vegetation consists of Succulent Karoo,
which has been recognized as one of 25 hotspots of biodiversity. It is a
desert to semi-desert with rain mainly in winter (June to September).

When and how long: At the moment we are looking for volunteers for the
period March / April to June and from July / August to November / December.
Volunteers are expected to stay at least 2 months, but longer periods of up
to 6months are preferred.

How to apply? Send a short motivation letter stating why and for which
period you are interested and your CV via email to

More information under www.stripedmouse.com

Contact via e-mail: carsten.schradin@ieu.uzh.ch

Dr. Carsten Schradin
Research Assistant, Department of Animal Behavior,
University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 - (0)44 635 5486 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting +41 - (0)44 635 5486 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Honorary Researcher at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental
University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

Working as a field assistant in Goegap Nature Reserve

A report by Romy Höppli, student at the University of Zurich, who staid in
Goegap June to August 2008

Blue skies without a single cloud for six weeks rocky mountains with
little vegetation yellow, orange and pink fields of flowers in whatever
direction you look small mammals, lizards and birds in our front yard and
Mountain Zebras, Springbok and Ostrich right next door...

This was my time at the Succulent Karoo Research Station in Goegap Nature
Reserve in South Africa! During six weeks from the beginning of July until
the middle of August I've been living here, studying mice, experiencing
nature like never before and being part of a small community where there was
always something to laugh and joke about!

After arriving in Goegap, right the next morning my scientific adventure in
South Africa began: Setting and checking traps, nest observations and
radio-tracking were our daily routine. While I got bitten by the mice quite
often in the beginning and my right middle finger was scarred all over, I
improved quickly shaking the mice out of the traps, weighing them and
checking the number of the ear tag. Other duties like cleaning the cages of
the mice in the captive colony, washing the dirt from probably several
months out of the traps, painting the new Wendy House and putting in a floor
and curtains quickly added to our daily field work activities.

It was never boring in Goegap! There was always something to do: studying
the striped mouse, listening to the interesting and funny stories every
member could tell or just enjoying the time while reading a book or writing
e-mails to friends to tell them about this unique experience. Here, the
weekly trip back to 'civilization' in Springbok for shopping, sending
e-mails and having lunch at "Nando's" - the best (Portuguese) fast food I
ever tasted - was always a highlight and the occasional trip to "Beaver's",
the towns funniest pub, where all the locals went to, was a good opportunity
to dance, make party and enjoy the relaxed South African way of life!

My six weeks down here were full of great experiences and I enjoyed every
single day! Hopefully, I will be able to come back to Goegap Nature Reserve
one day!

Carsten Schradin

Find your job here