3 Volunteers needed to study small mammals in South Africa ~ Bioblogia.net

26 de marzo de 2012

3 Volunteers needed to study small mammals in South Africa

3 volunteers needed from July / August to November / December 2012
as field assistants for the project:
Evolution and Socio-Ecology of small Mammals in the Succulent Karoo of South Africa

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. One focus this year is on personality traits of striped mice. As this species is diurnal and the habitat is open, direct behavioral observations in the field are possible.
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 will participate in a project on personality traits of striped mice, doing behavioral tests at the research station and 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 1250 (around 180 US$, 120 Euro) must be paid for accommodation at the research station. Students must buy their own food etc in Springbok (costs of about R 2500, approx. 360 US$ or 250 Euro/month). Including extras (going out for dinner; shopping), you should expect costs of about 600 US$, 450 Euros per month. Students get an invitation letter which they can use to apply for funding in their home country (eg. DAAD in Germany, SSJARP in Switzerland).
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 2-3 volunteers starting in July / August 2012. Volunteers are expected to stay at least three 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 carsten.schradin@ieu.uzh.ch.

More information under

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

Honorary Researcher at the School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences,
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!

PD Dr. Carsten Schradin
Group Leader Behavioral Endocrinology and Eco-Physiology
Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Department of Animal Behavior
University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland.
Tel: +41 - (0)44 635 5486
Tel. secretary: +41 - (0)44 635 5271
Fax: +41 - (0)44 635 5490

Honorary Associate Professor
School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Succulent Karoo Research Station, Goegap Nature Reserve, Private Bag X1, 8240 Springbok, South Africa


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