mardi 13 avril 2010

Volunteer research assistant: Ecology and social behavior of howling monkeys in Palenque, Mexico.

Hiring Organization:
Primate Lab, Field Research Station Los Tuxtlas, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM)

Date Posted:

Position Description:
We are looking for volunteers to assist in projects studying the social system and ecology of black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra) at Palenque National Park, Mexico. Volunteers will assist in three simultaneously running projects:
(1) Social and genetic factors mediating individual participation in naturally occurring howling bouts and group defense in black howler monkeys (by Dr. S. Van Belle)
(2) Seed dispersal by black howler monkeys and dung beetles and tropical rainforest regeneration in Palenque (by Dr. A. Estrada and David Munoz, PhD student)
(3) Social and hormonal factors underlying male-male interactions in black howler groups in either continuous or fragmented forests (by Dr. A. Estrada and Chiara Castiglioni, Master’s student)

You will assist in all three projects on a rotating basis and training will be provided. Specific tasks you will participate in:
1.Collecting of behavioral observations and scan samples on howling monkey groups in Palenque National Park and in groups in forest fragments in a landscape adjacent to the national park.
2.Daily collection of fecal samples from howler monkey to rescue seeds being dispersed, for hormonal analyses, or DNA extraction.
3.GPS recording of ranging patterns of the howler monkey groups under observations.
4.Collection of dung beetles attracted to howler monkey dung using baited pitfall traps.
5.Germination experiments for seeds dispersed by the howler monkeys and for control seeds (collected from fresh fruits)
6.Seed predation experiments on seeds dispersed by howler monkeys using camera-traps
7.Vegetation data collection: census of vegetation at the study sites – to be done only once
8.Data entering in computer databases
9.Resting periods: resting days will be scheduled regularly as part of the field work program.

The qualifications we are looking for in a research assistant are:
-Be physically fit, and capable of undertaking fieldwork in hot/humid conditions.
-Be capable of team work and not have issues with authority figures.
-Have a background in biology/anthropology/zoology/psychology or a related field.
-Be interested in primate behavior, ecology, conservation.
-Be hardworking, disciplined in following field procedures and be reliable.
-Some knowledge of animal behavior and data collection preferred but not required.
-Enjoy being outdoors and experiencing the tropical rainforest.
-Enjoy being in the culture of southeast Mexico

No salary will be provided.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Assistants will be responsible for airfare/transportation to and from Palenque town and for food costs. Lodging will be provided by the field project in a comfortable fully equipped house (electricity, hot water, high speed internet, bunk beds, two bathrooms with showers, a large living room kitchen area) about 2 km from Palenque National Park. The town of Palenque is only 2 km away where banking, telephone services, hospitals, supermarkets, drugstores and others are available.

Term of Appointment:
4 - 12 months or more starting August 2010

Application Deadline:

To apply, please email a recent copy of your CV and describe your research interests and experience, and your availability for this position.

Note on contingencies: Volunteers should be covered by medical insurance when traveling to Mexico. They will need to sign a releasing liability form upon joining the research team in Palenque.

Contact Information:
Dr. Alejandro Estrada
Field Research Station Los Tuxtlas-UNAM, Mexico


Dr. Sarie Van Belle
Dept. of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, USA

Contact Information:
Sarie Van Belle


E-mail Address: