mercredi 3 octobre 2012

Two volunteer research assistants: feeding ecology and ranging in black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) in Kianjavato, Madagascar

Hiring Organization:
University of Calgary

Date Posted:

Position Description:
A collaborative project between researchers at the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium Center for Conservation and Research and the University of Calgary seeks two qualified and highly motivated research assistants. The project involves following social groups of critically endangered black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata) in the Kianjavato-Vatovavy landscape in southeastern Madagascar.

The primary responsibilities of the volunteers include: 1) collect behavioral, feeding, and ranging data on two social groups 5 days/week, up to 9 hours/day; 2) download weather station data every two weeks; and 3) enter and transmit data to the principal investigators via internet every two weeks. Volunteers also have to the option to participate in phenological data collection every two weeks. Most of these tasks are carried out with the assistance of research technicians, and there is some flexibility in scheduling. Volunteers are also encouraged to participate in a variety of conservation and education activities (e.g., tree planting) organized by the field station.
Volunteers will be trained by the current field team. Volunteers also will work with an experienced and very helpful local team of assistants for all activities. Some English is spoken by the team, but French language skills will be useful; it should also be possible for volunteers to learn to communicate in Malagasy during their stay. The terrain is very steep and the weather is typically very warm and humid, particularly December-April. Adequate physical fitness to follow animals in these conditions is required. There are no dangerous animals, except the rare spider or scorpion. However, precautions should be made to avoid tropical diseases (e.g., malaria) – volunteers should ensure that they have the proper vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. There are nine total lemur species present, and a rich variety of other endemics (birds, chameleons, tenrecs, etc.).

Research is based at the newly-established Kianjavato Ahmanson Field Station (KAFS). Infrastructure upgrades are ongoing, however conditions are currently relatively rustic. Volunteers will sleep in their own tents under a fixed shelter, and meals are basic camp fare (be prepared to eat rice at each meal). Tent size is limited to two-person to allow sufficient space on shared tent platforms. There is generally good cellular phone reception at the station and in some parts of the forest. Volunteers will need to obtain their own phones and will have to pay for their own calls (international rates are reasonable). A generator is present to power laptops, recharge batteries, etc. on a restricted basis. Internet will only be available during twice monthly trips to larger towns; one trip to town per month for each volunteer will be funded by the project.

As indicated, adequate physical fitness is required. We prefer volunteers with at least a BA or BSc in the biological or environmental sciences (including biological anthropology). Some independent research experience will be an advantage, as will work or travel experience in tropical countries. A willingness to work in isolated conditions, the ability to solve problems independently, and dedication to a positive and respectful working environment are required.

No salary is offered

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
In-country permits, food, and necessary transportation at the site will be provided.

Term of Appointment:
A six-month commitment is required (November 2012-May 2012). Volunteers are welcome to stay longer; please indicate this in your letter of interest.

Application Deadline:
Immediately; the positions will be filled by the first qualified applicants.

Applicants should send a letter of interest, curriculum vitae, and contact information for two references to Steig Johnson ( Please also CC the following email addresses when sending application materials: Sheila Holmes (, Ed Louis (, OHDZA CCR Genetics Dept. (

Contact Information:
Department of Anthropology, 2500 University Dr NW, University of Calgary
Calgary, AB T2N 1N4

Telephone Number:
+1 (403) 220-6070

Fax Number:
+1 (403) 284-5467


E-mail Address: