lundi 13 mai 2013

Volunteer Research Assistant - the ecology of southern woolly lemurs

Hiring Organization:
University of Bristol

Date Posted:

Position Description:
We’re looking for a volunteer field assistant to help with ongoing research as part of an MRes, based in the littoral forests of southeast Madagascar. 

The majority of research will be conducted in the village of Sainte Luce. As well as an abundance of endemic flora and herpetofauna, the study site is home to five species of lemur: the collared brown lemur (Eulemur collaris), brown mouse lemur (Microcebus cf. rufus), fat-tailed dwarf lemur (Cheirogaleus medius), greater dawrf lemur (Cheirogaleus major), and the southern woolly lemur (Avahi meridionalis).

The aim of this study is to examine the ecology of sleeping sites used by A. meridionalis, and the relationship between habitat quality and Avahi population density. We will study the microhabitat around sleeping sites used by A. meridionalis in the littoral forests of Sainte Luce, southeast Madagascar, and gather data on the habitat requirements of this species.

This study will also assess the threat from human disturbance on A. meridionalis populations in Sainte Luce, through semi-structured interviews with members of the local community. 

A research volunteer will work alongside a small team of field biologists and local guides, and may be involved in the following tasks:

1. Conducting habitat surveys to assess the habitat quality of a number of forest fragments. Then,using a line transect method, estimating the population density of A. meridionalis in a number of forest fragments.
2. The capture and radio-collaring of several pairs of A. meridionalis. This will allow us to monitor sleeping-site usage and fidelity, and to identify the location of an individual's sleeping site with respect to its home range.
4. Having determined the location of sleeping sites used by A. meridionalis, we will conduct microhabitat surveys of the sleeping sites to compare with the microhabitat of non-used sites.
5. Several weeks will be spent in the more remote forests of Andohahela National Park. Here, data will be collected on the density and distribution of A. meridionalis and Lepilemur fleuretae. 

The precise activities will vary depending on our requirements at the time. 

Accommodation will vary between study sites, but will including camping and small local-style houses, as well as hotel stays when not in the field. Other facilities will be basic and there is usually there is no/limited access to electricity. Whilst in the bush meals will be prepared by a resident cook.

Applicants should:
1. Have a background in biology/zoology/ecology or related field and an interest in the behaviour, ecology and conservation of primates.
2. Be physically fit. You should be able to comfortably cover 10-15km per day, through dense and often steep forests, and capable of carrying a day pack these distances while collecting data.
3. Be open-minded and independent, prepared to adapt to living in a foreign culture, and able to work as part of a team.
4. Be reliable, responsible and motivated when it comes to following research protocols and methodologies, and an ability to work at unsociable hours when necessary.

Relevant experience of the project’s field techniques and of working in a developing country is desirable but not essential. Being able to speak French would be an advantage.

No salary is provided, and you will need to cover your own food costs at the research station (approx. £50/month). 

You will also be responsible for your own airfare to Madagascar and to Fort Dauphin, from where the team will travel by car to the study site in Sainte Luce. From the UK, return flights to Madagascar are approx. £800, and a return internal flight to Fort Dauphin from the capital Antananarivo will be approx. £250.

You will be responsible for your own medical/travel insurance.

Support provided for internship/volunteer positions (travel, meals, lodging):
Basic housing will be available at certain study sites, but applicants should anticipate long periods of camping and should be able to provide their own tent.

Whilst in the bush meals will be prepared by a resident cook. Applicants should budget approx. £50 per month for food.

Whilst in the bush, there will be limited access to electricity, although there will be access to solar power at some sites.

Term of Appointment:
Applicants will need to commit to spending 4 months on the project, from mid-November 2013 to mid-March 2014. Exact dates are TBC.

Application Deadline:
To apply, please submit a CV and covering letter to the project email address ( outlining your suitability for the role and relevant experience. There is no specific deadline and applications will be accepted until positions are filled.

Questions about the project should be directed to Kathryn Scobie at

Contact Information:
United Kingdom

E-mail Address: