Volunteer Research Assistant in Tropical Seed Dispersal

SUMMARY: 1 volunteer research assistant is needed for approximately 3 months beginning August 1st 2017 to assist a PhD student investigating  avian seed dispersal in the Dominican Republic.

ORGANIZATION: Avian Ecology Lab, Old Dominion University (Virginia, United States)

RESEARCH LOCATION: Jarabacoa, La Vega, Dominican Republic

POSITION DESCRIPTION: Volunteer field assistants will be trained to collect data for numerous field research activities, including avian surveys and flower/fruit phenology along transects/plots, focal foraging  observations on study trees, collecting samples from seed traps in abandoned pastures, collecting fruits and herbarium samples from native  forest plants, and data entry. Other activities will involve manual labor on such projects as volunteer work on an organic farm, plot fence  repair, and maintain rustic trails along transects.

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LOGISTICS & COMPENSATION: Accommodations will be provided at a local  ecolodge in the town of Jarabacoa. Meals, consisting of typical Dominican food, will be provided to the volunteer at no cost during their stay. Reimbursement (within reason) will be provided for food expenses for field trips to distant sites. Assistants will be expected  to contribute 18-22 days of work to the project per month, in addition  to one day per week devoted to assisting with environmental activities  and organic farming at the ecolodge. All costs for in-country transportation and lodging will be provided by the project (with the exception of recreational trips on off days). Transportation to field sites (rural farms) will be either by vehicle or as a passenger on a motor-bike. Volunteers are expected to cover their own travel costs the  Dominican Republic. The target start date for this position is August 1st, 2017 and the assistant must commit to a minimum of 12 weeks on the  project.

FIELD STATION & AMMENITIES: Assistants should expect to share a dormitory-style room with a male roommate. Potable water, refrigerator,  (cold) showers, and wireless internet are available at the ecolodge.

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPECTATIONS: Competitive candidates for this positi=

on will have demonstrated experience with botanical or wildlife research in  the field. The applicant must be in good physical condition with a willingness to tolerate difficult working conditions. We routinely hike  10 km each day, often carrying 20-30 lbs of equipment. Strong organizational skills are expected for this position to adequately manage data collection and entry as well as the ability to work independently at times. An intermediate level of conversational Spanish  is a prerequisite, and applicants will be tested on their ability to communicate in Spanish during the interview. These communication skills  are essential, since the volunteer will spend most of the time working  under a Dominican field crew leader as well as communicating with private land owners and our conservation partners. Additionally, applicants will be tested on recognition of bird calls provided in advance of the interview.

OTHER COMMENTS: This position is ideal for undergraduates or recent graduates looking for experience in field ecology, wildlife/plant sciences, and conservation biology for their careers. Undergraduates considering applying should communicate with their academic advisor to  inquire about the possibility of using the experience to count for course credits.


Please send=85

(1) A one-page cover letter detailing your interest in the position and  summarizing your relevant background and professional goals. I especially want to know how you see this experience benefitting you moving forward with your career.

(2) A resume or CV detailing your experiences relevant to the qualifications discussed above.

(3) Information for 2 references who, preferably, know your work habits  in a field or laboratory/office setting. Provide name, title, and email  for each of these persons.


Materials must be received by July 7th 2017 to guarantee consideration,  though interviews may begin sooner, so there is an advantage to applying  early. Decisions will be made as qualified candidates are found, following phone/Skype interviews and consulting references.

Send all materials in a single PDF document to:

Spencer Schubert

Department of Biological Sciences

Old Dominion University

Email: sschu001@odu.edu