Crew Leader Position: Plague and mammal conservation

Agency: U.S. Geological Survey

Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico

Start Date: 10 May 2020

Salary: $1,800 – $2,000 per month DOE


Job description:

Plague (a vector-borne disease of mammalian hosts) is causing significant and chronic conservation dilemmas in the western US. We are studying the ecology of plague in the White Mountains of New Mexico.  The Penasco least chipmunk is a species of conservation concern and is currently only known to exist in a few locations within the White Mountains.  Their range has declined with some populations going locally extinct.  We will work with species associated with the Penasco least chipmunk in areas close to or within historically occupied Penasco chipmunk sites.  Our questions  include: (1) is plague present in any of the small mammals associated with the Penasco least chipmunk, (2) if plague is present, what is its effect on  demographics of the small mammal community, (3) what is the host flea community (fleas are the main vector of plague) and (4) what tools are most effective for plague management in this study system.   Our ultimate goal is to conserve wildlife and preserve ecosystems.

We will capture and mark small mammals (mice, voles, woodrats, chipmunks, etc.).  In addition, we will anesthetize and collect fleas from individuals.  We will also use a vaccine to test for differences in survival among treatments.  The crew leader will be responsible for: 1) following field protocols, 2) both animal and technician safety, 3) checking data, 4) driving a work vehicle, and 5) maintaining field equipment.

Field work will occur between ~10-May and 10-October 2020.  Long days and odd hours will be required and work will be physically demanding.  You must be able to lift and carry traps over short distances (up to 300m).  Terrain is uneven and requires being able to maneuver with equipment over rocks, logs, and thorny vegetation.  Furthermore, temperatures do fluctuate between below freezing to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Hours and workdays will change depending on the temperature, weather, and capture rates so you must be willing to work a flexible schedule.  Technicians must be comfortable working at night.

We provide shared housing (trailers) and trucks to travel between the trailers and field work.  There will not be any running water and electricity is limited to powering the refrigerator and lights.  We will move regularly among the field sites.

Required Qualifications:

  *   Education: B.S. degree in Natural Resources, Ecology, Wildlife Biology, or related field

  *   At least 2 field seasons of prior outdoor field work (1 season must be working with small mammals)

  *   Experience living/camping in remote locations for extended periods

  *   Excellent skills in time and data organization/management

  *   Demonstrated oral and written communication skills

  *   Demonstrated ability to work both independently and as a team

  *   Commitment to the entire duration of the field season (10 May – 10 October 2020)

Desired Qualifications:

*        Previous experience driving a four-wheel drive vehicle

*        Previous experience in a supervisory role

How to Apply:

Applications will be reviewed as they are received and positions will remain open until they are filled.  Please submit application materials to: Dean Biggins (  Please include in a single document (PDF or Word) a brief cover letter, your CV/resume, list of 3 references (please include both email addresses and telephone numbers) and (if possible) unofficial/official college transcripts.  Please write “Crew Leader” in the subject line of the email.