Plague and small mammal conservation research technician – NM

Agency: U.S. Geological Survey

Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico

Start Date: 10 May 2020

Salary: ~560/month living stipend plus housing

Application deadline: 20 March 2020


*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 seek volunteer field assistants to help us 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.  All participants

will gain experience using multiple types of traps, handle and mark

multiple species of small mammal, anesthetize individuals, comb fleas, and

vaccinate individuals.

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.  Some locations are more remote than

others (distance to town varies from a 15-min to 45-min drive).  Each field

assistant will receive a daily stipend (work days only) of $28/day or about



*Required Qualifications: *

   – Must be able to work under harsh conditions (hot/cold weather, rough

   terrain, etc.)

   – Have a positive attitude and a commitment to wildlife conservation

   – Be physically fit enough to walk over uneven terrain throughout the

   work day

   – Ability to pay attention to detail and record data carefully

   – Ability to follow field protocols

   – Be able to work both independently and with a group

*Desired Qualifications:*

   – Prior field experience is desired but not required

   – Experience living or working remotely

   – Experience handling wildlife

   – Experience hiking and being outdoors

   – Commitment to the entire field season

   – Previous experience driving a four-wheel drive vehicle

   – Experience entering data into Excel

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, and (if possible and applicable) unofficial/official college

transcripts.  Please include the following information in your cover

letter: dates of availability (priority will be given to those that can

commit to the entire duration of the field season), a brief description of

why you are interested in this position, and any further information that

may speak to your qualifications as outlined in the announcement.  Please

write âÂEURÂoeVolunteer Field TechnicianâÂEUR in the subject line of the email.