Volunteer Field Assistant: Tropical Avian Seed Dispersal

SUMMARY: 1 volunteer research assistant is needed for approximately 3 months beginning April 11th 2018 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: The volunteer field assistant will be trained in numerous sampling techniques for data collection in the field, including avian surveys (point counts & line transects), quantifying reproductive characteristics of native forest plants, focal foraging observations on marked populations of plants, collecting samples from seed traps in abandoned pastures, collecting/identifying fruits and botanical samples, and data entry. Other activities will involve manual labor on such projects as plot fence repair and maintain rustic trails along transects. The field crew will work 5-6 days per week with the sixth day typically devoted to service and conservation projects overseen by local partners. This work may involve work at newly-established breeding bird sanctuary on private lands near Armando Bermúdez National Park with projects involving nest box construction and installation for cavity-nesting species (i.e. parrots, trogons, swallows).

For more information about the project, visit:

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 will be provided for food expenses for daily field trips to distant sites. 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 April 11th, 2018 (flexible) and the assistant must commit to a minimum of 12 weeks on the project.

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

QUALIFICATIONS & EXPECTATIONS: Competitive candidates for this position 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 regularly 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 in a team setting with a Dominican technician 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…
(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 benefiting you
moving forward with your career.
(2) A resume or CV detailing your experiences relevant to the qualifications discussed above (2 page max).
(3) Information for 2-3 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 March 5th 2018 to guarantee consideration, though interviews may begin sooner, so there is an advantage to applying early. Decisions will be made when a qualified candidates is 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