Field Assistant with Santa Rosa Capuchin Project in Costa Rica

Hiring Organization:
Tulane University / Santa Rosa Capuchin Project

Position Description:
We are seeking 2 to 3 field assistants for a project on the behavioral endocrinology and ecology of white-faced capuchins at Sector Santa Rosa, Área de Conservacíon Guanacaste in Costa Rica. The project will be conducted by Tulane University doctoral student Gillian King-Bailey and her advisor, Dr. Katharine Jack, with an approximate duration of 12 months. We are looking for applicants who can make at least a 6-month commitment, though 9-12 months is preferred.

The capuchins of Santa Rosa have been studied continuously for over 30 years and there are currently four habituated study groups. Field assistants will assist in locating monkey groups based on known ranging territory, follow monkey groups and collect behavioral, biological, and ranging data. Field assistants will be responsible for learning and recognizing all individual animals, learning the relevant ethograms for behavioral data collection, and proper sample collection and processing techniques. Field assistants will be trained by the PI, a process that takes ~6 weeks, but learning the material takes self-motivation and perseverance. Field assistants must be able to work long hours in the field (approximately 8-10 hours), often getting up before dawn or coming back to the field station after dusk. The days most often involve intense hiking in a hot and humid climate. You will have approximately 1 to 2 days out of the forest per week. You will likely also have a 2 days off near the end of the month as long as data collection goals have been met.

The field site is remote and you will be living in the project’s field house. Applicants must be clean and tidy, responsible, respectful, and have experience living with housemates. There are snakes and other wildlife (which makes it fun and interesting!) that you must be able to cope with, and hopefully enjoy. We wear snake guards in the forest to prevent snake bites, though in the more than 30 year history of the project no one has been bitten. Wasps, large spiders, scorpions, chiggers, and ticks are all common and non-lethal, but somewhat painful, stings and bites will happen. This position is not recommended for anyone with a severe bee/wasp allergy.

Fedigan LM, Jack KM. 2012. Tracking Neotropical monkeys in Santa Rosa: Lessons from a Regenerating Costa Rican Dry Forest. In: Kappeler PM, Watts DP, editors. Long-term field studies of primates. p 21–45.

1) Physical fitness is a must. The terrain is rough, it’s hot, and during the rainy season it’s buggy and humid.
2) No extensive fieldwork experience is needed, though those that have completed a field school, or have comparable field experience, will be given priority.
3) An interest in scientific research and primate behavior.
4) A background in biology or anthropology is preferred.
5) Conversational level Spanish language skills.
6) The ability to live away from close friends and family for an extended period of time.

Support provided:
$300 per month to offset living expenses while assisting on this project.
Lodging in a shared (with one other person) room in a modest house will be provided. Round-trip airfare (up to $700) will be reimbursed upon completion of the applicant’s term of service (no less than 6 months). A taxi from the airport to the field site will be covered. Shared once monthly transportation to and from the city center of Liberia (~$100) to be coordinated with other house members will be covered – this is normally used for grocery shopping trips.
Applicants will be responsible for their own food (usually purchased communally and cooked as a house). Depending on dietary preference, this costs between $130 and $180/month.
Applicants will be in Costa Rica on tourist visas, which are good for 90 days. Applicants will be responsible for making a “visa run” to nearby Nicaragua, or the destination of their choice, for 3 days. Necessary costs incurred will include visa renewal (~$29), 3 nights in a hostel (~$10/night), and food (~$3-10/meal). Nicaragua is the cheapest option for this and it’s a good chance to be a tourist and relax in a beach town for a few days.
Applicants will be required to purchase travel health insurance (usually $30-50/month).
Applicants are responsible for all of their field gear, including a sturdy field, water bottles, sturdy field clothing, hiking boots, etc. A tablet, GPS unit, and binoculars will be provided for data collection.

Term of Appointment:
Fieldwork will begin on January 3rd, 2017. Applicants must be able to make AT LEAST a 6-month commitment, and individuals that can make a 9-12 month commitment will be given priority. The start date is somewhat flexible and those interested in starting later than January 3rd should specify the date that they will be available.

Gillian King-Bailey:

To apply, please submit a CV and cover letter describing relevant experience, reason for interest, qualities that make you a superior applicant, availability, and anything else you deem relevant. Please provide the names and contact information for 2 to 3 references, as well. Preferably references would include an academic reference, a work-related reference, and a personal reference. This posting will be removed when the positions are filled.