Herpetology Research Coordinador, Amazonian Peru

Position: Herpetology Research Coordinator
Institution: Fauna Forever (FF)
Type of Institution: Non-profit Organisation (Conservation & Sustainable Development)
Location: Base – Puerto Maldonado, Peru; Field – Various locations around the Madre de Dios region, with an emphasis on the Tambopata Province
Position reports to: Dr. Chris Kirkby (Director & Principal Investigator of Fauna Forever)
Salary/Stipend: 4,500 Soles every three months (equivalent to US$1,320 – local salary level)
Other benefits: Accommodation, food and location transport costs are covered by the organisation when the coordinator is in the field or working in Puerto Maldonado
Training/Trial period: 30 days, starting on or around 15 Jan 2016 (non-salaried period)
Duration: Having passed the training/trial period, the successful candidate will be offered a 12-month contract
Key Responsibilities:
1. To ensure members of the herpetology team maintain high standards of health and safety, particularly with regards to travel within Puerto Maldonado, travel to and from field sites (by road vehicles and boats), stays at field sites (including moving between sample areas), and when using research equipment and other items such as electricity generators. The task will involve (i) reinforcing health and safety advice given by the Director, Reservations Manager, and other coordinators in formal and field settings; (ii) following the incident management and reporting procedure, should an incident or accident take place; and (iii) recommending improvements and assisting in the update of the organisation’s health and safety guidelines when required (such recommendations should be made in writing to the Director).
2. To receive, maintain and return field equipment and reading materials (e.g. herpetology books and field guides, measuring and weighing equipment, articles, etc.) used by the herp team to carry out its research and training duties. This task will involve (i) listing the items of equipment given to you for the purpose of undertaking the research and monitoring activities; (ii) maintaining the integrity of this equipment (i.e. undertaking regular repairs); (iii) returning equipment to the central store after you no longer require it; and (iv) requesting the replacement of equipment, and ideally at least two months before a replacement is required (to allow time for the items to arrive in Puerto Maldonado).
3. To train volunteers and interns assigned to the herpetology team in the sampling protocols used to study the population and community dynamics of rainforest amphibian and reptile species (e.g. transect surveys, quadrat counts, pit-fall trap counts, intensive habitat surveys) and habitat variables (e.g. forest structure, leaf-litter depth, humidity, etc.). This task will involve the design of illustrated talks and practical sessions that will be given to incoming volunteers and interns. Training is a continual process, and constructive criticism and lots of encouragement will be given to volunteers and interns throughout their time on the team. Regular formal team meetings will be essential in this regard (ideally weekly).
4. To lead the collection of herp data using the protocols outlined below, and to subsequently collate and analyse it. This task will involve (i) using standardised data collection sheets; (ii) frequent transfer of raw data to the herp database stored on the institution’s laptops; (iii) using programs such as EstimateS to calculate herp species diversity indices and rarefaction measures of diversity; (iv) using the Distance Program to calculate the density of species recorded using transect methods; and (v) using statistical programs (e.g. SPSS, PAST, Minitab, etc.) to analyse sample effort, changes over time and space with respect to species diversity, density, and community structure, as well as multivariate analyses (e.g. general linear models and correspondence analysis) of biotic, abiotic and anthropogenic variables that may help explain the herp population patterns that are observed.
5. To prepare an internal report at the end of each month, which will include (i) a summary of the sample effort attained per method (e.g. transect distance travelled, person-hours, trap days, etc.); (ii) a copy of the data that has been entered into the database; (iii) summary tables and figures depicting analytical results; (iv) supervisory evaluations of each volunteer and intern assistant in the team; (v) general comments on research sites, problems encountered, solutions implemented; and so forth. This monthly report must be given to the Director.
6. To assist the Director in collating information for use in funding proposals, technical reports, scientific papers, and institutional planning documents relating to the herp team, as required.
7. Occasionally, to communicate briefly with incoming herp team volunteers and interns prior to their arrival in Puerto Maldonado as part of the organisation’s process of developing strong, professional working relationships with in-coming participants. An ability to write well and politely in English (Spanish desirable) will therefore be essential.
8. To share the task of keeping the Fauna Forever house in Puerto Maldonado in a clean and tidy state, particularly with respect to the personal spaces assigned to each coordinator during their stays in town.
9. To assist the Director with project logistics when required, especially during those days assigned for moving from one site to another. This may require the management of cash for purchases. When purchasing products and services, care must be taken to obtain legal receipts (boletas and facturas).
10. To liaise with the managers and administrators of research stations, lodges, homestays, and local communities where the FF teams undertakes its research, regarding accommodation, food, and health-and-safety arrangements, particularly when the Director is away from the field site.
11. To contribute content (stories from the field and associated digital imagery) for use on the organisation’s website, blog and facebook page.
Qualifications, Experience, Knowledge and Personal Attributes:
1. Educated to Bachelors degree level (preferably Masters) in an environmental discipline (biology, ecology, environmental science, etc.). Specialist courses dealing in herp research techniques, Neotropical ecology, First Aid, database management, etc. are highly desirable.
2. Excellent knowledge of Neotropical herp species and their identification is essential. Previous experience of leading field research on herps, managing teams of field assistants, and writing reports and articles about field research is highly desirable. Experience of working in tropical rainforest environments is an asset.
3. Knowledge of data analysis techniques and associated software (e.g. SPSS, Minitab, PAST, etc.), Global Positioning System (GPS) hardware, Microsoft Office software, health and safety/risk management systems, and tropical diseases (and their avoidance) will be important.
4. Excellent knowledge of English and at least a working knowledge of Spanish are desirable.
5. A mature, mentally-resilient, physically-fit and results-driven person with a rigorous scientific outlook on field research who is keen to share his/her skills and to motivate others, who is able to function well as part of an international team, and who understands and shows commitment to long-term research and biodiversity conservation initiatives will feel at home.
To apply, please send at your earliest convenience a cover letter detailing why you are suitable for the position, and a copy of your CV, to the following person:
Dr. Chris Kirkby (chris@faunaforever.org)
All applications will be acknowledged, and the best candidates will be interviewed via Skype