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Animal Behavior Society
Animal Behavior Society

Working towards a better understanding of animal behavior

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Field Assistants
Posted Jun 3
ONE field assistant / field coordinator needed for the Capuchins at Taboga Project, a long-term project in Costa Rica on the behavior, communication, endocrinology, and conservation of wild white-faced capuchins (Cebus capucinus). All research is conducted at a field station located in the Taboga Forest Reserve in the Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica. Directors of the project are Dr. Thore Bergman (University of Michigan), Dr. Jacinta Beehner (University of Michigan), Dr. Elizabeth Tinsley-Johnson (Michigan State University), and Dr. Marcela Benitez (Emory University). The successful candidate will be responsible for the following: (1) habituating new study groups and identifying individuals; (2) collecting demographic, reproductive, and ranging data (using GPS) as part of routine monitoring of the study population; (3) collecting behavioral data in a systematic way; (4) collecting data on forest phenology once a month; (5) maintaining camp equipment and the camp itself; (6) managing and organizing the data plans for the day; and (7) coordinating payments for project assistants.
The project field station is part of a field campus of the Universidad Técnica Nacional of Costa Rica at Taboga. You can read more about the location here: For more information on the project directors, the project publications, and some photos of the fieldsite, please see the project website: We have and enforce a strict anti-harassment policy for all team members, which includes all forms of harassment (including but not limited to sexual harassment). We have three 4-bedroom houses that sleep ~20 people comfortably and have two full kitchens (fridge/freezer, stove, etc.) and 6 bathrooms and 6 (cold) showers. The houses are shared living space for international assistants and our four Costa Rican full-time assistants. There is running water (potable), electricity full-time, high-speed internet, and cell phone reception is decent in the house and in the forest. 
Qualified applicants will have a B.S. or B.A in Biology, Zoology, Biological Anthropology, or a related field. Applicants must be fluent in English and be proficient in Spanish which is necessary to communicate with others at the field station. Prior travel and/or field experience in tropical regions is preferred. Good physical fitness is absolutely essential - the terrain is hilly and the temperature is usually quite hot and humid. Good organizational skills and experience with basic database management a must. Experience with leadership also a plus – as you will be working closely with other students and field assistants. Priority will be given to those with more field experience and/or better Spanish ability. 
COVID Precautions: Unfortunately, we cannot offer a position to anyone who is not fully vaccinated. You must provide proof of vaccination to accept this position. When at the site, you will be required to wear a mask in public (to adhere to Costa Rican laws). When in the forest, assistants must wear a mask and stay at least 6 m away from the monkeys.
Salary/funding: Although this is considered a volunteer position, all expenses are covered plus a small monthly stipend ($200 USD). Expenses covered include round-trip airfare to and from the site and all living support (covid testing, visa expenses, visa-related travel, meals, lodging). Additionally, volunteers will be provided with other basic supplies while at the field site (binoculars, sunscreen, mosquito repellant, and snake guards). The volunteers are responsible for any additional expenses incurred while traveling in Costa Rica during vacations from work. The project will provide emergency travel health insurance, but the volunteers are required to have basic health care insurance and must acquire the necessary vaccinations (including a Covid vaccination) prior to entry to Costa Rica. The volunteers will need to provide their own field clothing and footwear. We will offer advice about what items are necessary for daily life in a tropical dry forest. If you have moderate monthly expenses (i.e., student loan minimum payments) that might prevent you from applying to this position, we encourage you to apply anyway (no need to tell us about these unless you are selected). We have sources of funding that may be able to offset these extra expenses on an individual basis. We would like to see applications from a wide variety of candidates, and we particularly encourage applications from individuals who are from groups that have traditionally been under-represented in STEM fields and from fieldwork.
Appointment: A 1-year commitment is preferred (although if you are planning for fall 2022 admission to graduate school, we certainly could let you go in late summer to prepare). We are looking for someone who can start their appointment anytime between Jun and Aug 2021. Longer-term appointments are also possible after the year is up. Applicants who decide to remain for longer than one year, will receive one round-trip flight to their home country for a break in between appointments. 
Deadline: Positions will remain open until filled. Priority will be given to (1) applicants who apply earlier; (2) applicants who can arrive in the field within the specified start dates; and (3) applicants with better Spanish abilities. We hope to fill the position before Jul 2021; and we hope to have the volunteers in the field no later than early Aug 2021.
Application: Please email the following materials to Dr. Jacinta C. Beehner at ( (1) a letter of interest stating how and why this position satisfies your interest and future career goals, explaining your suitability for this project, plus a time-frame during which you are available to arrive in Costa Rica, (2) a CV or resumé detailing relevant experience, (3) a summary of college courses taken and the grades received, to be followed by an official transcript, and (4) contact information for at least two references, preferably at least one academic reference as well as one person who has worked closely with you in a research or field setting. The subject heading of the email message should read: “Application for Costa Rican field position”.