This volunteer training program, like that of the primate handling, targets participants with an interest in wildlife handling, zoology, or veterinary science. The overarching goal of this program is to tie in with the disease ecology research program by actively targeting three large communities of animals in conjunction with disease screening of the primate population at Los Amigos. We will focus on terrestrial mammals (both nocturnal and diurnal) using Sherman traps in a project led by Dr. Jesús Lescano and veterinary candidate KC Hill. Additionally, we will also conduct repeated mist-net screening of both birds and bats, veterinarians Ana Peralta Aguilar and Giancarlo Inga Diaz, both Peruvian wildlife veterinarians with extensive experience in mark-recapture programs across taxa.
By screening terrestrial mammals, birds and bats in this program, in conjunction with tamarins through the mark-recapture program and the remaining primates via the disease ecology program, we hope to gain a snapshot of the parasite species richness in a large proportion of the connected wildlife community at the site.
Samples from this research program will be analysed at the Green Lab in Peru using genomic screens via MinION technology. Further training to those who are interested in field molecular genetics will be provided in research internships based at the Inkaterra Guides Field Station.
All capture events will be conducted in the presence of veterinarians and wildlife biologists with extensive experience in working with these taxa. Genetic analyses will be led by Gideon Erkenswick and Mrinalini Watsa at the Green Lab, with sample collection coordinated by Alexandra Sacco and Samantha Lopez Clinton.
In addition to the invaluable information gleaned on the health of this wild population, we will also temporarily mark animals to assess population numbers using the mark-recapture technique. Our protocol is comprehensive and puts the comforts and safety of the animals above our own. For example, to ensure the maximum security of the animals, we conduct all processing in the jungle, at the trap site. We begin very early, often setting up our processing tent before dawn and we work slowly and safely without putting any undue pressure on researchers to achieve certain capture numbers per season. We hope to apply the same wildlife handling ethics of our primate mark-recapture program to the community wide efforts this summer.
There is a serious lack of available training for those interested in working with wild animals today. Due to our rigorous training protocols, we are a singular resource of training and opportunity in which trainees will gain a number of invaluable and unusual skills in this program that are not easy to come by. Our applicants typically are zoology majors, anthropologists and veterinarians/pre-vet students, but all you really need is a willingness to work hard and a demonstrated interest in the project.
At the end of this program, research assistants will be able to:
- Construct an animal field processing kit
- Collect biological samples from the primates
- Determine sex and appropriate age of individuals by morphological characters for multiple mammal and avian species
- Learn appropriate handling techniques for terrestrial mammals, birds and bats
- Record TPRs at regular intervals (temperature, pulse and respiration)
- Manipulate a weighing scale to accurately record the body mass of subjects
- Store and process biological samples for analyses of endocrinology, parasitology and reproductive physiology
- Manage and work in a field laboratory like no other.
We are currently recruiting participants with the following requirements. If you are uncertain if you are eligible, contact us to confirm.
- Participants must be at least 18 years of age by the time the training program begins
- Participants must demonstrate a grounding or strong interest in animal handling and biology
- Participants must be certain that they are not squeamish at the sight of medical equipment
- Previous field experience is not required, but previous handling experience (or some contact with animals other than your pets) is a plus
- Participants must justify why this program is important to them, and what they hope to gain from it
- Participants must provide a letter of recommendation from a source that can substantiate the participant’s experience and skills
- Participants must be in good physical condition, with the capability to walk 4 miles a day
- Participants will not be discriminated against for medical conditions they might have, if we determine that being on this project will not pose an immediate risk to their health
- Participants must sign waivers of liability for this project and for the field station before their participation in the project is finalized
- Participants must be willing to maintain long hours in the field, and return to complete data entry in the evenings.
- Sometimes we wait and are unsuccessful – this is the nature of the work. Participants must demonstrate patience
- Participants must be reliable – when a team is assigned to work with a group of animals, days of planning go into the execution of the protocol. Carelessness and tardiness on the part of the participant could jeopardize the entire project.
- Due to the nature of the work and weather constraints, participants MUST be willing to be flexible about their schedules
- Participants must exhibit a willingness to adjust your schedule to primate daily activity patterns. This can require waking up early, sometimes by 4 or 5 am, and going to bed early, 8 or 9 pm.
Program dates: May 27 – July 14, 2018
Start dates: June 3 or June 10
Minimum stay required: 4 weeks
Application deadline: April 15th, 2018
Program fee: $1800 for 4 weeks; $450 each additional week
This project will be led by Dr. Jesus Lescano, KC Hill, Dr. Ana Peralta Aguilar, Dr. Giancarlo Inga Diaz, Dr. Mrinalini Watsa, Dr. Gideon Erkenswick, Samantha Lopez Clinton and Alexandra Sacco. They have extensive experience handling wildlife across Peru, and will split up and lead different teams targeting the various taxa on site.