Research Assistant Opportunity, FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Department of Biological Sciences, UCT


FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology invite applications for a full-time, 5-6 month research assistant opportunity. FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology is a world-renowned Centre of Excellence in ornithological research. The position is based at the Kuruman River Reserve (KRR), a large research station home to the Kalahari Meerkat Project and the Pied Babbler Research Project. The research assistant will support a Fitz Hot Birds Project PhD student.

Research focuses on the impacts of extreme heat on animals in arid environments and the extent to which cooperative behaviour might mitigate negative consequences of heat stress. We work with the free-ranging, habituated population of Southern Pied Babblers (SPB: Turdoides bicolor) at KRR. Fieldwork includes behavioural, morphological, and physiological aspects, ensuring exposure to a range of techniques in contemporary ornithology.

Location: Kuruman River Reserve, Van Zylsrus, Southern Kalahari, South Africa
Duration: Between 5 and 6 months, from mid-September 2017 to February 2018
Remuneration: R6,000 per month. Accommodation and local transport is provided but the research assistant is expected to cover their own food costs and initial transport to the field site from the salary provided.
Working conditions: 5.5 days per week. Fieldwork is from dawn to dusk. Temperatures can exceed 40°C. The location is remote, beautiful, and home to many biology researchers and volunteers from around the world.

Tasks and Responsibilities

- Perform behavioural observations of SPB across a range of daytime temperatures and group sizes. These observations will include focal animal observations, nest watches, and experiments;
- Conduct stable isotope treatments with SPB across a range of daytime temperatures and group sizes. This will include taking body mass measurements and collecting faecal samples;
- Assist the PhD student with accessing nests to measure and ring nestlings, take nest microsite measurements, and record/playback nestling begging calls;
- Collect life history and nest life history data on SPB groups and individuals and updating databases.

Prior experience with field-based animal behaviour observations will be an advantage. South African applicants will be prioritised. International applicants must have a valid and current work or study permit for the full duration of the planned fieldwork.

To apply, please send your CV and a short motivation letter to Amanda Bourne by 4 August 2017 (