HURRICANE MARIA DAMAGE ASSESSMENT - EL YUNQUE NATIONAL FOREST
January 15th through July 15th, 2018
Complete applications must be submitted by November 15th, 2017
RESEARCH DESCRIPTION: The Environmental Science Department of the University of Puerto Rico is collecting applications for volunteers interested in conducting field work in the El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. The Luquillo Mountains, home to the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Program (LUQ-LTER), range to 1075 m in elevation and present a gradient of climate and vegetation change that extends through five life zones (subtropical moist forest to lower montane rainforest). LUQ scientists have been studying the impacts of hurricanes on the forest for over 25 years and are seeking volunteers to help with a variety of field tasks to assess the impact of Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in mid-September, 2017.
We are seeking ten (10) volunteers who will work in several of the LUQ-LTER long-term study sites, including the 16 hectare Luquillo Forest Dynamics Plot (LFDP), four 1-ha Chronosequence plots, the Long-term Elevation Plots (LTEP), and other forest plots on the island. Volunteers will assist with collecting data to assess damage to individual trees, counts of fallen trees, fallen woody debris, and canopy openness. Field tasks include, but are not limited to, measuring several qualitative and quantitative observations on tree damage resulting from the hurricane, such as tip-up, and type of damage to stems, tree crowns and branches, taking hemispherical canopy photos, and measuring inputs of coarse woody debris. Volunteers will enter all collected data and perform quality-control checks using database software. Volunteers may be asked to assist with other projects as needed. While in Puerto Rico, volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about diverse aspects of tropical ecology from scientists involved in the LUQ-LTER.
Because of the damage from Hurricane Maria, volunteers will encounter strenuous field conditions. Daily hiking both on and off trails will involve navigating around/over fallen limbs and trees and across steep, rocky, wet terrain. Due to the loss of canopy cover, it is typically extremely hot and humid. Exposure to biting insects and stinging plants is common. The LTEP trail is particularly challenging, as it spans elevations from 300 m to 1000 m. Volunteers will usually work in small teams in the field but may occasionally perform tasks individually. Work hours are typically from 7:00 am-3 pm Monday-Friday with weekends free.
PERIOD: Jan 15th-July 15th, 2018
ACCOMMODATION: Free accommodation at the El Verde Field Station in Puerto Rico. Housing is communal (dorms) using shared resources. The station has generator power, running water, and some internet access but they are not always guaranteed. El Verde is relatively isolated; we will provide transportation to and from the airport and grocery store, but any personal travel will need to be done with a rented vehicle. Housing outside the field station for travel to other plots will also be provided, generally in a rented house.
TRAVEL: Refund of up to $600 towards a round-trip plane ticket from mainland USA, if not already living in Puerto Rico.
REQUIREMENTS: College graduates with a background in biology, ecology, or environmental science. Applicants must be able to hike long distances in difficult conditions while carrying up to 20 lbs several days in a row. Positive attitude and willingness to work long hours in sometimes unpleasant conditions is a must. First aid training useful, but not required. We are currently only considering US citizens and permanent US residents for these opportunities.
APPLICATION PROCEDURE: If you are interested in this opportunity, please fill out the online application at https://goo.gl/forms/5PuKZCzqPAVRsLGt1 (You may have to cut and paste into browser.) The following additional materials must also be submitted via email to the LUQ-LTER Coordinator, Sarah Stankavich, before the application deadline at firstname.lastname@example.org:
1) A letter of interest indicating why you would like to work with the LUQ-LTER and describing your relevant experience.
2) Full resume;
3) University transcripts (scanned unofficial transcripts are fine).
Please condense materials into as few attachments as possible. All email attachments must include the name of the applicant as part of the file name. Indicate in the subject line which opportunity you are applying for, as we may be hiring for multiple positions.