Lance-tailed Manakin Behavioral Ecology: Republic of Panama

Florida State University
Isla Boca Brava, Chiriqui Province, Panama
Job Category
Volunteer Openings
$500 honorarium upon completion of the field season; flight expenses and in-country travel, food, and housing provided
Start Date
Last Date to Apply
VOLUNTEER FIELD ASSISTANT (2): behavioral ecology of lance-tailed manakins in Panama. Two positions are available 25 Feb to 1 Jun 2022, to join an established team of researchers in an ongoing behavioral study of female mate choice and male display behavior in lance-tailed manakins (Chiroxiphia lanceolata) in Panama. Females of this small, lekking bird “shop” among males that display in cooperative pairs on dispersed display areas. Successful applicants will be involved in work investigating how male experience affects display performance and cooperative behavior, why dominant males tolerate subordinate cooperators, and how indirect genetic benefits affect female mate choice and maternal investment. Responsibilities include resighting color-banded birds, conducting many hour-long behavioral observations at display sites, some video-monitoring of behavior, nest-searching through dense secondary-growth dry tropical forest, and mistnetting birds for banding and blood sampling, as well as data entry and organizational tasks. Experience in one or more of these areas is strongly preferred, and we are prioritizing netting/banding experience to complement the strengths of the existing crew. Applicants should have a very strong interest in animal behavior, birds, and field biology. The full field crew includes 4 adults who will live and work on a remote island off of Panama's Pacific coast and share housing with close quarters. The site may have limited internet access and cell phone reception and unpredictable power outages, as well as unpredictable twists from the challenges of travel and grocery shopping during the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. In addition to the usual need for experience working in isolated field settings and/or shared living situations with little privacy, we are searching for particularly level-headed, resilient, and responsible individuals to join this year’s team. Review of applications will continue until positions are filled, and we aim to complete hiring by December 10. Food, housing, and required transportation within Panama will be provided, as well as a $500 honorarium upon completion of the field season to help defray costs of health insurance and personal purchases. Assistants will also be reimbursed for round-trip airfare to Panama City, Panama or David, Panama (up to $750) upon completion of the field season, and will need to provide their own snake gaiters (~$50) and negative Covid test within 48 hours of travel. Food, housing, and required transportation within Panama will be provided. For more information on the research, see ( Ongoing outreach efforts associated with this work include a live-streaming webcam of manakin activity run in collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and archived footage from last year can be viewed here: .
Applicants should be enthusiastic, physically fit, and able to communicate clearly when they encounter difficulties. Expect to work long days (6am-6pm six days a week), be woken at 4 am by howler monkeys on a regular basis, and see some amazing bird behavior. A sense of humor, ability to work independently, and willingness to accommodate unpredictable changes is especially important. Conversational Spanish ability is strongly preferred for this position. Assistants are also required to complete online animal care and use training shortly after being hired. Because of travel restrictions to enter Panama and the risks of conducting fieldwork during a pandemic, successful applicants will need to provide proof that they are fully vaccinated for Covid-19 by Dec 31, 2021.
Contact Person
Emily DuVal
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