Recent activity

Voluntary Research Assistantship with the Oxford Navigation Group, on Skomer Island, Wales.

James Evry, December 17, 2016

We are looking for an enthusiastic, hardworking young biologist to work as a voluntary Research Assistant to help with our pelagic seabird research on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire, Wales, in Spring and Summer 2017. The work will involve several research projects coordinated by Prof Tim Guilford at Oxford’s Department of Zoology (see the OxNav website). We utilise state-of-the art tracking technologies (miniature GPS, geolocators, time-depth recorders, etc) on several species of seabirds but mainly on Manx shearwaters. Most work will involve assisting doctoral students with the day-to-day monitoring of breeding birds and with deploying and retrieving tracking devices. It will also involve entering data collected in the field into appropriate databases. There will be a significant amount of nocturnal work, since the primary study species is the Manx Shearwater, which only arrives at the colony after dark. The role will also involve monitoring Atlantic puffins tracked with geolocators and helping with their recapture (with some work to be carried out at dawn) as part of a project led by Dr Annette Fayet.

Unfortunately we cannot provide a stipend but (shared and basic) accommodation on Skomer will be provided. However, the project is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience in modern field ornithology. There will also be opportunities for the assistant to learn some analytical techniques applied to animal movement data. Skomer has mobile coverage and some access to Internet, however movements to and from the mainland are limited due to unpredictable wind conditions. There is a small community of wardens, assistants and volunteers, who are involved in the running and conservation of the Nature Reserve, monitoring the seabird populations, and managing the daily and over-night visitors. There might be opportunities to visit other UK island reserves during the project. There will also be scope for involvement in other conservation and ecological projects on the island, which is a National Nature Reserve administered by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales.

Profile: we are looking for a motivated and hardworking biologist, who likes working in the field and can cope with difficult working and living conditions, and who can work with us between April and September 2017 (with some flexibility for the start and end dates). Previous experience in the field or in harsh conditions is desirable, but not essential. Work on Skomer requires long hours (with some work at night and at dawn) spent in a cold and wet environment and considerable manual work. A good candidate should be able to work independently and have a reasonable level of fitness. Planning to embark on further research degrees in the future would be a plus (previous assistants have engaged in doctoral studies afterwards). It is also important that the assistant feels comfortable sharing sometimes crowded accommodation with a number of colleagues over long periods of time, and can cope with the occasional untidiness inevitably associated with fieldwork. Unfortunately, for administrative reasons, we can only accept applications from people having permission to work in the UK (UK and EU citizens, UK residents, or persons with a UK work permit).

How to apply: If you are interested, please email a CV and a statement of interest, and arrange for two letters of reference to be emailed to (with, and in cc). Please note that providing names of referees is not enough, the candidate needs to arrange for their referees to email us a reference (unfortunately we do not have time to contact each referee individually). The deadline for submitting applications (including reference letters) is the 12th February 2017. We will interview the best candidates on Skype shortly after and we expect to make a decision by the end of February.

PDF version