Adélie Penguin Population Ecology Internships

Point Blue Conservation Science and H.T. Harvey & Associates

Updated: April 1, 2014

We are no longer accepting applications for 2014-15.
Please check back in Feb-Mar 2015 for information about the 2015-16 field season.

Overview: We will continue to evaluate population dynamics of Adélie Penguins at 4 colonies on or near Ross Island, southern Ross Sea, Antarctica. We collect data on many aspects of the species' breeding and wintering ecology - including foraging effort (using time depth recorders and satellite transmitters), meal-sizes and trip durations (automated PIT-tag readers with scales), chick condition, diet, reproductive success, adult and juvenile survivorship - with the objective of increasing our understanding of population structuring of this and other species through time. Why are some colonies bigger than others, why do they occur where they do, what sort of environmental changes impact populations the most, and what is “normal” variability? The project is described in more detail here.

Timing: Fieldwork begins approx Nov 15 and ends approx Feb 5. Mandatory health and dental clearance (required by NSF) at least 8 weeks prior to departure.

Role of Interns: Interns participate in all aspects of fieldwork and field-logistics, with guidance provided by senior staff on site. Most hours are spent searching for banded (known-age) penguins and recording nesting status, tasks requiring high levels of patience. Eyestrain is a concern as you will spend up to 8 hours per day reading bands through binoculars in very bright lighting conditions. Data work is also intensive - all data are digitized and proofed as they are collected. Interns will be encouraged to participate in some aspects of writing or analyses.

Interns are expected to be knowledgeable of the literature related to this project before deployment to Antarctica, and to have a passionate interest in ecology. The ideal candidate can effectively communicate how the experience will increase the likelihood of success in their future career. Challenging field conditions should not be underestimated: 2+ months in remote locations based out of tents or small huts, accessible in good weather conditions only by helicopter from McMurdo station, which in turn is only accessible by military aircraft from New Zealand. Temperatures range from -20 to +10 C, with intermittent severe windstorms.

Compensation: all intern expenses related to the project will be reimbursed. Flights from any US airport to New Zealand and hotel accommodations during transit are covered. Essential cold-weather clothing and related gear provided by NSF.

How to apply: Submit short resumé, 3 references (names, titles, emails), and cover letter explaining how working on this project is relevant to your career objectives to: Grant Ballard: gballard 'at' pointblue 'dot' org. Applications due by March 31.