The project is an investigation into immune system ontogeny and the differential ability of the sexes to respond to infection in the Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki). Sea lions are well suited to studies of sexual selection because they are sexually dimorphic and live in crowded conditions that can lead to high levels of pathogen-driven mortality. I'm using a combination of field challenge experiments and laboratory techniques to characterise how males and females combat infection. This research will contribute to my PhD and follows on from previous work carried out by my supervisor Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse.
Two field assistants are sought to help with the sampling of sea lion pups on the Galapagos Islands of San Cristobal and Santa Fe between 17th February and 13th May 2009. We will initially tag as many pups as possible from each island. Then we will recapture tagged pups as frequently as feasible and examine body condition, carry out an eye exam and take a blood sample. This process requires three people as the pups need to be restrained, data needs to be recorded and samples need to be processed on site. Blood samples and data will be further processed in the Galapagos Genetics Epidemiology and Pathology Laboratory in the evenings. Some camping may be involved, so applicants must be comfortable working in remote environments with minimum conveniences.
While food and accommodation are provided, volunteers will have to cover the cost of their flights. Good candidates will have field experience in remote locations, an interest in evolutionary biology and functional Spanish. Veterinary field and lab experience would be useful but are not required. Priority will be given to Ecuadorian applicants.
If interested, please get in touch as soon as possible and to apply please include a CV and covering letter (paddy.brock@ ioz.ac.uk).