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Appeal for ‘hardy volunteers’ for duck tracking study

Appeal for ‘hardy volunteers’ for duck tracking study

Mallard hen and chicks in the south Waikato.

Planning a science career and keen on ducks?

Fish & Game is appealing for two volunteers to help with crucial field research into mallard ducks.

An extensive research programme focused on the birds is now well underway, it includes a telemetry tracking study in the Waikato Region in partnership with the University of Auckland.

The ducks have been tracked through the breeding season to investigate the factors that determine nesting success and brood survival.

Auckland/ Waikato Fish & Game officer David Klee says the two field assistants are need for six months from June to December 2014, and while the jobs are unpaid, food and accommodation is provided. One person will be stationed in the Hamilton region, and the other near Invercargill where a South Island part of the study is underway.

Mr Klee says that while the work is voluntary, it provides a “great opportunity” to gain some valuable field experience, and be involved in one of Fish & Game’s most important current mallard studies, which involves comparing two widely separated mallard populations, one in the North, the other the deep south.

The positions are open to overseas applicants as well though they must cover their own air fares to and from New Zealand.

Mr Klee says obviously they’re looking for volunteers who are physically fit and who can cope happily with some testing wintry conditions, especially in the South Island.

“Duties include helping capture and handle female ducks, radio-tracking mallard ducks using radio tracking equipment, nest searching, and the monitoring of mallard nests and broods.”

We’d prefer for obvious reasons to find people with previous experience of telemetry tracking who have carried out observations of duck broods, he adds. “Some months will be busier than others but the technicians will have enough time to travel and explore the country.”

Mr Klee says the project is being spearheaded by a highly experienced researcher, a graduate student from Canada, Jen Sheppard, who’s working on her PhD.

We went through an exhaustive process, an international head hunt, to find a suitable student to take on the project as part of a major PhD study. Our search took us to Canada and we’re happy that Jenn Sheppard took up the post.

“She has dedicated a large portion of her academic career to studying mallards in both Canada and the United States, and is an invaluable addition to the team.”


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