JAGUAR & HOWLER MONKEY RESEARCH FELLOWSHIP ONLINE
Perform Critical Research on Jaguars and Howler Monkeys!
- 100% online
- Earn 100 research hours for VMCAS vet school applications
- Have a direct impact on the conservation of howler monkeys and jaguars in Belize
- Work alongside primatologist Dr. Kayla Hartwell to perform critical research necessary for the reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys to Runaway Creek Nature Reserve
- Gain valuable research experience in wildlife conservation, primate behavior, camera trap surveys, wildlife monitoring techniques, vegetation sampling, and conducting literature reviews for research proposals
JOIN THE RESEARCH TEAM
Join the research team from the Foundation for Wildlife Conservation (FWC) to study jaguars and howler monkeys at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve in Belize. FWC is a small non-profit organization that owns and manages Runaway Creek. The reserve is over 6,000 acres of tropical forest that serves as a critical piece of the Maya Forest Corridor in Central Belize. This unique online fellowship will encompass two on-going projects at Runaway Creek and will require the students to work with long-term data on howler monkeys and jaguars.
Work alongside primatologist Dr. Kayla Hartwell to gather information and analyze data as a critical step toward the reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys to Runaway Creek Nature Reserve. Following a destructive hurricane in 2010, howler monkeys slowly disappeared from the reserve. To help bring howler monkeys back to Runaway Creek and increase their genetic diversity within the corridor, FWC will release ex-captive howler monkeys who have gone through a successful rehabilitation process and are ready for survival in the wild.
In addition to participating in the study of howler monkeys, students will gain valuable experience conducting research on jaguars. They will help the FWC team compile and organize over 10 years of camera trap images on jaguars and other wildlife (eg. tapirs, pumas, ocelots, coatis) at Runaway Creek using a specialized research software program. Research fellows will learn how to individually identify jaguars and compile a complete species list for the reserve. This information will be critical to the management of Runaway Creek within the Maya Forest Corridor.
Through a combination of lectures, assignments and one-one-one instruction, students will be introduced to conservation issues within the Maya Forest Corridor, primate behavior, wildlife monitoring and research techniques, the importance of vegetation sampling, and other ongoing research by the FWC team.
This fellowship is virtual, based on twice weekly lectures and meetings led by the FWC staff. The curriculum is based on current and past data collected at Runaway Creek Nature Reserve. Following the initial introductory block session, meeting times will be twice a week for 1-2 hours as well as virtual office hours for one-on-one time with FWC staff.
Your primary projects will include (100 Research Hours required):
Howler monkey sighting and behavior data: You will help analyze data on the howler monkeys at Runaway Creek to determine when howler numbers started to decline following the hurricane. You will learn data collection methods for studying primates in the wild and will learn simple data analysis tools while also calculating howler activity budgets and diet profiles.
Vegetation sampling: Studying the vegetation prior to releasing the howler monkeys is critical to a successful reintroduction so that the habitat is deemed suitable with enough food resources to support monkeys. You will learn how to collect and analyze vegetation data and fruit phenology to determine howler food availability within the areas selected for release.
Camera trap data: For over ten years, FWC has used a series of motion sensor camera traps within the 6,000-acre reserve to monitor and study wild animals. Camera traps are an effective method for collecting data on elusive species with minimal impact to the animals. You will help the FWC team organize and review camera trap images to compile a complete species list of animals at Runaway Creek. You will also learn how to individually identify jaguars and analyze camera trap photos of jaguars to determine relative abundance, site fidelity, population density, and record observations of unique behaviors.
Literature Review: You will compile articles from peer-reviewed journals as part of FWC’s research projects. Topics will include research methodology and data analysis using camera traps, wildlife rehabilitation and reintroduction of howler monkeys and other neotropical primates, wildlife corridors and conservation issues with the development of roads. You will research a topic, compile information from multiple resources, and complete a paper discussing your findings. The information you gather in your literature review will be useful to FWC for future research proposals, presentations, publications, and grant applications.
Goals and Learning Objectives:
Learn about the behavior, ecology, and conservation status of primates in Belize
Analyze past data on howler monkey sightings at Runaway Creek to determine critical information on their decline following a major hurricane
Analyze vegetation data and fruit phenology to determine howler food availability at the release areas
Learn how to individually identify jaguars and analyze camera trap photos of jaguars to determine relative abundance, site fidelity, population density, and record observations of unique behaviors
Organize and review ten years of camera trap data to compile a species list of animals at Runaway Creek
Your impact as a research fellow…
Your work as a research fellow with FWC will have a direct impact on the conservation of howler monkeys and jaguars in Belize. The information you gather during your fellowship will be critical to a successful reintroduction of endangered black howler monkeys. Furthermore, you will have a first-hand impact on the management and protection of jaguars and other threatened species within the Maya Forest Corridor.
Further your studies…
Other topics presented and discussed will include wildlife rehabilitation, tapir research at Runaway Creek, species identification, and basic statistical analysis.
Students may apply from anywhere in the world. You must be fluent in English and have internet fast enough for video call (minimum 1Mbps) and a computer with video playback, microphone, and sound. No experience with zoos, research, or veterinary medicine is required.
PROGRAM DATES AND MEETING TIMES
This virtual fellowship will not be running during summer 2021, as we will be offering the program IN-PERSON through our partner Loop Abroad! Checkout www.loopabroad.com for full details. This fellowship will once again be offered in virtual format come fall 2021. Email [email protected] for details about the waitlist.
- Orientation – Saturday
- In Session – Every Tue & Thurs
- Closing Session – Saturday
- Office Hours – By appointment on Thursdays
Virtual office hours for one-on-one time with FWC and Runaway Creek staff will be available. Each fellowship session is limited to 20 fellows to ensure substantial customized mentorship.
Enrollment is rolling and sessions will close as soon as they fill. If a fellowship session is still listed here, there are still positions available.4-
Since COVID-19 disrupted many students’ travel and educational plans, we are heavily discounting tuition to help pre-veterinary students meet their goals!
Full tuition is $2,000 $1495 — discounted 25% for Spring and Summer 2021
There are no additional readings, technology subscriptions, or course materials you have to purchase to participate in this research fellowship.
- All instruction directly from experts
- Online platforms for video sessions, reflections, and discussion
SCHOLARSHIP AND FUNDING IDEAS
Want to study abroad but not sure if you can afford it? You are not alone! Whilst studying abroad gives you an appreciation for the world outside of your home country, grows your character and confidence, gives you great opportunities, may still worry about paying off student debt in the future. Thankfully there are a couple of options you can pursue that may make that trip of a lifetime a little bit more affordable.
The Gilman Scholarship offers awards of $5000 for undergraduate study abroad for U.S. undergraduate students who are receiving Federal Pell Grant funding at a two-year or four-year college or university. Talk to us about applying!
Many of our alumni have been successful raising money from friends, family, and community through crowdfunding. Tell your story, share your passion, and people may want to be a part of your adventure and growth!
The Gilman-McCain Scholarship is open to US citizen undergraduate students who are child dependents of active duty service members and receiving any type of Title IV federal financial aid to participate in study abroad programs worldwide.