Zoological Field Assistant – Iceland

Job reference:
BAS 20/37
Contract type:
Full-Time, Fixed-Term
3 months.
£24,272 per annum initially. Additionally, upon completion of a successful tour, you will receive a bonus of up to 10%.
We offer generous benefits
Ecosystems team
Closing date:
23 February, 2020 11:59 pm


British Antarctic Survey is offering a unique opportunity as a Zoological Field Assistant based in Iceland to work on Project LOMVIA; a NERC funded project that is part of the Changing Arctic Ocean Programme.

What is about?

This aims of the project is to examine the interactive effects of competition and environmental change on an Arctic and temperate seabird in Iceland. For further details see the project website: https://www.changing-arctic-ocean.ac.uk/project/lomvia/

The applicant will work for five weeks on two sites in Iceland (Langanes in the NE and Skrudur in the E) and will support the fieldwork of scientists from BAS Cambridge. Work will involve capturing guillemots from ledges with a noose pole whilst self-belayed, ringing and measuring them and equipping them with tracking devices. Birds will then be recaptured a few days later to recover the devices. The postholder will assist with secure management of data, contribute text and images to fieldwork blogs.

The posts will begin on 1 May 2020 and will run for 2.5 to 3 months, of which one will be based in Iceland and the rest will be based at BAS in Cambridge. Full costs of transport, accommodation and food while in Iceland will be met by the project.

Who are we ?

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. British Antarctic Survey is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation www.ukri.org

We employ experts from many different professions to carry out our Science as well as to keep the lights on, feed the research and support teams and keep everyone safe! If you are looking for an opportunity to work with amazing people in amazing places then British Antarctic Survey could be for you. We aim to attract the best people for those jobs.


The postholder will work on Project LOMVIA to support collection of field data that will describe the foraging habitat preferences and diets of Brunnich’s and Common Guillemots on Iceland across a steep environmental gradient. The overarching aims are to understand the interactions between competition and environment and how these might influence species responses to climate change. The postholder will be visiting two sites: Langanes in the NE and Skrudur in the E. They will assist the project PDRA with data collection.

The postholder will also participate in fieldwork preparation and data cleaning/processing while based in Cambridge.


  • Capturing guillemots on cliffs using fowling pole using appropriate safety equipment and methods
  • Processing birds, including taking biometric measurements, ringing, equipping them with tracking devices (GPS, Time depth recorders), collecting samples of blood.
  • Coding and managing data and samples (including already existing data while based in Cambridge).
  • Maintaining good working relations with project partners, landowners, wardens, service providers and the general public.

Please quote the following reference for any queries: BAS 20/37
Closing date for receipt of applications form is: 23rd February 2020
Interviews are scheduled to be held on: 2nd March 2020

As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting equality in careers in science, we hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award and have an active Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme of activity. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. People from ethnic minorities and disabled people are currently under-represented and their applications are particularly welcome.

Antarctic deployment involves working in a remote and harsh environment where adaptations to working, living and recreation areas are not achievable to a level that might be expected in the UK. There is a Genuine Occupational Requirement to be physically capable of negotiating rough, icy and snowy terrain as well as being mentally resilient and medically fit.

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Communication skills - a) oral skills b) written skills

  • Fluent in written and spoken English (or French) language - Essential
  • Ability to produce basic report on field season activities - Essential
  • Ability to converse in Icelandic - Desirable [5]

Computer / IT skills

  • Ability to manage tracking devices with proprietary software - Essential
  • Basic coding and reporting in Word and Excel - Essential
  • Ability to process data in R - Desirable [4]

Decision Making

  • Ability to make day to day decisions on activities within the guidelines of the work programme prescribed by the manager - Essential
  • Ability to recognise when circumstances require going beyond work programme and consulting with manager. - Essential

Interpersonal skills

  • Ability to engage positively and respectfully with project partners, landowners, wardens, service providers and tourists - Essential

Managerial ability

  • Ability to organise own time to reach fieldwork objectives - Essential


  • Driving license - Essential
  • Ringing license (seabird specific acceptable) - Desirable [3]
  • IRATA rope access qualification or equivalent - Desirable [3]
  • BSc or MSc in biological subject - Desirable [3]

Resource Management ability

  • Ability to follow NERC expenses policy guidelines and stay within T&S budget defined by manager - Essential

Skills / Experience

  • Experience handling and ringing seabirds - Essential
  • Experience of using harnesses, ropes, belay equipment for safe working at height, plus a good head for heights - Essential
  • Ability to travel over difficult terrain and tolerate long, unsociable working hours and inclement weather conditions - Essential
  • Fitting tracking devices to seabirds - Desirable [1]
  • Taking blood samples from seabirds - Desirable [1]
  • Experience using rope access in the context of working on cliff-nesting birds - Desirable [1]

You can apply for this job online or you can print off the application forms, fill them out by hand and mail them.

Apply Online:

Apply by post:

If you would like to apply for this job but cannot apply online, you can print the application form(s) and post it back to us.

Please ensure you complete all required sections of the application form(s) and include a Cover Letter and a copy of your CV.

When posting your application, ensure there is sufficient postage.

These forms are in an OpenDocument format and may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. An accessible format may be requested by contacting us.

Send your completed application forms to:
Human Resources Team
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross, Madingley Road
United Kingdom

If you need more information

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 221400
Facsimile: +44 (0)1223 362616

The information you provide during the application process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements where necessary or, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire, to help BAS meet its equal opportunities policy.

The British Antarctic Survey will not share the information you provide with any third parties, and the information will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. Please note that the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will be detached from your application prior to the short-listing of candidates for interview.

Unsuccessful applications will be securely destroyed 6 months after the end of the recruitment process (or 1 year after the end of the recruitment process in the case of Marine Staff and AEP. The applications of successful applicants will be retained as part of their personnel file.

Further information can be found in the information notice of NERC, our parent body.