There is a fascinating population of Italian Wall Lizards living in Boston's Fenway Gardens. Even during the height of the pandemic, members of the Lizard Team were able to do some fieldwork observing and tracking the lizard population at this novel site for the species. In the first of several publications the team is leading from this time, we recently published a Natural History Note in Herpetological Review describing a couple of instances of avian predation observed: a hawk and a grackle separately preyed on individuals from this population. The population has only been around for a short number of years, and there are no native lizards in this region, so this represented novel predatory behaviors on a no-analog lizard population in the region. Scroll to page 500 of this [PDF] for some interesting observation and incredible photos published -- congrats team!
Congratulations to Beth and the team for publishing a strong, thoughtful, and evidence-based reply to an earlier comment in Molecular Ecology.
The take-home: there are a lot of challenges and opportunities when it comes to using dietary DNA metabarcoding strategies to advance a variety of important research agendas; Beth is leading the way when it comes to clear-thinking about how we conduct our studies and how we can strengthen the evidence we use to support our conclusions.
The exemplary professional, Beth exposes persistent and potentially problematic misconceptions in the field in a way that is clear, constructive, and self-reflective. Whether or not our decisions about how to code dietary DNA metabarcoding data have a qualitative influence on our ecological interpretations is a question that we should all be asking. Beth and the team provide invaluable insight into when we might need to pay particular attention to this issue, and offer a blueprint to help us address the issue in a more structured way by sharing computer code that we wrote to conduct simulation studies and sensitivity analyses with real data.
Littleford-Colquhoun BL, Sackett VI, Tulloss CV, Kartzinel TR. 2022. Evidence-based strategies to navigate the complexity of dietary DNA: a reply. Molecular Ecology doi: 10.1111/mec.16712. [PDF]
I am excited to announce that I anticipate opportunities to recruit a new PhD student in 2023!
General details regarding the opportunity are presented in the slide below; please check out our 'Research' and 'Join the Lab' pages for additional relevant information. There are especially exciting avenues for research involving our international collaboration concerning the food webs of Fray Jorge National Park in Chile, but inquiries are welcome from those who are generally interested in any of our ongoing projects.
We were honored to have Haldre Rogers join the lab during her visit this week. We are huge fans of Haldre -- not only did she give a phenomenal EEOB departmental seminar, but she hung out for a few days to work with us and connect with students. Each year that I teach my 'Conservation genomics' course, we partner with external collaborators to address a real-world conservation problem through our semester-long research projects. This year, one group has entered a collaboration with Haldre and her network of collaborators to better understand the ecology of bird loss in the Northern Mariana Islands. By the end of the year, we plan to report back on the diets of remnant bird populations using dietary DNA metabarcoding methods. We just finished PCR week, and Haldre joined us to do some pipetting!
We were lucky to get to work with Hannah over the summer at Yellowstone, but now with the start of a new semester it's official... Welcome to the lab, Hannah!
Hannah arrives in the lab to start her Ph.D. work as a plant community ecologist with interests in understanding how the activities of large mammals at Yellowstone influence the long-term composition of plant communities. Hannah plans to connect field observations with manipulative experiments and DNA barcoding to understand the complex food web of this incredible system. Hannah will be working closely with the National Parks Service in the field. Here at Brown, she will be engaged with EEOB, IBES, and DSI via her participation in an NIH T32 grant that focuses on scientific communication. We feel so lucky to have Hannah join us and so excited to see how the amazing work she is doing will pay off!
A great way to end the summer of 2022 -- major success for two postdocs in the lab!
Colin Donihue, Voss Postdoc in IBES, accepted a full-time position as a Data Analyst at the Brown Division of Campus Life. We are so happy to know that we will get to keep seeing Colin around campus! Colin has been an amazing collaborator, lab mate, and mentor to a number of undergraduates who are completing theses and coauthoring papers. Students at Brown are lucky that he will now be applying his research creativity and skillsets toward a data-driven opportunity to improve quality of life on campus! Woohoo!
Ezequiel Vanderhoeven, CONICET International Postdoc in EEOB, was awarded an Organization for Tropical Studies Early Career Fellowship! This award is an honor and a unique opportunity to join a storied community of field ecologists. Eze's project is titled "Health and nutrition of anteaters, armadillos, and sloths (Order Xenarthra)" and it will be carried out at La Selva Research Station. Fantastic opportunities lie ahead for Eze -- well deserved!
Collaborator and University of Wyoming PhD student, Leo Malingati, appears on an episode of the documentary series Wildlife Warriors and shares his experience studying the small mammals of Mpala Research Centre!
The conversation featuring our work to analyze small mammal diets -- poop science!
Short video available on YouTube. Episode on Vimeo.
It feels good to have more of the lab getting back into the swing of fieldwork after the worst years of the early pandemic!
The lab has always maintained some field activity throughout the pandemic. Ezequiel has been remote from field sites across Argentina, Robert and Peter have been keeping active at Mpala in Kenya, and Colin (and the lizard team) as well as Amanda (and the terrapin team) had managed to keep active around the northeastern US. But a lot of us had to cut back or go it alone more than we would have liked. The tide is turning, though!
This summer we have had a group led by Beth (postdoc), Hannah (incoming grad student), and Maddy (UTRA student) at Yellowstone -- collecting dung, surveying plants, coordinating with collaborators -- with support from our scientific partners at the National Park Service and the Brown University Herbarium. Amidst the ongoing recovery from disastrous flooding along the Yellowstone River, we were able to get out into the field together to advance a number of priority projects for the lab.
We are super grateful to funders: NSF (CAREER & EPSCoR award), Department of Interior (Cooperative Agreement), Brown University (UTRA & IBES).
The quintessential group photo of the team:
The lab is hiring a new research assistant! This is a unique opportunity to join a talented, friendly, and collaborative group of researchers who are making a difference in molecular ecology. The position is perfect for a college graduate seeking lab experience and publication opportunities before graduate school. A brief description is below. If you are interested, apply soon!
The lab of Dr. Tyler Kartzinel at Brown University (www.kartzinellab.com) is seeking a Research Assistant to support research on the diets, microbiomes, and metagenomes of wildlife. The Research Assistant will devote ~80% of their time to specific research projects and the remaining ~20% time to general maintenance and lab support. The Research Assistant will be welcomed as a full lab member and be expected to attend lab meetings and to contribute to a supportive and interactive lab atmosphere. The Research Assistant will interface with varied research facilities including the Brown University Genomics Facility, Brown University Herbarium, Brown Center for Animal Resources and Education and diverse collaborators on our NSF-funded projects around the world. This is a unique opportunity to become deeply involved in exciting research at the interface of ecology, genetics, and conservation. As such, it is well-suited for a college graduate seeking additional experience before graduate school.
The individual who fills the position will have opportunities to collaborate on important partnerships around the world. Please see our Research Page for examples of funded projects that are relevant to the position. Please see our People Page to get a sense for the diversity of collaborative efforts happening in the lab.
Find full details in the the official job description Brown's Career Site (REQ177255). I plan to review applications on a rolling basis and hope to fill the position in summer of 2022. I will continue reviewing applications until the position is filled. Please email the PI with any inquiries about the position.