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!
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:
Congratulations to Dr. Ezequiel Vanderhoeven for your Rufford Foundation Grant! Ezequiel plans to study infectious diseases circulating in populations of armadillo species native to the Argentinian Chaco. The goal of the study is to understand how diseases impact populations of these species for the benefit of conservation and to support local governments and communities in the adoption of environmental practices that minimize the risk of spillover. It is an extremely important and ambitious project. The Rufford award not only provides crucial financial support, but also represents a valuable endorsement of the work from a leading international authority on applied conservation biology.
While everyone in the lab continues to be impacted by the global pandemic, we also pause to appreciate our increased opportunity to begin resuming research and to extend our welcome to the new lab members who are joining us this summer.
Last week, Amanda Lyons (left) and Bianca Brown (right) braved the rainy weather to kick off our terrapin field season. Diamondback terrapins are the only "critically imperiled" reptile in Rhode Island, and a major conservation priority for the state. Amanda and Bianca were joined by our collaborators from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and The Roger Williams Park Zoo. Our research goal is to understand how genetically interconnected are the remaining few terrapin populations in the state, and relatedness to populations from neighboring states. This research is supported in part by a 2019 Voss Undergraduate Research Fellowship in Environmental Science and Communication to Amanda Lyons. Congratulations Amanda, and thanks IBES for supporting this research.
If only the weather had been better for setting up the study sites!
As the fall semester gets into swing, the lab is having a lot of fun and making progress on research. Several milestones should not go unnoticed, and there are photos to boot. In no particular order:
Several members of the lab are just back from an extremely productive field trip. Highlights include a DNA barcoding workshop at the National Museums of Kenya (led by Kartzinel and Gill, and Director Musili from the East African Herbarium), many pre-dawn captures of small mammals (led by Brown and collaborators from the Goheen lab), and many trees and and megaherbivores counted (led by Gill and Lokeny). Now the team is breaking in the new lab -- copious amounts of data to report soon! Photos of the highlights are below.
It was an honor to join this year's OTS (Organization for Tropical Studies) Graduate Field Ecology course last week at La Selva. This is a premier program in tropical ecology, and the course revolves around a series of short (~3 day) research projects led by students and faculty.
Days of rain made it difficult to do much research in the forest, but there was no shortage of plants and wildlife to learn about at the station. You should read the course's blog to learn more about what everyone was up to.
Carissa Ganong and Andrew Mehring made an outstanding team of lead faculty - it was a thrill to join them!
Thanks to a new, inspiring conservation organization — Biodiversity Initiative — for inviting our lab to join research and conservation efforts in the understudied tropical forests of Equatorial Guinea.
Highlights from a brief visit include: