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:
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) just released a “BioInteractive” lab featuring our research on the diets of savanna herbivores.
Educators and students in high school and college biology courses will go on an expedition to Mpala Research Centre in Kenya, where they can investigate niche partitioning as a mechanism that enables similar species to coexist.
This extraordinarily engaging and informative BioInteractive module is inspired by — and uses real data from — our 2015 PNAS paper: “DNA metabarcoding illuminates dietary niche partitioning by African large herbivores.” The paper is becoming a “textbook” example of niche partitioning and DNA-based approaches in ecology.
Together with Rob Pringle and our collaborators, we hope this interactive will reach thousands of students worldwide.
As we kick off the new academic year, we extend the warmest welcome to Dr. Brian Gill, inaugural IBES postdoc in the lab. Brian's doctoral research fused a cutting-edge molecular tool kit with some extremely rugged field research to test important ideas in ecology and evolution. For example, Brian used DNA barcoding to identify a huge diversity of mayflies from tropical and temperate streams, revealing that their elevational ranges are narrower in the tropics, where species may be more sensitive to the effects of climate change -- a result that may not have been so clearcut in the absence of molecular data, due to the prevalence of cryptic species. We all look forward to benefiting from Brian's leadership and skills as we study how species are respond to environmental changes in New England, in East Africa, and around the world.
Two graduate students are joining the Kartzinel Lab in Fall of 2017!
Bianca Brown is arriving from the Rand Lab, where she investigated how climate change may alter the microbiomes of barnacles and fruit flies. Bianca is developing cutting-edge research on how defaunation—the decline of African large herbivores in particular—can have cascading effects on the diets and gut microbiota of other herbivores in the community. With better understanding of these relationships, we expect to help improve wildlife conservation and reintroduction programs.
Patrick Freeman is arriving from Stanford, where he began researching the behavior and conservation of African elephants. Through his photographs and presentations, Patrick shares his experiences in ways that have brought his audiences to tears. By integrating a new repertoire of laboratory analyses with on-the-ground fieldwork, we aim to develop rigorous conservation strategies to protect for countless plants and animals in Kenya (especially the really big ones)!