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!
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!
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 Robert Ang'ila on the successful defense of his MSc thesis. Robert has pioneered important work at the Kenya ForestGEO site located at Mpala Research Centre, where he ran camera traps and conducted vegetation surveys to understand how large mammalian herbivores interact with their physical and biotic environments. Robert's insightful thesis results will have a mark on the field and launch him forward in his career as a wildlife conservation researcher. Congratulations Robert!!
A very warm (belated) welcome to Ian Maywar, who has joined us as a laboratory research assistant. Ian has the coolest job in the country and we are unbelievably welcome to have him join us. Ian hails from Skidmore College, where he pursued both biology and mathematics; he excels in both. Ian's undergraduate thesis focused on the molecular ecology of avian malaria. In our lab, Ian is already leading some crucial molecular analyses of plant genetics, wildlife diets, and microbiomes that will directly inform NSF funded research projects and conservation.