"Welcome!"

Welcome! Our lab works at the interface of ecology, behavior, evolution, and conservation biology. We focus on how the ecological and social environments that animals experience shape their behavior and ecology, and vice-versa. Active research in South America, Australasia, and the Gulf of Mexico includes plant-animal interactions, mating systems and signal evolution, movement ecology, and endangered species. Our lab takes a socially engaged approach that combines research with capacity building, training, and education in the biodiversity hotspots where we work.

Spring 2017

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2017

As the spring semester comes to a close, the lab has some exciting updates since our last post.
Two of our Ph.D. candidates, Sam and Luke, are graduating this semester!

Luke successfully defended his dissertation this spring! After graduation and helping lead the Spring offering of our Tropical Ecology and Conservation class in Ecuador, he will make a migration westward to start a postdoc position at the La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science at UCLA this fall.

Sam successfully defended her thesis in March, and also published one of her chapters earlier this year (Lantz et al. 2017).

Brock has begun his fieldwork for another season, and is also assisting in other coastal bird projects around Louisiana! Him and Kristen Rosamond, a Tulane undergraduate, have received funding together from the Louisiana SeaGrant UROP and Tulane Newcomb Institute. Brock has also received grants from the LDWF Louisiana Environmental Education Commission, Tulane EEB department and American Ornithological Society to continue his work.

Erik had a busy spring returning to the field in Papua New Guinea for some additional data collection. His paper (with Sam and Jordan) on Malurus fairywren feather structure was accepted for publication in Ecology and Evolution (Enbody et al. 2017). He and Jordan also received an NSF doctoral dissertation improvement grant (DDIG) for their work on genetic mechanisms of coloration in the White-shouldered Fairywren.

Zoë defended her prospectus earlier in the semester, and passed with flying colors! She has been travelling throughout Ecuador since January collecting Oenocarpus samples for her project.

John presented data collected during his first field season in Papua New Guinea at the Society of Integrative of Comparative Biology held in NOLA in January, 2017. Currently, he is in Papua New Guinea (with Australia following) conducting his second pilot field season in Western and Milne Bay Provinces. John also published two papers this semester in Ethology (Jones et al. 2017) and Global Ecology and Conservation (McNeil et al. 2017).

Sarah has been busy taking classes s well as preparing for her field season in Brisbane, Australia where she will be collecting data for her dissertation as well as leading this summer’s cohort of IRES students. You can find updates of their season on the IRES website! She also received a a grant from the Tulane EEB department to support her work.

Jordan enjoyed teaching Experimental Animal Behavior this Spring, a course in which students conduct independent research projects on animal behavior at the zoo, and is looking forward to co-teaching a Tropical Field Biology course with Dr. Luke Browne and Dr. Renata Ribeiro in Ecuador this summer. Jordan was a co-author on a paper with former honors thesis student Erik Iverson in the journal Auk that summarizes the current understanding about bare part coloration in birds (Iverson and Karubian 2017). Jordan co-authored a paper with Jenny Hazlehurst on hummingbird pollination biology that came out in Journal of Pollination Biology (Hazlehurst et al. 2017). Jordan also joined the board of the Jocotoco Foundation in Ecuador.

The lab received a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation with Dr. Renata Ribeiro and Dr. Howard Meilke to continue research on impacts of sub-lethal exposure to lead on mockingbird behavior and condition.

The lab is also excited to welcome Kaushik Narasimhan as a new PhD student, who will start at Tulane in Fall 2017 with a fellowship from the Louisiana Board of Regents.

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Fall 2016

Posted by on Oct 13, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2016

Another summer has come and gone – lab members have travelled far and wide for field work and conferences, and have now returned to New Orleans for the fall semester.

We are excited to welcome our two new Ph.D students, John Jones and Sarah Khalil!

John joined the lab with funding from a Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowship. He got an early start on research with a preliminary field experience with fairy wrens in Australia and Papua New Guinea this past summer. Now he is adjusting to the heat of New Orleans while preparing to conduct more field work in Papua New Guinea during the start of the spring semester.

Sarah is funded by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. She returned at the start of the summer from a field season in Kenya, finishing her research at Columbia University studying superb starlings. She later joined the IRES crew for a preliminary field season in Australia, and now is excited to be in New Orleans where she gets to escape the cold winters of New York.

Sam returned from the field in Australia, finishing her last field season while leading the NSF IRES crew. While down under, she was awarded best student oral presentation at the Queensland Ornithological Conference for her presentation on non-breeding season space use in male fairywrens.

Brock completed another field season in the northern Gulf, tracking a cohort of breeding brown pelicans while continuing long-term demographic surveys on Raccoon Island.

Erik returned from Papua New Guinea and spent the remainder of the summer digging into analyzing his data from the field season.

After finishing up their respective field seasons, the bird side of the lab all met up at the end of the summer in Washington D.C. for the North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC 2016). The lab was well represented at the conference – Sam presented work on how the environment influences sociality in fairywrens, Brock presented some of his preliminary findings, Erik presented his work on the White-shouldered fairy wrens, and John presented on his previous master’s work.

Luke and Jordan’s study “Negative frequency-dependent selection for rare genotypes promotes genetic diversity of a tropical palm” was accepted for publication in Ecology Letters (link to PDF)! Another paper on the “Diversity of palm communities at different spatial scales in a recently fragmented tropical landscape” (Browne and Karubian 2016) was published in the Palms – emblems of tropical forests special issue of the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. Luke finished up his last field season of his dissertation this summer with Tulane undergrad Mike Mahoney, hiked the Camino de Santiago in Spain, and presented at the Ecuadorian Ornithology Congress with colleagues from Ecuador.

In New Orleans, Zoë completed a pilot project examining neutral genetic differentiation of 8 populations across Ecuador on both sides of the Andes. She is now preparing her prospectus and plans to be in the field during the spring semester to do extensive sampling of Oenocarpus bataua along both sides of the Andes.

Jordan had an active summer, with international travel to Australia where he helped to provide training to our current group of NSF-funded IRES students and to Ecuador, where he gave a presentation at the V Ecuadorian Ornithology Congress in Zamora. He also spent time working with Renata Ribeiro and Stephanie McClelland studying mockingbirds right here in New Orleans. He published a paper (Karubian et al. 2016) with Luke Browne, Malinda Chambers (a former Tulane undergrad and 4+1 MS student), and local Ecuadorian residents in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society.

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