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.

Fall 2014

Posted by on Oct 27, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2014

Autumn is here, and most lab members have returned from the far ends of the earth to New Orleans for fall semester at Tulane. It was quite the summer, and things show little sign of slowing down in the fall. Since the last update, we received a grant from the National Science Foundation for work on white-shouldered fairy-wrens in Papua New Guinea, and had publications come out in Evolution, Canadian Journal of Zoology, and Journal of Tropical Ecology.

Jenny Hazlehurst spent 3 months in Manu National Park, Peru, where she and her team took measurements from over 2,000 flowers and captured 80 hummingbirds. With support from the Animal Behavior Society, she also successfully used miniaturized radio telemetry technology to track the hummingbirds – one of the first projects ever to do so.
Jenny Fall 2014 update - telemetry tag

Luke Browne was in Ecuador, collecting data on palm dispersal and demography at Bilsa Biological Station and mentoring research by Malinda Chambers, now a +1 MS student in the lab, and John Bailey Cox, a Tulane undergrad. Luke is remaining down in Ecuador through the end of the year to study forest fragments, as described below.

Sam Fall 2014 update - DSC01705
Sam Lantz wrapped up fieldwork on red-backed fairy-wrens in Australia’s Northern Territory, with support from the National Science Foundation’s ‘International Research Experience for Student’s’ (IRES) program . In the context of IRES, Sam mentored Roxy Franta, a +1 MS student in the lab, and 6 undergrads including Tulane’s own Nicole Moody and Alex Gulachenski. Sam is now back in New Orleans analyzing data, and enjoying her new dog Piper.

Brock Geary worked with Dr. Scott Walter to successfully deploy 14 GPS tracking devices on brown pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico, with support from the National Geographic Society. He is now working through the trove of data he collected. Brock has been developing a collaboration to link pelican movements to distributions of the fish they forage upon with Dr. Kevin Purcell, a new friend of the lab!

Erik Enbody conducted research on white-shouldered fairy-wrens at our study site in Papua New Guinea’s Milne Bay Province, and gathered additional data from Western, and Enga Provinces. With support from the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, he and Max Alliaga to helped to produce a short film on this project and worked with resident Serena Ketaloya to provide a series of training workshops and educational events for local communities.

Zoe Diaz-Martin spent time in Ecuador becoming familiar with the field site, helping Luke, and also collecting seed trap data with local resident researcher Domingo Cabrera. Zoe is now busy taking classes and settling into life in New Orleans.

After wrangling pelicans over the summer, post-doc Dr. Scott Walter is currently in Ecuador, working with Luke and our friends at FCAT. They are leading a research team consisting of local residents, university students, and PhD level researchers. The team is assessing effects of forest fragmentation on biodiversity, with focused studies of many taxa including amphibians, mammals, understory bird communities, nocturnal birds, beetles, orchid bees, bird parasites, soil bacteria, palm species diversity, and forest structure. This project is supported by US Fish & Wildlife Service, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, CREOi, and Conservation, Food & Health Foundation.

Over the summer, Jordan Karubian caught up with Sam and the IRES team in Australia, and then visited Erik in Papua New Guinea. He traveled to the Animal Behavior Society meeting in August, as well as the American Ornithologists Union annual meeting in September, where he presented along with Sam, Erik and Brock. Jordan and friend of the lab Renata Ribeiro are currently seeking students for Tropical Field Biology and Conservation (EBIO 378), a summer field course in Ecuador! Stay tuned for our next update, in early 2015.

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Spring 2014

Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2014

Spring semester has come to an end, and the Lab is preparing to scatter to the far corners of the globe for research and conservation activities! Lots of exciting news from these past few months, and lots of good things to look forward to.

Brock and Scott are already in the midst of field work with Brown Pelicans on the Gulf Coast, deploying GPS tracking units, and researching chick survival. Brock received a SeaGrant to bring on undergrad Lily Armstrong-Davies as a field assistant.


Jenny received a grant from the Animal Behavior Society to continue work on nectar robbery and hummingbird pollination this summer. She’ll be heading out to the field mid to late summer to Peru, radio telemetry equipment in hand!

Erik is preparing for three months in Papua New Guinea to study White-shouldered Fairy Wrens, funded in part with a grant he won from the American Ornithologists Union. He will be returning to the existing field site in Milne Bay, and Jordan will join him for a couple of weeks of galavanting through PNG’s little-known Western Province.

Sam advanced to PhD candidacy, and recently got back from a trip to WSU doing hormone analysis with the Schwabl lab. She and Tulane students Nicole Moody, Alex Gulachenski, and Roxy Franta are gearing up to head down under for the summer for the third year of our NSF-funded IRES project in Australia. Congrats to both Nicole and Alex for receiving Newcomb grants to supplement the summer research!

The Karubian and Derryberry labs teamed up on outreach by doing a workshop with middle school girls as part of the Tulane Girls in Science and Technology program (GIST) and by volunteering with kindergarteners from Kipp NOLA primary.

Luke also advanced to PhD candidacy this past Spring! He’s leaving soon for a 6 month field excursion to Ecuador where he will continue his work on pollen and seed dispersal of Oenocarpus. He will be joined in the field by Tulane undergrads Malinda Chambers and John Bailey Cox, who were awarded Newcomb and Taylor grants, respectively. A few of some videos from last summer were featured on a nature documentary website here and here.

The lab also received new grants from the Conservation, Food and Health Foundation and Tulane’s Center for Latin American Studies for work on fragments in Ecuador, and produced one new publication on patterns of amphibian diversity in Ecuador (Jongsma et. al 2014)

Nathan Frumkin successfully completed his honors thesis on Northern Mockingbirds, and was awarded the Cagle Prize and the Honors Scholar Prize. We are thrilled that Nathan will be remaining in the lab next year for a 4 + 1 Masters, to continue work on mockingbirds. With collaborators Renata Duraes Ribeiro and Elizabeth Derryberry, the lab received a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation to study how Northern Mockingbirds in New Orleans may be impacted by environmental lead.

We are happy to welcome incoming PhD student Zoe Diaz-Martinez into the lab! She will be starting in the fall semester and will be working on the seed dispersal project in Ecuador.

Jordan is looking forward to spending some Q.T. with the fairy-wrens this summer. He will be visiting Sam and the IRES crew in Australia’s Northern Territory before dropping in on Erik in Papua New Guinea. He will be back in the US in time to attend the Animal Behavior Society meeting in August.

Last but definitely not least, a hearty congratulations to our collaborator and friend Monica Gonzalez, Director of FCAT, for winning the prestigious Whitley Prize for her conservation work in Ecuador. Be sure to check out the short film on her work narrated by Sir David Attenborough – congratulations Monica!

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