Lab members



Jordan Karubian


CV February 2018 | Google Scholar Profile

Phone: (504) 865-5549

Office: Israel 306

Mail: 6823 Saint Charles Avenue
         Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
         400 Lindy Boggs Center
         New Orleans, LA 70118-5698



Graduate Students


Brock Geary, Ph.D. Candidate



My current research examines relationships between brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) foraging behavior and fluctuating resource distributions in the Gulf of Mexico. Behavioral plasticity in foraging individuals may be necessary to adequately provision young, as availability of gulf menhaden, the pelican’s primary prey species, is highly variable across time and space during the breeding season. My primary field work uses biologging and individual-based modeling to determine how changing environments may influence the behavior of foraging birds, and how this interaction between environment and behavior impacts breeding success. In addition to its broader ecological implications, this work will also provide demographic forecasts for an important pelican colony under real and hypothetical scenarios, contributing to seabird conservation efforts throughout the northern Gulf of Mexico.


Erik Enbody, Ph.D. Candidate



For my dissertation, I am interested in the evolution of elaborate ornamentation in female Malurus fairywrens. I study the White-shouldered Fairywren (Malurus alboscapulatus), a species that exhibits variable degree of ornamentation between populations in New Guinea, with no corresponding changes to male coloration. Find out more about the work being done there by visitng the blog. Previously, I conducted my undergraduate thesis studying predation of Flammulated Owls in Dr. Brian Linkhart’s lab at Colorado College and have worked on a variety of projects in the tropics and American West.


Zoe Diaz-Martin, Ph.D. Candidate


My research focuses on how gene flow and local adaptation act in concert to shape the distribution of genetic diversity and the evolutionary potential of Oenocarpus bataua. I will use microsatellite data and next generation sequencing/SNP data to investigate the mechanisms that promote gene flow within a population, examine how geographic and environmental variables drive genetic divergence between populations, and identify loci that are putatively under selection by environmental and climatic variables.


Sarah Khalil, Ph.D. Student


I am interested in exploring what controls variation in carotenoid-based plumage of red-backed fairywrens (Malarus melanocephalus) within and between populations. I am interested in using genomic techniques to study the evolution of visual sexual signals in fairy-wrens. Previously, I studied breeding behavior of superb starlings in Kenya through Dr. Rubenstein’s lab at Columbia University.


John Jones, Ph.D. Student



I am interested in behavioural ecology, competition, and communication (via birdsong and coloration). My current research focuses on how variation in ecological resources and social structure drives the evolution of female ornamentation of white-shouldered fairywrens. I will also look at closely-related bicolored fairywrens to determine the selective pressures driving the variation in social structure and coloration between fairywrens in Australia and Papua New Guinea. My previous research at Appalachian State University focused on chestnut-sided and golden-winged warbler interspecific aggression and misidentification.


Kaushik Narasimhan, Ph.D. Student


I am interested in monitoring and understanding the interactions between larger seed dispersers and the tropical palms they feed from. I want to use a combination of camera traps, radio telemetry, GPS, and other methods to track movement and gather behavioral data. For my Masters, I studied the community ecology of bats in the Peruvian Amazon in Dr. Liz Willey’s lab at Antioch University.




Margaux Armfield, IRES fellow

I’m a sophomore at Tulane University studying Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and Computer Science. In addition to the IRES fellowship program, I am involved in The Hullabaloo (Tulane’s student newspaper) and the club tennis team, and I enjoy painting and roller blading in my free time. After college, I hope to attend graduate school to study evolutionary biology or genetics. Ultimately, I would love to work for a wildlife conservation organization. I am excited to learn more about conducting evolutionary biology and ecology research through the IRES program.


Nathalie Clarke, IRES fellow

I was born in Philadelphia, raised in both Paris and Narbonne, France, and now attend Tulane University. I am pursuing a double major in Environmental Biology (EBIO) and Anthropology. In addition to course work, I currently tutors French and hold lab assistant positions in the EBIO department and work at the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South. I am interested in community ecology, behavioral ecology, and tri-trophic symbioses. I plan on studying red-backed fairywren auxiliary males responses to predation risk over the course of the non-breeding season, and how molt date influences behavior.


Trey Hendrix, Honors Thesis

I am a senior studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. I am interested in the nonbreeding season behavioral ecology of red-backed fairywrens. During the summer of 2016, I participated in the IRES program, and I will be writing an honors thesis about my project.


Lauren Hitt, Honors Thesis

I am a junior double-majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Classical Studies. As a 2017 IRES fellow, I studied the behavioral patterns of male red-backed fairywrens. Now, I study the effects of lead exposure on reproductive success and cuckoldry rates in urban northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos). I will write an honors thesis on the results of this work.


Samuel Leberg, Honors Thesis

I am a senior studying Ecology and Evolutionary biology. I stduy tropical freshwater fish communities and how communities shift with varying levels of human disturbance. This past summer I went to Ecuador to study these effects in an appropriate setting. I am writing an Honors Thesis on the results of this work.


Elliot Hill, Honors Thesis

I am interested in collective animal behavior, scientific methodology, and statistical analysis. I am currently studying characteristics of social structure (such as dominance hierarchies) in American Flamingos (Phoenicopterus ruber) through social network analysis.


Kiersten Rankel, Independent Study

I am a senior undergraduate student majoring in environmental biology with a minor in marine biology. I am conducting an independent study on the urban songbirds of New Orleans, and whether lead levels in their bodies correlates with their foraging strategies. This study will give us some insight as to the ways lead is bioaccumulating in urban ecosystems.


Lab affiliates


Erik Iverson

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I am a former Tulane undergraduate and master’s student in the Karubian Lab. For my master’s work I reviewed the signaling function of avian bare parts and how this differs from signaling with plumage. After completing my master’s in 2016, I surveyed streams for the Bureau of Land Management in Colorado and interned in agro-ecology with Archbold Biological Station. I was most recently the Academic Programs Coordinator for the Alliance for a Sustainable Amazon in Puerto Maldonado, Peru. I am now the Lead Technician for the Karubian lab’s efforts to study the effects of lead exposure on the behavior of urban mockingbirds.


Madeline Corcoran

I am a Junior student pursuing a dual degree in psychology and dance. I am also hoping to obtain my teacher certification and I am currently student teaching kindergarten at Audubon Charter School. In the lab, I am managing the accounting by organizing expenses and grants so as to minimize the amount of accounting work required of other members of the lab, allowing for more effective use of their research skills.


Tadeo Ramirez Prada

Originally from Santiago, Chile, I am a Senior double-majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Mathematics intending to pursue a PhD in Ecology/Evolutionary Biology/Mathematical Biology after graduation. I am writing my Honors Thesis on the effects of neighborhood structure on the reproductive phenology of the “mil pesos” palm, Oenocarpus bataua, under Dr. Karubian’s supervision. I aim to elucidate potential ecological drivers of the poorly understood asynchronous reproductive cycle of this species. Particularly, whether the reproductive stages of other members of the population (neighbors or relatives) affect the likelihood of individual trees entering the next phase of their reproductive cycle.


Lorena Torres Martinez, Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow

I am a plant ecologist and evolutionary biologist that is interested in studying the evolutionary potential of plant species to respond to projected climate change conditions. Specifically, I seek to understand how gene flow can shape the main source for adaptive potential to occur in response to new environmental conditions: the amount and distribution of genetic variation throughout species ranges. Currently, I am the Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary biology at Tulane University, in which I am designing and teaching two courses per year for graduate and senior undergraduate students -Plant Biology and adaptation (Fall semester) and Genomics and bioinformatics (Spring semester). In the Jordan Lab, I am working in collaboration with the PhD candidates Luke Brown and Zoe Diaz in understanding the fine-scale genetic structure of Oeonocarpus bataua, a native palm species to the tropical rainforest.


Olivia and Joaquin Karubian, Field operations

Olivia has a strong interest in fairy x princess reaction norms, and candy. Joaquin’s research focuses on dirt.


Lab Alumni



Ph.D. Students and Postdocs

Luke Brown (Ph.D., 2011-2017)
Samantha Lantz (Ph.D., 2011-2017)
Jenny Hazelhurst (Ph.D., 2010-2016)
Scott Walter (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2012-2014)
Kym Ottewell (Postdoctoral Fellow, 2010-2012)


Master’s Students

Emily Nonamaker (4+1 MS, 2016 – 2017)
Meredith Williams (4+1 MS, 2016 – 2017)
Nicole Moody (4+1 MS, 2014 – 2016)
Erik Iverson (4+1 MS, 2015 – 2016)
Roxanne Franta (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Malinda Chambers (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Nathan Frumkin (4+1 MS, 2014-15)
Roxanne Franta (4+1 MS, 2013-14)
Tessa Roorda (MS, 2010 – 2011)


Undergraduate Students

Toni Brown (NSF IRES fellow, 2017)
Darcy Gray (NSF IRES fellow, 2016)
Emma Saltzberg (Honors Thesis, 2016)
Michael Mahoney (Honors Thesis, 2016)
Miles Dawkins (Independent Study, 2016)
Erik Iverson (Honors Thesis, 2015)
Alex Gulachenski (NSF IRES fellow, 2014)
Nathan Frumkin (Honors Thesis, 2014)
Mitch Hinton (Honors Thesis, 2013)
Johnny Blanchard (Honors Thesis, 2013)
Kathleen Riley (NSF IRES fellow, 2012)