Welcome! Our lab explores how the environment that organisms experience shapes their ecological, behavioral, evolutionary, and conservation trajectories. We focus our research on animals, mainly birds, and plants in South America, Australasia, and the Gulf of Mexico, with active studies on plant-animal interactions, mating system 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 2018

Posted by on Mar 14, 2018 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2018

Spring has sprung, and the lab has some exciting news – two of our Ph.D. candidates, Erik Enbody and Brock Geary, are about to fledge!

Erik Enbody is preparing to defend his dissertation in March 2018 and, following his defense, he will begin a postdoctoral research position in Dr. Leif Andersson’s lab at Uppsala University in Sweden. Since the last update, Erik coauthored a meta-analysis on extra pair paternity rates across Malurus fairywrens that was recently published in Molecular Ecology (Brouwer et al. 2017), submitted a manuscript, and has been working through a mountain of genomics data on white-shouldered fairywrens.

Brock Geary will defend his dissertation in April 2018, and following his defense, he will begin a postdoctoral research position in Dr. Paul Leberg’s lab at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he will continue his work on the foraging ecology of brown pelicans in the Gulf. Since the last update, Brock has submitted a manuscript and worked through thousands of GPS locations to map brown pelican foraging ecology in the Gulf of Mexico.

Zoë Diaz-Martin had a productive fall semester teaching the ecology lab and making progress with lab work. She also continued a conservation oriented project that bolsters local conservation efforts in northwest Ecuador. She looks forward to traveling this semester to Dr. Paul Gugger’s lab at the University of Maryland to begin her genomic work of Oenocarpus bataua.

John Jones spent most of fall indoors, revamping his dissertation project to focus now on behavioral endocrinology and multimodal signals in female white shouldered fairywrens. He is preparing to head back to Papua New Guinea in April for another field season. He also published the last golden-winged warbler paper to come out of his master’s study population in Wilson Journal of Ornithology (Tisdale and Jones et al. 2018), as well as collaborative paper on migratory connectivity in PNAS (Kramer et al. 2018) .

Sarah Khalil spent the past semester developing her thesis ideas, focusing on the evolution and mechanisms of carotenoid-based sexual signals. She travelled back to Brisbane, Australia for a quick trip in November to collect some more samples during the breeding season, and also presented preliminary results from her 2017 field season at the meeting for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in January. She is preparing for her next field season to Australia in May to collect more data, as well as to lead the new cohort of NSF IRES undergraduate students.

Kaushik Narasimhan is on the verge of completing his first year in the PhD program at Tulane. He led a team of undergraduate students that gathered data on frugivory at palm trees from motion-activated camera traps, and is preparing for pilot fieldwork related to GPS tracking of umbrellabirds over the summer in Ecuador.

Jordan Karubian received a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation for research on how lead impacts mockingbird behavior, with collaborators Dr. Howard Mielke from the Tulane School of Medicine and Dr. Renata Ribeiro from Tulane’s Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. He has published new articles in Acta Oecologica (with lab alums Kym Ottewell and Luke Browne, Ottewell et al. 2017), Behavioural Processes (with lab alum Jenny Hazlehurst, in press), Journal of Tropical Ecology (with lab alums Scott Walter and Luke Browne, as well as members of our partner organization FCAT, Walter et al. 2017), Molecular Ecology (with Erik Enbody, Brouwer et al. 2017), and New Phytologist (with lab alum Luke Browne, accepted).

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Fall 2017

Posted by on Oct 5, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Fall 2017

Fall has only just begun here in New Orleans, yet the lab has been up to lots of exciting things in the last few months!

First of all, we want to congratulate Dr. Luke Browne and Dr. Samantha Lantz, both of whom finished their Ph.D.’s in May 2017. Luke received the ‘Top Thesis’ award in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and has gone on to a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA in the lab of Dr. Victoria Sork. Sam received Tulane University’s ’34 Award’, and is teaching at Cal State University Channel Islands and working in the private sector as an environmental consultant.

We are excited to welcome our newest Ph.D. student to the lab, Kaushik Narasimhan. Kaushik is funded from a Louisiana Board of Regents Fellowship. After helping lead our Tropical Ecology and Conservation class in Ecuador and finishing his Masters Thesis at Antioch University over the summer, Kaushik has been busy taking classes and preparing to go back to Ecuador next summer for his first field season. He is also spearheading a project to process and analyze several years worth of camera trap data from Ecuador.

Brock Geary, entering the fifth year of his Ph.D., has had quite a productive few months. He lined up a post-doctoral fellowship with Dr. Paul Leberg to continue his work on pelicans after his expected graduation in May 2018, and continued his fieldwork with brown pelicans this summer. He received multiple grants to support his work, including the AOS Research Award, the Louisiana Environmental Education Commission’s University Research Grant, the LA SeaGrant UROP and Tulane Newcomb Foundation grants. In addition, he presented on his work at the American Ornithological Society (AOS-SOC) in Michigan and had a paper accepted at PLoS ONE (Geary et al. 2017)! Congrats Brock!

Erik Enbody spent his summer indoors, at the lab bench at Tulane and in collaborator Scott Edward’s lab at Harvard creating libraries for his sequencing work on Papua New Guinea’s White-shouldered Fairy-wren, which is supported by his NSF doctoral dissertation improvement grant (DDIG). In August, he presented the results of his recent behavioral work on Malurus wrens at the AOS-SOC meeting in East Lansing, MI.

Zoë Diaz-Martin completed her field season in June, after traveling across Ecuador to collect the bulk of the samples she’ll need for her dissertation. Afterwards, she helped to teach Tulane’s Tropical Ecology and Conservation course in Ecuador. She was recently awarded the Mellon Mays Travel and Research grant and is currently back in New Orleans completing lab work and data analysis. She’s looking forward to traveling to Wales in November to participate in the PR Statistics Landscape Genetic Data Analysis workshop.

John Jones returned from Papua New Guinea and Australia after an extended field season this past summer. He presented the results of this pilot research at the AOS-COS meeting in August, and had a paper on eastern bluebird competition accepted for publication in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution (Albers et al. 2017).

Sarah Khalil spent her summer chasing both birds and undergrads in Australia. She led an incredible crew of 6 undergraduates through the NSF IRES program, where they conducted independent research on behavioral ecology in the red-backed fairywrens. Sarah spent most of her time in the field catching and collecting samples from the wrens, and is now analyzing her data back in New Orleans. She is excited to attend the conference for the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) in San Francisco this January to present her preliminary results from the season.

Jordan Karubian led the Tropical Field Biology and Conservation course along with co-instructors Dr. Renata Ribeiro and Dr. Luke Browne in Ecuador in May. During this two-week course 13 Tulane undergrads worked closely with our Ecuadorian colleagues from FCAT to gain first hand experience in research and conservation. He also had fun visiting Brazil over the summer. Jordan had four new articles accepted since the last update: two in PLoS One, one in Emu, and one in Journal of Insect Conservation.

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