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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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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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Spring 2016

Posted by on Oct 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2016

Spring has come yet again, which means a few things here in New Orleans – Jazz Fest and Karubian lab website updates!

Huge congrats to Jenny Hazlehurst for defending her dissertation and publishing one of her chapters – Nectar robbing impacts pollinator behavior but not plant reproduction – in Oikos (Hazlehurst and Karubian 2016)! Jenny is now continuing on as a post-doc at UC Davis.

Sam Lantz and Jordan published the first chapter of Sam’s thesis in Auk (Lantz and Karubian 2016), focusing on adventitious molt in fairywrens. This paper was highlighted on the Audubon blog. In the summer she headed back to Australia to lead the NSF IRES crew.

Luke Browne along with Ecuadorian colleagues and Jordan, traveled to Colombia for the World Palm Symposium to present work on the effects of habitat loss on palm tree diversity in Ecuador. He spent the rest of the summer completing another field season in Ecuador. While spending the fall and spring semesters in Washington DC / College Park, Maryland, he presented on conservation and research in the Chocó rainforests of Ecuador to the AAAS Biodiversity Affinity group in Washington DC.

Erik Enbody advanced to candidacy in the fall and received grants from the National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant, Animal Behavior Society, and the Tulane Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to continue his field work on white-shouldered fairy wrens in Papua New Guinea, where he spent his spring semester. Check out his blog from the field for more details and cool pictures!

Brock Geary advanced to candidacy in February and was awarded the Tulane Gunning Memorial Student Research Award, as well as winning a grant from the AOU to study brown pelican foraging behavior. He presented at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Research Symposium and published 2 papers from his masters work: Movements and survival of juvenile reddish egrets Egretta rufescens on the Gulf of Mexico coast (Geary et al. 2015) and Measurements of Adult and Hatch-year Reddish Egrets (Kozcur etal. 2015).

Zoë Díaz-Martin received the Lewis and Clark Award for Field Exploration to do field research in Ecuador. She finished her coursework and decided on a dissertation topic, which includes studying patterns and drivers of genetic variation and differentiation in populations of Oenocarpus bataua on a landscape scale. This summer she will be staying on campus to complete a pilot study.

Meredith Williams and Emma Saltzberg received a grant from the Newcomb College Institute and Newcomb-Tulane College to study the northern Mockingbird in New Orleans with visiting MS student Stephanie McClelland.

Jordan, former post-doc Kym, and colleagues published a new paper on the genetic consequences of seed dispersal to sleeping trees by white-bellied spider monkeys (Karubian et al. 2015). Jordan and Sam Lantz also published original research on flamingos in the journal Zoo Biology with lead authorship by Nathan Frumkin, a former Tulane undergrad and 4+1 student. Nathan gathered the data for this article while taking the course ‘Experimental Animal Behavior’ at Tulane.

The Lab received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s ‘Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act’ to purchase rainforest habitat in northwest Ecuador together with our in-country partners FCAT.

We are also very happy to welcome Sarah Khalil and John Jones as new PhD students to the lab, who will be starting in Fall 2016!

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Spring 2015

Posted by on Jul 11, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Spring 2015

Another academic year has come and gone, and the lab is spread far and wide for the annual summer diaspora. Lab members are conducting research in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and points beyond while others continue their research closer to home in the city of New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico’s barrier islands. Since the last update, the lab received 2 NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (DDIG), 1 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF), and been recommended for 1 NSF International Research Experience for Students (IRES) grant and 1 NSF EAGER grant. We have published papers in Heredity (Browne et al. 2015), Journal of Avian Biology (Durães Ribeiro et al. 2015), and Journal of Field Ornithology (Walter et al. 2014). Details are as follows:

Jordan and family are heading to Ecuador in May to teach EBIO 3780 ’Tropical Field Biology & Conservation’, a field course in Ecuador. Jordan will be presenting at the PALMS conference in Montenegro Colombia in June, and the Ecological Society of America conference in Baltimore MD in August.

Jenny received an NSF DDIG to expand her work in nectar robbery and hummingbird pollination and an EEB Departmental Fellowship to help with writing up in the Fall. This summer, she will be radio tracking hummingbirds in Peru.

Sam received the 2014/15 Best Teaching Assistant award for Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology as well as the prestigious Tulane Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship in the School of Science & Engineering for the 2015/16 year. She will be in Australia this summer, gathering data on fairy-wren condition and habitat use outside Brisbane.

Luke, former post-doc Kym Ottewell, and Jordan published the paper ‘The short-term genetic consequences of habitat loss and fragmentation for the neotropical palm Oenocarpus bataua’ in Heredity (Browne et al. 2015). Luke was also awarded DDIG funding from the NSF to continue work on the impacts of habitat fragmentation on gene flow in the Oenocarpus system. He will be helping to teach EBIO 3780, presenting at the PALMS conference in Montenegro Colombia in June, and conducting research in Ecuador and in the lab this summer.

Erik received a grant from the American Museum of Natural History for his work on the evolution of sexual dimorphism in white-shouldered fairy-wrens, and presented a poster at the American Ornithologists Union (AOU) on his work. He is heading to Papua New Guinea for another field season.

Brock received grants from the Animal Behavior Society, the Wilson Ornithological Society, and the Louisiana Sea Grant for his research on brown pelican foraging ecology, and also presented a poster at AOU. He will be tracking GPS-equipped pelicans in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.

Zoe completed her first year of graduate school in high style, and received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to boot! She will be helping to teach EBIO 3780, participating in an OTS course in Costa Rica, and conducting pilot field research in Ecuador this summer.

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