Friends of the lab

Max Aliaga



Domingo Cabrerra

Domingo is a founding member of and the current director of FCAT and local resident of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve. His research focuses on plant ecology and taxonomy, seed dispersal, and reproductive phenology patterns of the palm species Oenocarpus bataua. He has published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals and has presented his work at international conferences in Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. He also participates actively in local environmental education and conservation efforts.


Murray Cooper

Murray is a wildlife photographer. He works principally in the neo-tropical rainforests, where his specialties are birds and micro-photography of the Tropical Andean countries, and he now has one of the most in-depth collection of high-quality, wild images of neo-tropical birds. Many of the images on this website were taken by Murray. For more information and to see more of his work, check out his website.


FCAT – Fundación para la Conservación de los Andes Tropicales

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Fundacion para la Conservacion de los Andes Tropicales, or FCAT for short, is a non-governmental organization based in Ecuador. FCAT, which is run by local residents from the Mache Chindul Reserve and executive director Margarita Baquero, is committed to achieving conservation by providing local residents with the information and technical capacity they need to make wise decisions about the future of their natural resources. We collaborate closely with Dr. Karubian and other researchers to ensure that our work is anchored by a sound scientific foundation. For more information, click here.


TMA – Third Millennium Alliance

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Third Millennium Alliance (TMA) is a conservation non-profit dedicated to conserving the last remnants of tropical forests in western Ecuador and empowering local communities to restore what has been lost. TMA’s flagship projects include the 1,500 acre Jama-Coaque Reserve, the Jama-Coaque Conservation Corridor, and El Observatorio de Aves Jama-Coaque — Ecuador’s first international bird observatory dedicated to long-term science, conservation, education and outreach. The organization works with a variety of stakeholders from international researchers and students to local governments and chocolate farmers in order to design and implement sustainable, science-driven conservation and reforestation programs. For more information, click here.


Nelson ‘Beto’ Gonzalez

Beto joined FCAT formally in 2015 and is a local resident of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve. His research focuses on nocturnal bird communities and plant ecology and reproductive phenology, with a focus on the palm Oenocarpus bataua. He has presented his work in Ecuador, including at the V Ecuadorian Ornithology Congress where he won an award for his poster on nocturnal birds in forest fragments. Beto is also contributing to environmental education and conservation at the local level.


Monica Gonzelez

Monica is a founding member and former director of Fundacion para la Conservacion de los Andes Tropicales (FCAT). Monica has worked extensively with local communities in northwestern Ecuador promoting local environmental education, sustainable farming practices, reforestation, community-based conservation, and eco-tourism. She has been awarded numerous prestigious international awards for her work, including the Whitley Fund for Nature Award and the National Geographic Buffet Award. Monica is currently studying for a MS degree, and continues to work closely with our lab on research and conservation work in Ecuador.


Tom Gillespie



Darryl Jones

Darryl is a professor at Griffith University. He combines the skills and perspectives of wildlife management, behavioral ecology and urban ecology in an attempt to understand how human activities affect wildlife and how wildlife and people interact. He has studied a wide range of species in the US, the Canadian arctic, Papua New Guinea, the UK as well as throughout Australia but maintains a long-term interest in megapodes (mound-building birds), corvids and koalas. Currently his projects centre on road ecology and the implications of wild bird feeding.


Paul Leberg

The application of theory from ecology, evolution, and population genetics to questions in wildlife management and conservation biology is of special interest to Paul. His work employs experimental approaches to gain understanding of interactions between genetic diversity, environmental variation, and population viability under natural conditions.  For more information, check out Paul’s website.


Doka Nason

Doka is a local community member in the Maramatama LLG of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea where he assists in managing a local team of researchers. Doka is an experienced bird bander and bushman who is dedicated to promoting environmental awareness and sustainable thinking in the community. Doka previously worked for a local AIDs awareness program.


Jorge Olivo

Jorge is a founding member of FCAT and local resident of the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve, northwest Ecuador. His research focuses on avian behavior and frugivory, as well as seed and pollen dispersal dynamics of Oenocarpus bataua and other palms. He has published in various peer-reviewed scientific journals and has presented his work at international conferences, including the V Ecuadorian Ornithology Congress where he received the ‘Best Student Presentation’ Award. He also participates actively in local environmental education and conservation efforts, as recognized by winning the ‘Local Conservation Hero’ Award from the Disney Conservation Fund.


Kym Ottewell

Kym is currently a fauna genetics research scientist at Department of Environment and Conservation in Western Australia and has worked previously at Tulane University in Louisiana, USA, and at the University of Adelaide and University of Wollongong in Australia. For more information, check out Kym’s website.


John Saltmarsh

John is the Co-Director of the New England Resource Center for Higher Education (NERCHE) at the University of Massachusetts, Boston as well as a faculty member in the Higher Education Administration Doctoral Program in the Department of Leadership in Education in the College of Education and Human Development. John’s website.


Hubert Schwabl

Professor Schwabl’s research is at the interface of behavioral biology, endocrinology, and evolutionary ecology. Specifically his lab is interested in the regulation of reproduction in relation to the social and physical environment. His current research focuses on female reproductive biology and the consequences of female reproductive decisions for the phenotype and the fitness of the offspring. Understanding the evolutionary significance of such maternal effects requires investigation of proximate regulatory mechanisms and of ultimate fitness consequences. For more information, check out Hubert’s website.


Thomas B. Smith

Dr. Thomas Smith is founder and Director of the Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (formerly Institute of the Environment), and is a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA. Dr. Smith oversees a host of research projects and directs the research of a large number of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers on projects based in tropical countries worldwide. A central focus of his research investigates how biodiversity is generated and maintained in tropical rainforests. For more information, check out his website.


Victoria Sork

Victoria’s research program examines evolutionary and ecological processes in tree populations. Gene flow and natural selection shape the genetic composition of populations that reflects evolutionary history and determines evolutionary response to future environmental change. For more information, check out Victoria’s website.


John Swaddle

The major question that has stimulated most of John’s research is centered on the role of environmental stressors in moderating ecological and evolutionary change—a question of growing importance as anthropogenic stressors on natural populations continue to increase. For more information about John and his students, check out John’s website.


Serena Timothy

Serena is an affiliate with Conservation International and a local resident of the Maramatama Local Level Government in Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. Serena is the leader of a group of four locally trained biologists who conduct research on the local birds and grassland ecosystem. Serena has developed and led environmental awareness programs throughout the province, co-led workshops for training local biologists, and is a prominent local leader in her community. Some of her recent work surveying women about environmental management practices was recently featured on the Conservation International blog.


Scott T. Walter

Through my research, teaching, and student mentoring I use a variety of animal taxa, particularly birds, to understand the effects of environmental change and habitat loss on ecosystem sustainability and wildlife population viability within the U.S. and Latin America. My central goal across studies is to obtain ecological information that can be used to inform societal decisions in environmental management. Please see my curriculum vitae (CV – January 2016) and feel free to contact me for additional information at


Mike Webster

Mike has studied sexual selection and the mating behavior of wild birds in North America, the New World tropics, and Australia. Mike and his students are particularly fascinated by “cryptic” reproductive behaviors such as extra-pair copulations and brood parasitism, and also by the evolutionary causes and consequences of elaborate sexual signals. For more information, check out Mike’s website.


Our research and conservation work is made possible by grants from the following sources:

A Studio in the Woods Flint & Steel artist/faculty collaboration
American Museum of Natural History
American Ornithologist’s Union
Animal Behavior Society
Audubon Society
Chicago Zoological Society
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
Conservation, Food & Health Foundation
Conservation, Research, and Educational Opportunities International
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund*
Fulbright Fellowship Program
Lawrence Foundation
Louisiana Board of Regents
Louisiana Sea Grant
Morris Animal Foundation
National Geographic Society
National Science Foundation*
Neotropical Bird Club
Ornithological Council
Tulane University
United States Fish & Wildlife Service*
United States Geological Survey
University of California, Los Angeles
Wildlife Conservation Society

*indicates support above $100,000