CTR Field Research Trips
Tony Chasar traveled to Cameroon in August and September of 2011 to conduct fieldwork on a project to track long-distance movements of hornbills near the Dja Faunal Reserve. He was assisted by Francis Alemanji Forzi, a Cameroonian member of the CTR research team. The trip focused on capturing White-thighed and Black-casqued hornbills in order to attach Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite tracking units. Aerial mist nets were used high up in the forest canopy in an attempt to capture these elusive birds. During this time, one White-thighed hornbill was captured and a satellite tracking unit was attached to the bird. In addition, as part of CTR’s avian influenza surveillance project, they surveyed one site in the Central Region near the Douala-Edea Faunal Reserve and were able to capture and sample 84 wild birds for avian influenza.
Emily Curd conducted field research at the Sedgwick Reserve in Santa Ynez, California in May and June of 2011. The 5,896-acre reserve is part of the University of California Natural Reserve System and is administered through the University of California, Santa Barbara. Emily collected soil samples for her dissertation project that examines the relationship between microbial community structure and enzyme activity in organic carbon storage in soils. The reserve is particularly well-suited to her study because it contains soils that are relatively homogenous and supports vegetation types with very different soil carbon contributions, including grassland, coastal sage scrub, and oak woodland.
Kaitlin Kelly-Reif, who received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science at UCLA in 2010, traveled to Cameroon in September 2011 to serve as the Facility Manager for the IRTC through June 2012. Since her arrival two months ago, more than twenty researchers from the U.S., England, China, France, and the Czech Republic have stayed at the facility, including a Fulbright scholar, veterinary students, ornithologists, and the president of Global Green Carbon. In early October, she helped CTR Director Tom Smith organize a tour for a delegation from UCLA and the University of Oregon. In addition to her duties as IRTC manager, Kaitlin teaches Environmental Science to secondary students at the International Bilingual Academy of Yaoundé, a partner organization of the IRTC that is developing a bachelor’s program in sustainable agroforestry. She is also collaborating with epidemiologists at Centre Pasteur and will begin fieldwork in January 2012 investigating the environmental risk factors of the Buruli ulcer, a tropical disease caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans infection. Currently, Kaitlin is working on developing a laboratory space and a workshop center within the IRTC facility, in preparation for National Institutes of Health-Fogarty International Center workshops that will be hosted at the IRTC in March 2012. The IRTC recently launched its newly-designed website at www.irtc.ucla.edu.
Brenda Larison travelled to Nairobi, Kenya, for two weeks in June 2011 as part of her investigation of the population genetics of the endangered Grevy’s zebra. She conducted testing of samples in the lab of Dr. Elijah Githui, at the National Museum of Kenya, and at the International Livestock Research Institute, along with Dennis Odhiambo, a student who is working on the project as part of his master’s degree studies at the University of Nairobi. From late September through October, she returned to the field to collect samples for her project investigating the underlying genetic origins of zebra stripe variation. She spent four weeks in the Western Cape of South Africa collecting samples and one week in Etosha National Park. In South Africa, she was assisted by the Quagga Project as well as local assistants Ross Cowlin, a graduate of the University of Cape Town, and Anzio Abels, a graduate of the University of the Western Cape. Hanna Linstadt, a recent UCLA graduate, joined her in both South Africa and Etosha. She was also joined in Etosha by Ilonka von Lippke, a CTR Senior Research Fellow, and her daughter Olivia, a budding biologist.
Claire Loiseau and Ravinder Sehgal, CTR affiliates from San Francisco State University, traveled to Alaska in June and July of 2011. Claire’s research focuses on how global climate change will affect the transmission of malaria in birds. The team collected mosquitoes and blood samples from many species of birds, both residents and migrants. They began in Anchorage and continued north, past the Arctic Circle, to Coldfoot. Claire’s results show that avian malaria is transmitted locally in Alaska, but not north of 64°N. With increasing temperatures in Alaska, the concern is that malaria will spread northward, and affect sensitive bird populations. They are also working with the Alaska Bird Observatory, the U.S. Geological Survey, and with CTR postdoctoral scholar Ryan Harrigan. The work will form the basis for a long-term study to determine how climate change will affect disease transmission in the Arctic.
Claire Loiseau travelled to Cameroon in early November 2011 as part of the field crew for CTR’s avian influenza project, working with CTR Africa Director Kevin Njabo in Dschang, in the West of Cameroon, to collect samples from wild birds and domestic poultry. This study is part of a multi-country collaborative effort funded by the National Institutes of Health-Fogarty International Center to examine spillover and transmission of avian influenza between wild birds, domestic poultry, swine, and humans. Later in November, she and Francis Alemanji Forzi will visit another sampling site in Mbalmayo, south of Yaoundé. In December, Claire, Francis, and Tony Chasar will travel to the Central African Republic where they will be sampling in Bayanga, the administrative seat of the Reserve of Dzanga Sangha, and in small villages in the vicinity of Bayanga. In the Bayanga region, the population greatly increased in the 1970s, which resulted in an increase in the numbers of domestic poultry. This development has increased the potential for interactions between wild birds and poultry, thus increasing the possibility of transmission of influenza. As a result, CTR is expanding its geographic monitoring program of H5N1 influenza surveillance to new countries of the Congo Basin such as the Central African Republic.
Hilton Oyamaguchi returned to Brazil in October 2011 for four months of fieldwork to complete his dissertation research. He is testing the heritability of variations in frog populations along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and the Cerrado (tropical savanna). He received two significant donations for his field studies from Susan and Dan Gottlieb, owners of the G2 Art Gallery in Venice Beach, California.
Raul Sedano travelled to Colombia and Peru in November 2011. He will attend a meeting in Peru and spend a month in the field in Colombia as part of his dissertation research focused on studying evolutionary processes in Neotropical birds in the Northern Andes.
Marisa Tellez traveled to Florida and Louisiana in the summer of 2011 to analyze how environmental and anthropogenic impacts are effecting parasitism in the American Alligator. An interesting finding was that Florida alligators had no intestinal parasites compared to Louisiana alligators. In addition, the amount of parasites and the species of parasites in Louisiana alligators appear to be significantly different than what was found during the previous two years. Tissue samples of alligators and parasites will be analyzed for heavy metal correlation to the alteration of parasitism.
CTR Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Awards, Presentations, and Appointments
Janice Chan, an undergraduate student working with CTR postdoctoral scholars Trevon Fuller and Henri Thomassen, received the 2011 Undergraduate Research Award from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Janice carried out research in bioinformatics on a volunteer basis at CTR for three years. Her work on computational aspects of conservation biology contributed to a manuscript entitled “Mapping evolutionary process: a multi-taxa approach to conservation prioritization,” that was published in Evolutionary Applications. She was also responsible for the computational analysis for a research project that used Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, and optimization to design an optimal set of “reserves” for Ecuador, which is a global hotspot of biodiversity. Janice is currently a graduate student in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.
Trevon Fuller attended a symposium entitled “Animal Migration,” sponsored by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the Wenner-Gren Foundations at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences, from June 8-11, 2011 in Fiskebäckskil, Sweden. Trevon gave a presentation entitled “Combining molecular genetic and isotopic markers to elucidate patterns of migratory connectivity and disease transmission.” The symposium was attended by 62 biologists from ten countries who study animal movement.
Rachel Johnston received a Research Award from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in June 2011. She used the award to perform next generation sequencing to study genes expressed during migration in Swainson's thrushes.
Kevin Njabo was an invited speaker at the Cameroon Professional Society (CPS) 2011 Distinguished Annual Congress on Cameroon: Collective Efforts Towards Sustainable Development, held July 29-31, 2011, in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He participated in a panel on “Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Cameroon.” He also gave a presentation at the International Meeting on Malaria and Related Haemosporidian Parasites of Wildlife, held August 5-7, 2011, in West Virginia, sponsored by the National Science Foundation Research Coordination Network for Haemosporida of Terrestrial Vertebrates. He spoke on “Feeding habits of Cameroon lowland forest mosquitoes based on stable isotopes and blood meal analyses.” Kevin was also the lead author of a paper on the discovery of H1N1 flu virus in swine in Cameroon published in Veterinary Microbiology, entitled “Pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus in swine, Cameroon, 2010.” The UCLA news release about the study was published in more than 24 online media outlets across the country in September 2011.
Hilton Oyamaguchi was awarded a Dissertation Year Fellowship in May 2011 from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to complete his study of the role that ecotones play in speciation and divergence in frogs in the transition zone between the Cerrado and the Amazon rainforest in Brazil.
Raul Sedano received a travel award from the Neotropical Ornithological Society to give a presentation at the IX Neotropical Ornithology Congress and VIII Peruvian Ornithology Congress in Cusco, Peru, held from November 8-14, 2011. He will give a presentation on “The evolution of body size in tanagers and their allies, and the role of altitudinal gradients in the tropical Andes,” a part of his dissertation research.
Marisa Tellez attended the 86th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Parasitologists, held June 1-4, 2011 in Anchorage, Alaska, and presented a talk on part of her dissertation project, entitled “Anthropogenic and environmental effects on helminth parasitism in the American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis.” She also presented this project at the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists (ASIH) in Minnesota in July 2011. Marisa presented a poster on a side project, entitled, “Acanthocephalan parasitism of the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake, Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus” at ASIH, and at the Biology of the Rattlesnake Symposium in Tucson, Arizona at the end of July.
Allison Alvarado received her Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Spring 2011. Her thesis was on “Evolutionary dynamics across a migratory divide: Testing the causes and consequences of divergence in hermit thrushes (Catharus guttatus).”
Ali Hamilton, a former postdoctoral scholar in the laboratory of Paul Barber, began a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in the laboratory of Kevin de Queiroz.
CTR would like to thank Susan and Dan Gottlieb, owners of the G2 Gallery in Venice California, for their donations to Hilton Oyamaguchi's field research in Brazil. We would also like to thank Lee Cooper for his contribution to the International Research and Training Center in Cameroon.
CTR has recently partnered with the National Park Service Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and the Ventura branch of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate how climate change will impact the biological diversity within southern California protected areas. This work is being conducted under the recently organized California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC), a management-science partnership that seeks to better link quality science with sound policy and management decisions. For more information on this and other projects by the CA LCC, go to: http://californialcc.org. CTR Postdoctoral Scholar Ryan Harrigan and Katy Semple Delaney, National Park Service Ecologist, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, are coordinating this project.
- UCLA Academic Senate Council on Research Faculty Grants Program. Using Next Generation Genetic Sequencing to Link the Breeding, Wintering, and Migration Areas of North American Songbirds. (2011-2012)
- California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (CA LCC). Maximizing Evolutionary Potential under Climate Change in Southern California Protected Areas. (2011-2013)
Avian Influenza Project Update
Kevin Njabo and Tony Chasar led field research teams in Cameroon during the Fall of 2010 to sample wild birds, domestic poultry, and swine as part of a multi-country collaborative effort to examine spillover and transmission of avian influenza. They also carried out observational studies and surveyed people to quantify the interactions between wild birds, domestic poultry, swine, and humans. Kevin’s team, which visited the northern and central regions of the country, collected more than 800 samples.
Tony Chasar, along with research team members Claire Loiseau and Francis Alemanji Forzi, successfully conducted surveillance in Ndibi, Cameroon, in the central region, and in Essiengbot, near the Dja Faunal Reserve, in the eastern region. A total of 402 samples were collected from a wide range of wild and domestic birds. In addition, Tony’s field team traveled to the Republic of Congo in December 2010 to carry out the first sampling for avian influenza in wild birds to be conducted in that country. Working in collaboration with the Republic of Congo’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Technical Innovation, they carried out sampling at three sites. A total of 416 samples were collected in Lefini, in the Pool Department, in Epena, in the Likouala Department, and inside the Conkouati-Douli National Park in the Kouilou Department, which is situated along the coastal region near the border with Gabon.
Tony plans to begin surveillance sampling in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2011. Kevin and Tony will return to Cameroon in Fall 2011 to conduct additional surveys. They also plan to return to Egypt in June 2011. They carried out the first stage of influenza sampling in Egypt between April and June of 2010.
At the CTR laboratory at UCLA, staff researchers Erin Toffelmier and Sallie Chin have been analyzing the avian influenza cloacal samples that have been collected to determine the prevalence of the virus in wild birds and domestic poultry at each sampling site, and to assess which species are most likely to carry the virus. They have processed more than 1,600 inactivated samples collected in Cameroon, the Republic of Congo, and Egypt, while 1,600 paired culturable samples are being processed by Centre Pasteur in Cameroon and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Senior Research Fellow Brenda Larison is spearheading our efforts to analyze how human and animal behaviors affect disease transmission at the interface between wild birds, domestic animals, and humans. Many undergraduate volunteer researchers are assisting with data entry and testing for these projects while receiving valuable training. These multi-country studies are being carried out in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health-Fogarty International Center and the Center for Influenza Research and Surveillance at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health-National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
CTR Field Research Trips
Hilton Oyamaguchi spent two months in Brazil during Fall 2010 collecting 300 samples of his target frog species Dendropsophus minutus from the transition zone between the Cerrado and the Amazon rainforest. His project is the first to examine the role that ecotones play in speciation and divergence in frogs in the Cerrado. His fieldwork was funded by the California Academy of Science and the UCLA Latin American Institute. CTR Director Tom Smith traveled to Brazil for two weeks in November 2010 to collect frogs with Hilton and his collaborators, Dr. Christiane Strussmann and Andre Pansonato, from the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso.
Raul Sedano conducted fieldwork in the Andean region of Colombia from October through December 2010, visiting three field stations in Risaralda, Valle, and Nariño along the Western Cordillera (mountain range). One of the most intense rainy seasons in the past 100 years made fieldwork and locating his target species particularly challenging. While in Colombia, he met with young scientists in the countryside who were collecting data on birds in the páramos (highlands), the cloud forests, and from the Pacific Coast. He also attended the III Congreso Colombiano de Ornitologia (III Colombian Ornithological Congress) in Medellin from November 21-26, 2010, held in conjunction with the III Congreso Colombiano de Zoologia (III Colombian Congress of Zoology), where he presented a talk on “The role of altitudinal gradients in the evolutionary dynamics of avian body size in the Tropical Andes.”
Marisa Tellez traveled to southern Mexico for 10 days in January 2011 to investigate stomach nematodes of Crocodylus acutus, C. moreletii, and Caiman crocodilus chiapsius. She sampled 30 crocodilians at four different sites. Marisa recorded the first parasite in Ca. crocodilus, and possibly discovered two new species of parasites. This research project, in collaboration with Dr. Mark Merchant from McNeese State University, is investigating the correlation of parasitism to alligator immune response, as well as evaluating the correlation of host toxin levels to parasite abundance. Higher parasite abundance was found in crocodilians closer to urban areas, but further analysis needs to be conducted.
Pamela Thompson began a nine-month field stay in the Chamela-Cuixmala region of Jalisco, Mexico, in January 2011. She is studying the flowering phenology, bat pollinator visitation patterns, and gene flow in a tropical tree species called Crescentia alata. Her field stay is funded by a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Fellowship, whose mission is to promote mutual understanding between Mexico and the United States through educational and cultural exchanges.
CTR Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Scholar Awards, Presentations, and Appointments
Emily Curd received a Systems and Integrative Biology Training Grant in Integrative Biology and Mathematics for 2011-2012 that will provide training in mathematical modeling for her dissertation project on soil microbial community ecology. This National Institutes of Health/National Institute of General Medical Science training grant is administered by the UCLA Department of Biomathematics.
Ana Paula Giorgi received a grant from the Society of Women Geographers to attend their 2011 triennial on Local and Global Sustainability from May 18-22, 2011 in Boulder, Colorado.
Ryan Harrigan has been working with vector control agencies in various southern California counties to understand and predict where infectious diseases, primarily those that are transmitted by mosquitos and migratory birds, are likely to occur. He attended the American Mosquito Control Association meeting in Anaheim, California, held March 20-24, 2011, where he gave three presentations on ongoing CTR projects: "Modeling West Nile virus under present and future climate conditions,” "Economy as a predictor of West Nile virus," and "Avian malaria in a changing world."
Brenda Larison was awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society’s Committee on Research and Exploration in May 2011 for her project, “How the zebra changed its stripes: the evolution of stripe variation in the plains zebra.”
Kevin Njabo was elected as a Member-at-Large to the Board of Directors of the Africa Section of the Society for Conservation Biology in January 2011. He was also appointed as an Assistant Researcher at the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability in February 2011 after working as a Postdoctoral Scholar at CTR since January 2007. Since August 2010, he has served as Africa Director and Associate Director for CTR.
Kevin Njabo and Adam Freedman have been invited to participate in the U.S.-Gabon Workshop 2011, “Evolution and Conservation of Central African Biological Diversity: New Approaches and Avenues for International Collaboration,” sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the University of New Orleans, the State University of New York at Albany, and the Université des Sciences et Techniques de Masuku. The main goal of the workshop, to be held in Franceville, Gabon, from May 21-28, is to provide a forum for collaborative exchange between key U.S. and foreign scientists actively engaged in research on the evolution of biological diversity in the equatorial rainforests of Central Africa. Kevin will lead the working group on evolutionary epidemiology and Adam will participate in the working group on comparative phylogeography and landscape genetics.
Kristen Ruegg was recently appointed to the position of Research Scientist with the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She will continue her collaborative work as a Senior Research Fellow at CTR, where she has been implementing cutting edge genetic techniques to help CTR researchers better understand patterns of migratory connectivity in Neotropical migratory songbirds.
Marisa Tellezattended the 1st International Workshop on Symbiotic Copepoda, held at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, California from December 4-8, 2010. She presented part of her dissertation project, entitled “Host-parasite distribution patterns of Alligator mississippiensis in Louisiana.” She also presented a poster, “Acanthocephalan parasitism of the southwestern speckled rattlesnake, Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus.”
Pamela Thompson presented a talk entitled “Preliminary analysis of pollen flow in continuous and fragmented populations of Crescentia alata” at the Congreso Mexicano de Ecología III (III Mexican Congress of Ecology), held in Boca del Rio, Veracruz, Mexico, from April 3-7, 2011. The conference, hosted by the Mexican Scientific Society of Ecology (SCME), included 1,400 symposia, talks, and posters.
Zachary Sun, a student in the M.D./Ph.D. program between UCLA and the California Institute of Technology, has been awarded a One Health Student Summer Research Fellowship from the University of California Global Health Institute for his proposal, “Investigating Influenza-A cross-species spillover dynamics in Cameroon.” He will work with CTR Africa Director Kevin Njabo and CTR researcher Anthony Chasar as part of our avian influenza study team in Cameroon and will be mentored by CTR Director Tom Smith.
CTR Postdoctoral Scholar Henri Thomassen began a new position April 1, 2011 as Assistant Professor/Researcher in the Department of Comparative Zoology, Institute of Evolution and Ecology, at the University of Tübingen in Germany. He will continue his affiliation with CTR as a Senior Research Fellow and will be involved in various collaborative projects.
CTR would like to thank Dan and Susan Gottlieb, owners of the G2 Gallery in Venice, California, for sponsoring a reception, presentation, and discussion at the gallery on April 27, 2011 with CTR Director Tom Smith, who spoke on “Conserving Rainforests and Helping the People of the Congo Basin.” We would also like to thank Friends of CTR members Lee Cooper and Margery Nicolson for co-hosting the event. The program was organized by the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability to support ongoing efforts by CTR to build the UCLA International Research and Training Center in Cameroon. The event was covered by CNE-TV and can be viewed online. Part 1 covers highlights of the program and part 2 features interviews with Tom Smith and Kevin Njabo.
- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee. Animal Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Africa. (2010-2011)
Allison Alvarado conducted field research in British Columbia, Canada, for five weeks in June and July 2010, where she traveled from islands off the coast to the Rocky Mountains. She recaptured five Hermit Thrushes that carried geolocator data loggers that she had attached to them last summer. Geolocators, which determine latitude and longitude through changes in light levels over space and time, weigh only one gram and can be used to track long-distance movements on very small animals. The data from the loggers will reveal details about the pattern and timing of migration for these passerines.
Emily Curd conducted eight weeks of soil sampling fieldwork in July and August 2010 for her dissertation project examining the determinants of soil microbial community assembly, specifically the role of carbon availability and soil pH (acidity or basicity) on community heterogeneity. She collected samples in 38 locations across four states: California, Oregon, Washington, and Nebraska.
Princess Gilbert traveled to Bali, Indonesia, in the summer of 2010 to work at the U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Indonesian Biodiversity Research Center, founded by Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Paul Barber and collaborators from three Indonesian universities. In addition to participating in and assisting with courses on molecular genetics and biodiversity research, she conducted fieldwork using SCUBA to collect tissue samples for genetic analysis for components of her dissertation project on the evolution of Tetraodontiform fishes.
Rachel Johnston traveled to Ecuador’s Chocó rainforest for three weeks in July and August 2010. She visited the Bilsa Biological Research Station and worked with CTR Latin America Director Jordan Karubian, local biologists, and other students to study seed dispersal of Chapil Palms by Long-wattled Umbrellabirds. She also traveled to small communities in the Chocó rainforest to teach school children and speak with local residents about the benefits of conservation. In addition, she attended a two-day conference with biologists, government officials, and local stakeholders to discuss environmental issues.
Kevin Njabo and Tony Chasar are leading research teams in Cameroon during the Fall of 2010 to sample wild birds, domestic poultry, and swine as part of a multi-country collaborative effort to examine spillover and transmission of avian influenza. Tom Smith worked with them in Cameroon for ten days in October. The team led by Kevin Njabo, which includes Dennis Anye Ndeh, Eric Djomo Nana, Norbert Ngameni, Francis Alemanji Forzi, Abel Wade, and Laura Bessong, will survey eleven sites in the northern and central regions of the country between October 7 to December 17, targeting previous H5N1 outbreak areas wherever possible. They also plan to carry out observational studies and survey people to quantify the interactions between wild birds, domestic poultry, swine, and humans. Tony Chasar’s team, consisting of Claire Loiseau and Francis Alemanji Forzi (who will be joining the team for part of the time), will collect samples in the central and eastern regions of Cameroon. Tony Chasar and Claire Loiseau will then travel to the Republic of the Congo during November to carry out additional sampling - the first sampling for avian influenza in wild birds to be carried out there.
Hilton Oyamaguchi is spending November and December 2010 doing fieldwork in Brazil for his dissertation project. He will be collecting frogs and recording their calls along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and the Brazilian savanna. Tom Smith traveled to Brazil for two weeks in November to join Hilton in the field.
Raul Sedano traveled to Colombia in September 2010 for three months for his third field season. He is studying evolutionary processes in Neotropical birds and investigating bird species distributions in the Northern Andes. In addition, he is using bioclimatic and paleoecological data to model spatial shifts in habitat suitability that will provide a historical baseline to evaluate how climate change is affecting species in the Andes. His research team obtained more than 1,200 samples of his target bird species during his previous field seasons.
Christina Marisa Tellez spent two months in Belize during Summer 2010 researching nematode stomach parasitism in the American and the Morelet’s Crocodile. The data from this research will be used by the Belize Forest Department to assess anthropogenic and environmental effects on crocodilian population stability, utilizing the nematodes as bioindicators of the stability of the environment. Additionally, the data will be used to understand the spatial ecology and parasitic behavior of nematodes between the American Alligator, American Crocodile, Morelet’s Crocodile, and the Spectacled Caiman.Pamela Thompson spent the month of August 2010 in Careyes, Mexico, collecting fruit from Crescentia alata trees and germinating seedlings for later genetic analysis on pollen-mediated gene flow. She was assisted in the field by two undergraduates, one from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and one from UCLA. She also traveled to Mexico City for one week to attend an orientation for the Fulbright award she received to study bat-mediated pollen dispersal in fragmented and continuous dry tropical forests along the coast of the state of Jalisco, Mexico, for nine months beginning in January 2011.
A UCLA International Research and Training Center (IRTC) for scholars doing research in Africa has been established in Cameroon. Sleeping accommodations, workspace, and free high-speed Internet access are available in a fully furnished apartment in the Bastos neighborhood of Yaoundé. The apartment has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a fully equipped kitchen. Since it has opened, researchers from Argentina, France, Senegal, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States have stayed at the facility. The apartment serves as a resource center to coordinate projects throughout the region, provides researchers with logistical assistance, and enables scientists from different disciplines to collaborate on research projects.
For reservations, researchers should contact the facility manager, Tipa Julius, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and copy Kevin Njabo, the CTR Africa Director, at email@example.com. Enthusiastic support for the IRTC has been expressed by government agencies and university officials in the United States and Cameroon. Tom Smith has been meeting with foundations and individuals to raise funds for expansion of the IRTC. For more information, see the IRTC website at www.irtc.ucla.edu.
Allison Alvarado received grants from Los Angeles Audubon and the Explorers Club to support her fieldwork in British Columbia, Canada, during Summer 2010. She was also awarded a Lida Scott Brown Research Grant and Fellowship from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA.
Adam Freedman, Alison Hamilton, and Henri Thomassen gave presentations at the Evolution 2010 conference held June 25-29, 2010. This joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Society of Naturalists was held in Portland, Oregon. Adam Freedman presented a paper entitled “Human impacts flatten rainforest-ecotone gradient and reduce adaptive diversity,” Alison Hamilton presented a paper on "Historical and environmental influences on intra-archipelago diversification in a south Pacific tree skink,” and Henri Thomassen presented a paper on “Mapping evolutionary process: conserving biodiversity in the face of climate change.”
Trevon Fuller and Tom Smith attended the National Science Foundation Migration Interest Group: Research Applied Toward Education (MIGRATE) Research Coordination Network meeting in Lake Constance, Germany, from June 19-23, where Tom Smith and Staffan Bensch, of Lund University, Sweden, led the Working Group, “The Role of Avian Migrants in Disease Transmission.”
Princess Gilbert received a National Institutes of Health Genomic Analysis and Training Program grant in the spring of 2010 to fund her Ph.D project on the evolution of Tetraodontiform fishes.
Ana Paula Giorgi gave a presentation at the 25th International Ornithological Congress held August 22-28, 2010 in Campos do Jordão, Brazil. The talk was entitled “Are existent protected areas effective for bird conservation? Analytical framework for assessing connectivity and restoration priorities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.” In addition, she was selected to be a participant in the Pan-American Advanced Studies Institute training workshop on “Expanding the Frontier in Tropical Ecology Through Embedded Sensors” sponsored by the Organization for Tropical Studies at La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica.
Alison Hamilton presented a paper at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists, held in Providence, Rhode Island from July 7-12, 2010 on "Morphological and molecular differentiation and evidence for adaptive diversification in a clade of lizards from Oceania." In addition, she received a grant from the Systematics Research Fund of the Linnean Society of London and the Systematics Association for her project entitled “Combining morphological, genetic, and ecological variation to delimit and describe species in Pacific Island lizards.” She used the funding for a trip to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in September to examine specimens and to describe eight species of lizards new to science.
Kevin Njabo received a grant from the Rufford Small Grants Foundation for a research project to correlate vectors and diseases in the rainforests of Cameroon using molecular genetics and remote sensing. He is collaborating with Anton Cornel, a professor at University of California, Davis, on this project. Anton Cornel and one of his graduate students, Jenny Carlson, visited Cameroon in September 2010 to collect samples for the project.
Hilton Oyamaguchi received research grants from the UCLA Latin American Institute and the California Academy of Sciences Kristina Louie Memorial Fund in June 2010 to support his study of the mechanisms of diversification in South American frog populations along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and the Brazilian savanna.
Christina Marisa Tellez received a Sigma Xi grant for her field season in 2010, as well as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2011-2013. She presented a poster at the 20th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group, an international gathering held in Manaus, Brazil, from September 12-17. Her poster presentation was entitled “Investigations of host-parasite distributions of Alligator mississippiensis in Louisiana.”
Pamela Thompson received an Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA STAR) Graduate Fellowship for Fall 2010 to support her doctoral research on gene flow in a bat-pollinated tree found in tropical dry forests in Mexico. The award supports graduate students in environmental fields.
Ana Paula Giorgi received her Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Geography in Summer 2010 for her thesis on “Spatial conservation planning framework for assessing conservation and restoration opportunities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.” She is beginning a new project entitled “Assessment analysis of priority areas for conservation and restoration under different climate scenarios based on avifauna occurrence data. The case of the Serra do Mar Biological Corridor.” The study is funded by the Nature Conservancy in collaboration with the UCLA Department of Geography.
Rachel Johnston joined the CTR research team in Fall 2010 as a new Ph.D. student in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Tom Smith and Robert Wayne will serve jointly as her thesis advisors.
Brenda Larison, a CTR Senior Research Fellow, joined the CTR avian influenza project in Spring 2010. She is part of the multi-country collaborative effort to examine spillover and transmission of avian influenza between wild and domestic birds.
Victoria Arch completed her Ph.D. in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology in June 2010. She began a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Russell Fernald in the Department of Biology at Stanford University.
Chris Anderson began a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute of Ecology at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) - Mexico City in Winter 2010 after receiving his Ph.D. in Spring 2009 from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for his thesis entitled “Competitor recognition in Rubyspot Damselflies (Hetaerina spp.).” He has continued working with CTR as a Senior Research Fellow and is visiting the UCLA Conservation Genetics Resource Center during Fall 2010 to build a microsatellite library for damselflies in the genus Paraphlebia.
Benoit Goossens, CTR Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysia, encourages CTR members to learn about the Centre’s activities from their website and to check out their September 2010 newsletter. This collaborative research and training facility, opened in July 2008, is located in the lowland rainforest of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and is owned by the Sabah Wildlife Department and supported by Cardiff University.
Amy Rogers, a Senior Research Fellow at CTR and a former Ph.D. student in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, gave an oral presentation entitled “Experimental evidence that dispersal limits succession in tropical secondary forest” at the annual Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation meeting held in Bali, Indonesia, in July 2010. Amy received the Luis F. Bacardi Advances in Tropical Conservation Award for her presentation. This award is presented annually to one young postdoctoral researcher in recognition of their outstanding conservation-related talk at the meeting. Amy is currently a Research Fellow at the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and is based in Esmeraldas, Ecuador.
Tom Smith was a keynote speaker at the Applied Evolution Summit, “Interdisciplinary Solutions to Evolutionary Challenges in Food, Health and the Environment,” held on Heron Island, Australia, January 4-8, 2010. Click here to view the summit video, EvolutionIsland - Sustainable Solutions to Global Challenges.
|Terasaki Life Sciences Building||CTR shared laboratory facilities on the 4th floor|
The Center for Tropical Research laboratory moved to the new Terasaki Life Sciences Building in September. We now share space on the 4th floor with the laboratories of Victoria Sork, Dean of Life Sciences, and Robert Wayne. With state-of-the-art facilities and an open floor plan, this new laboratory promises to foster greater interdisciplinary research and interaction between graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and staff. Victoria Sork addressed hundreds of scientists and other members of the UCLA community at the October 25th grand opening of the new building.
The UCLA Institute of the Environment (IoE) began the Fall 2010 quarter by announcing its new name, the UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability (IoES). Explaining the name change, Institute Director Glen MacDonald said, "Adding this term reflects the rapidly increasing importance of sustainability science. It reflects the institute's range of programs and our place as a major center of sustainability among national universities.” To read more on sustainability and the IoES, click here. As a center of the IoES, the CTR website and literature will reflect this name change.
Kelly Swing, CTR Senior Research Fellow and Director of Estación de Biodiversidad Tiputini (Tiputini Biodiversity Station), a part of the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador, is active in the campaign to stop oil extraction in Yasuní National Park in Ecuador. He has asked CTR to inform its membership about the campaign. The Yasuní National Park in Amazonian Ecuador has recently been confirmed as the zone with the highest biodiversity on the planet and has been declared a world biosphere reserve by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its preservation is complicated by the fact that Yasuní sits atop valuable oil reserves that could fund the country’s economy.
The Ecuadorian government wants to conserve Yasuní, but argues that it cannot simply forego the income that the oil beneath it would provide. Ecuador has launched an innovative campaign to have the international community compensate the country in exchange for keeping the oil in the ground. If the world would replace half the oil’s value from the Ishpingo-Tiputini-Tambococha (ITT) oil fields in the park ($3.6 billion over the next 13 years), the Ecuadorian government has promised to never drill there. The campaign to “keep the oil in the soil” would contribute to preserving biodiversity, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and protecting the rights of indigenous peoples and their way of life. To read more about the campaign to save Yasuní National Park, click here to visit the website, here to view the YouTube video, “Can Yasuní Go On Forever?” and here to read an article on the “Global conservation significance of Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park” in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The Center for Tropical Research would like to thank Noah’s Naturals for their generous contribution in May 2010 through their participation in 1% for the Planet, a global movement of companies that donate 1% of their sales to a network of environmental organizations worldwide. Their donation is helping to fund the International Research and Training Center in Cameroon, Africa.
- National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center. Dynamics of Cross-species Influenza Transmission: An International Collaboration – Cameroon and Egypt. (2009-2011)
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Long-distance Movements by Hornbills and the Conservation of Central African Rainforests. (2010-2011)
Jaime Chaves traveled to Santa Cruz Island, one of the Galapagos Islands, for one month in February of 2010 to conduct research on genetic variation in Darwin’s Finches. The trip was part of a research collaboration with Professor Jeffrey Podos, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Professor Andrew Hendry, from McGill University in Canada.
Tony Chasar and Kevin Njabo are leading two new CTR projects in Cameroon and Egypt to examine the spillover and transmission of avian influenza virus among wild birds, domesticated birds and animals, and humans, especially humans in agricultural occupations (principally poultry- and swine-associated). This ongoing study is part of a global collaborative effort headed by the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center to examine the dynamics of flu transmission. Kevin and Tony led a team of researchers in Cameroon in December 2009 and January 2010 that collected samples of wild birds, domestic poultry, and swine. Tony led a team that continued sampling through March. The field assistants on the teams included Dennis Anye Ndeh, Francis Alemanji Forzi, and Djomo Nana Eric.
Kevin Njabo and Tom Smith traveled to Cairo, Egypt, February 1-7, 2010 to locate potential avian influenza study sites and meet with local collaborators. Kevin and Tony Chasar arrived in Egypt in April 2010 to begin field sampling for wild birds (resident and migratory) and domestic poultry. Most of the sampling is taking place in Upper Egypt (Al Fayyum) and two governorates (Sharkia and Garbia) of the Nile Delta, targeting previous H5N1 avian influenza outbreak areas where possible. The data collected will help to produce a model that contrasts transmission dynamics variables among target countries and enables researchers to predict transmission risks.
Alex Kirschel traveled to Gamboa, Panama, in March 2010 to continue his research on song variation in Neotropical passerines. Work was conducted primarily along Pipeline Road, a trail in Soberania National Park that holds the world record as the place where the highest number of bird species (385) were identified in a 24-hour period. The study was carried out in collaboration with Corey Tarwater, a Ph.D. student from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While in Panama, Alex also attended the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's annual symposium.
Hilton Oyamaguchi spent three and a half months in Brazil, from November 2009 to February 2010, collecting morphology and vocalization data from the Lesser Treefrog Dendropsophus minutus along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and the Brazilian savannah (the Cerrado). His field team was comprised of two student assistants from the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso and one biologist from the Universidade Estadual do Mato Grosso. At the conclusion of his field studies, he donated his frog samples to two museum collections: Dr. Célio F. B. Haddad’s frog collection at the Universidade Estadual Paulista and the vertebrate collection at the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso. Hilton brought tissue aliquots of the frog samples back to UCLA for population genetics characterization.
Raul Sedano carried out field research in Colombia from August through December 2009 where he is studying mechanisms of local population differentiation in Andean birds. Fieldwork was conducted on the western versant of the Andean ranges flanking the Colombian Pacific coast with the goal of obtaining new data on sister species that exhibit displacement along the elevational gradient. The data from this fieldwork is contributing towards the national initiative to annotate four threatened bird species in the Northern Andes. During his field season, Raul collaborated with researchers at the Universidad de Nariño, as well as students from several graduate programs, to collect data on morphological traits and avian vocalizations.
Stephanie Steele traveled to the Bilsa Biological Research Station in Ecuador for six weeks in February and March 2010, along with fellow graduate student and CTR affiliate, Keith Gaddis, to conduct research for her dissertation. With the help of volunteers and staff from the Jatun Sacha Foundation, they established a series of seedling plots throughout the field site to track the effects of fungal pathogens on Rubiaceae seedling recruitment dynamics. Seedling samples were also collected for genetic work with the goal of identifying the genetic structure of potentially adaptive pathogen resistance genes across the landscape.
Trevon Fuller and Ryan Harrigan gave presentations at the 2010 Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Principal Investigators’ meeting held in Atlantic City, New Jersey from March 22-25. Both received Burroughs Welcome Travel Scholarships to attend the meeting, which was sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, the Fogarty International Center, and the National Science Foundation. Trevon spoke on “Mapping the risk of avian influenza in wild birds in the U.S.” and Ryan presented a research project entitled “Predicting West Nile virus incidence under present and future climate conditions.” A poster, entitled “Using remote sensing to map the risk of human monkeypox virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” was presented on a collaborative project between researchers in CTR, the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, the Department of Epidemiology, UCLA School of Public Health, and the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Poster authors included Seth Blumberg, Wolfgang Buermann, Prime Mulembakani, James Lloyd-Smith, Anne Rimoin, Sassan Saatchi, Tom Smith, and Henri Thomassen.
Kristine Kaiser received a National Science Foundation Broadening Participation in Biology Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in April 2010 to study the effect of anthropogenic noise on amphibian physiology. She will begin a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Professor Wendy Saltzman at UC Riverside in September 2010.
Alex Kirschel gave a presentation at the 2010 American Ornithologists' Union meeting in San Diego, California in February 2010. Alex's presentation was entitled "Territory dynamics of Mexican antthrush (Formicarius moniliger) revealed by their songs."
Kevin Njabo received an award from the International Ornithological Congress (IOC) Travel Support Committee to attend the 25th IOC in Brazil from August 22-28, 2010. He will be presenting a paper on “The isolation of avian Plasmodium from field-collected mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) in the lowland forests of Cameroon.”
Hilton Oyamaguchi received a Sigma Xi grant to support his next field season in Brazil in Fall 2010. He also received recording equipment from Idea Wild, a non-governmental organization dedicated to conserving biodiversity, to support his studies of frog call differentiation along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and Brazilian savanna.
Stephanie Steele received a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid-of-Research to support her laboratory work during 2010. Her work will focus on identifying neutral genetic markers and pathogen resistance genes from plant samples collected during her field season in Ecuador.
Pam Thompson received a Fulbright award for continued field research on bats and bat-pollinated trees in Jalisco, Mexico. The award is for a period of nine months, beginning in January 2011.
Kristen Ruegg, who recently completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, will be helping CTR researchers launch a new project to determine patterns of migratory connectivity and develop models that predict how ranges of migratory songbirds may shift as a result of climate change. She will focus on grant writing and developing genetic tools to link populations of several targeted migratory songbird species throughout their annual cycle.
Alex Kirschel completed his postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA and accepted a faculty position at the University of Cyprus in the field of Biodiversity and Ecology in the Department of Biological Sciences.
Jaime Chaves is expected to complete his Ph.D. in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in June 2010. He has accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, in the laboratory of Professor John Klicka.
Eduardo Mendoza Ramirez completed a year of postdoctoral research at CTR and returned to Mexico in March 2010 to spend his second postdoctoral year at the Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, National Autonomous University of Mexico (CIECO-UNAM), Campus Morelia, in Michoacán, México. He will continue work on a collaborative grant between CTR and Professor Miguel Martinez-Ramos (CIECO-UNAM), funded by the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States and El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (UC MEXUS-CONACYT), entitled “An Integrative Approach to Assess the Impacts of Land-Use and Climate Change on Mexican Tropical Biodiversity.” He will also continue field research on the ecology and conservation of the Central American tapir.
The Center for Tropical Research (CTR) is pleased to announce a generous gift of $60,000 from Margery Nicolson that will support new research aimed at linking the migratory routes of birds. The research will use the latest genetic and isotopic approaches to identify where North American breeding birds winter in Latin America. Linking breeding and wintering areas of migratory birds is an essential first step in CTR’s efforts to understand the transmission and spread of infectious diseases, such as avian influenza and West Nile virus, as well as why some migratory bird populations are declining.
Jeff Buchbinder, Lee Cooper, and James Keston recently joined the Friends of CTR, which consists of supporters and donors who have come together to promote CTR’s research and conservation initiatives by helping to increase CTR’s visibility, public outreach, and fundraising efforts with public agencies, non-governmental organizations, foundations, and private donors.
Betty Franklin, longtime CTR friend and supporter, died on January 4, 2010. Tom Smith, CTR Director, attended her memorial in Fairfax, California. In December 2002, Betty established a generous endowment for CTR through a Life Estate Gift Annuity. This gift arrangement enabled her to give a gift of her home to the UCLA Foundation while continuing to live in it and receive lifetime annuity payments. This gift will create the E.P. and Betty Franklin Endowed Fund in Tropical Conservation to support ongoing CTR research projects.
- National Science Foundation. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Supplement to: Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds (2010)
Dear Friends of CTR,
The research and conservation project in the Chocó rainforest of Ecuador continues to grow in exciting ways. Since the last newsletter, the Ecuador Project received new funding support from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. The Ecuador Project received media coverage in El Comercio, Ecuador’s largest newspaper, and in Our University newsletter at UCLA. New research and training work on migratory birds was implemented with funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in four provinces in northwest Ecuador.
Project Director Jordan Karubian traveled to Latin America from September 21 to October 9, 2009. In October, CTR’s Ecuador Project hosted the first annual Bi-national Symposium on Chocó Research at the Bilsa Biological Station in Ecuador. This symposium, funded by a grant from UCLA’s International Institute, brought together leading Colombian and Ecuadorian researchers working in the Chocó and laid the foundation for future collaborative projects. Prior to this symposium, Project Directors Jordan Karubian and Renata Durães traveled to Brazil where they had been invited to give talks on their research at the V Simpósio em Ecologia: Ecologia do Comportamento, organized by the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro from September 22-24. In November, local researchers will give presentations, for their third consecutive year, at Jornadas Nacionales de Biologia, a scientific meeting to be held in Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Project Directors Jordan Karubian and Renata Durães will be moving to New Orleans at the end of the year, where Jordan Karubian has accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Tulane University. They will be continuing their research and conservation work in Ecuador in close collaboration with CTR.
Allison Alvarado returned from a research trip to British Columbia in June and July where she put light-level geolocators on breeding Hermit Thrushes. These devices utilize variation in day length to monitor long-distance movements throughout the year. She will return to Canada next summer to retrieve the data loggers, which will elucidate the patterns and timing of migration in populations across a migratory divide.
Zac Cheviron traveled to northern New Mexico in July to conduct fieldwork on high-altitude adaptation in montane birds breeding in the southern Rocky Mountains.
Thomas Dietsch traveled to Cameroon to continue fieldwork on a project to track long-distance movements of hornbills near the Dja Faunal Reserve. This trip, from May through August, focused on capturing White-thighed and Black-casqued Hornbills in order to attach Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite tracking units. Anthony Chasar and Tom Smith joined him for two weeks in August to assist in capturing hornbills and Anthony Chasar and Francis Forzi returned to the study area in September to capture additional hornbills. In total, 14 hornbills were captured and tagged with GPS satellite transmitters. These transmitters have the potential to provide data on movement patterns over the upcoming years and help determine if hornbills migrate and where they go during the food lean dry season.
Ana Paula Giorgi traveled to Brazil to work with collaborators at the University of São Paulo to refine results on reserve design and connectivity for her study on the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.
Ali Hamilton participated in a workshop entitled “A Multi-Taxa Approach Towards the Biogeography of Melanesia: Higher Order Science to Inform Conservation” held in August on the campus of the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji. The workshop brought together 15 researchers from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands. While in Fiji, she provided a brief training course in the preparation and long-term storage of reptile museum specimens to the curatorial staff at the natural history collections of the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, and to Fijian herpetologists with the Wildlife Conservation Society and Nature Fiji. She also conducted fieldwork on Naigani Island, Fiji, for a week in August as part of a team examining patterns of biodiversity. She is studying genetic and morphological variation in a group of arboreal skinks endemic to the islands of Melanesia (in the southwestern Pacific Ocean) and this field trip resulted in the collection of what is likely a species of lizard new to science.
Brenda Larison traveled to Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, and South Africa from August to November for her research project exploring the genetic basis of stripe variation in Plains Zebras and the mechanisms of natural selection acting on wild populations.
Eduardo Mendoza traveled to southeast Mexico for six weeks to carry out research on the ecology and conservation of the Central American tapir (see field report). The fieldwork was funded by a Faculty Research Grant from the UCLA Latin American Institute. The study is part of a broader collaborative project between researchers at CTR and the Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to examine the impacts of land use and climate change on Mexican tropical biodiversity. This two-year project is funded by a grant from the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States and El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (UC MEXUS-CONACYT).
Raul Sedano is conducting fieldwork in Colombia from July 2009 to January 2010 where he is studying mechanisms of local population differentiation in Andean birds.
Tom Smith and Anthony Chasar traveled across Cameroon in August to record the song repertoire of the Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens). They traveled to Lomie, in the eastern region, Bafia in the western region, and Limbe in the southwestern region. The aim of this fieldwork was to ground truth a study that correlates bird song patterns to landscape metrics gathered from remote sensing data.
Pamela Thompson traveled to the Central Pacific Coast of México for six weeks in June through August to conduct fieldwork for her dissertation on nectar-feeding bats and bat-pollinated trees.
Allison Alvarado received a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for the 2009-10 academic year from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Victoria Arch was awarded a 2009-10 Dissertation Year Fellowship from the UCLA Graduate Division. She also received the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles Henri Seibert Award for the Best Student Presentation in Physiology/Morphology at the 2009 Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists.
Jaime Chaves received a summer and fall fellowship for the 2009-10 academic year from UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, as well as funding from the Velez Trust Fellowship and Lida Scott Brown fund.
Zac Cheviron will begin a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Nebraska in January 2010.
Emily Curd received a Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) Fellowship for 2009-10 from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Thomas Dietsch attended the World Agroforestry Congress in Nairobi, Kenya, in August where he presented his research on ecosystem services by birds in the cacao agroforests of Cameroon. In September, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts to begin his new position as Research Director for Ecosystem Services at Earthwatch Institute.
Adam Freedman received a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology and joined the laboratory of UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor John Novembre in Fall 2009. He also received the 2009 Scherbaum Award in recognition of outstanding research in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Ana Paula Giorgi coordinated the Restoration Session and gave a presentation on the “Analytical Framework for Assessing Connectivity and Restoration Priorities in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil” at the Latin American Landscape Ecology meeting held in Campos do Jordão, São Paulo, Brazil, from October 4-7. She also received a Society of Women Geographers Fellowship to support her fieldwork and to continue her studies in the Atlantic Forest.
Ali Hamilton accepted a postdoctoral scholar position in the laboratory of UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Professor Paul Barber.
Kristine Kaiser presented a talk at the Animal Behavior Society annual meeting in June, and at the Joint Meeting of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists in July. She received the Henri Seibert Award, Conservation category, from the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, and the Amphibian Conservation Award from Save the Frogs. She was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate STEM Fellowship in K-12 Education (GK-12) for the 2009-10 academic year.
Alex Kirschel received an Ecological Society of America Award for Outstanding Student Research. His paper, "Character displacement of song and morphology in African tinkerbirds," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (co-authored with D. Blumstein and T. Smith, 2009), was selected as a "must read" for Faculty of 1000 Biology by Jonathan Losos (Harvard University).
Hilton Oyamaguchi was awarded a George Bartholomew Research Fellowship for Summer 2009 by the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He also received a Fieldwork Fellowship from the UCLA International Institute for his research trip to Brazil in Fall 2009.
Raul Sedano was awarded a Quality of Graduate Education fellowship for the 2009-10 academic year by the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Henri Thomassen was invited by the National Institutes of Health to speak at a Multinational Influenza Seasonal Mortality Study (MISMS) Africa Meeting held in Dakar, Senegal, April 21-25. He spoke on “Ecological Modeling of Infectious Disease” at a workshop on the data analysis of influenza surveying and monitoring programs.
Pamela Thompson was awarded a Bat Conservation International Student Research Scholarship, a grant from the UCLA Latin American Institute, and a University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS) grant to conduct field and laboratory work during 2009-10.
Adam Freedman received his Ph.D. in Fall 2009 from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for his thesis entitled “Adaptive Diversification and Anthropogenic Impacts on African Rainforest Biodiversity.”
Emily Curd, who has been a staff researcher for CTR’s avian influenza project since 2007, was accepted into the graduate program in the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology with Tom Smith as her thesis advisor.
Erin Toffelmier will serve as the principal laboratory researcher and sample coordinator for the avian influenza project.
We would like to thank Margery Nicolson for her continued generous contributions to CTR, as well as Garry George, and Nature & Culture International. We would also like to thank BioME 5 Organics for their contribution to CTR as part of their membership in 1% For the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide.
- National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center. Dynamics of Cross-species Influenza Transmission: An International Collaboration – Egypt. (2009-2010)
- National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center. Dynamics of Cross-species Influenza Transmission: An International Collaboration – Cameroon. (2009-2010)
- The University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States-El Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (UC MEXUS-CONACYT) Collaborative Research Grant. An Integrative Approach to Assess the Impacts of Land Use and Climate Change on Mexican Tropical Biodiversity. (2009-2011)
- UCLA Latin American Institute Faculty Research Grant. A Novel Approach to Monitoring the Population Status of the Endangered Baird’s Tapir: the Last Central America Megaherbivore. (2009-2010)
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Umbrellabird Conservation in the Chocó. (2009-2010)
- National Science Foundation. Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). Supplement to: Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds. (2009)
Dear Friends of CTR,
The William Turner Gallery in Bergamont Station in Santa Monica, California hosted a very successful fundraising event for the Ecuador Project on October 19, 2008 – special thanks to host committee members Carol Coote, Lynne Grande, and Bill Turner! Project Director Jordan Karubian traveled to the project site in Ecuador in November 2008 and met with local government and non-governmental leaders. Project Coordinator Renata Durães has completed preliminary mapping of the project area using satellite imagery. Local residents working on the project made presentations at their second Jornadas de Biologia meeting held in Loja, Ecuador. The education project, led by Monica Gonzalez, completed its fourth year in December, reaching over 1,000 local school children. A project on the conservation of migratory birds, funded by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, is now underway in northwest Ecuador. Jordan Karubian and Renata Durães returned to Ecuador on March 19, 2009 for a month of field research.
Jordan Karubian gave presentations about the Ecuador Project to the Pomona Valley chapter of the Audubon Society in January 2009, and to the Conejo Valley Audubon Society and the Biology Department of Claremont McKenna College in Pomona, California in February 2009. Renata Durães gave talks to the Biology Department at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California and at the Environmental Science Colloquium seminar series hosted by the Institute of the Environment at UCLA in March 2009. They both presented a poster on their work about seed dispersal by Long-wattled Umbrellabirds at a symposium on “Living in a defaunated world: consequences for plant-animal interactions,” held at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California in March 2009.
Kevin Njabo and Thomas Dietsch coordinated a Government Inter-ministerial and Needs Assessment Workshop on “Avian Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Central Africa” on February 5, 2009, in Yaounde, Cameroon. The workshop was organized by CTR in collaboration with the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Animal Industries, the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, and the United Nations Development Program. The workshop was designed to bring together all of the relevant government ministries and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working on avian influenza to present their programs and research results. Delegates also discussed future research needs, including human, domestic bird, and wild bird surveillance. The delegates agreed that the workshop provided a rare opportunity to share results to better protect public health and the domestic bird industry. Future research-sharing workshops were recommended.
Kevin Njabo also facilitated a Wild Bird Sampling Workshop and Training for field technicians on “Avian Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Central Africa” from March 6-7, 2009, in Akonolinga and Ndibi, Cameroon. The training focused on wild bird identification and sampling and the role of wild birds in the spread of avian influenza subtype H5N1. The workshop was geared toward enabling local health and wildlife personnel to conduct surveillance and to respond to sudden die-offs of wild birds. The workshop updated participants about recent outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI), the role of wild birds in the potential spread of HPAI, and provided instruction on wild bird identification and sampling techniques. The second day of the workshop was a hands-on experience, and included an introduction to bird capture, biosafety and biosecurity protocols, and sampling of live birds. These workshops were funded by a grant to CTR from the National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center.
Zachary Cheviron traveled to the Peruvian Andes in February 2009 to study adaptations to high elevation in Rufous-collared Sparrows. He was accompanied on the trip by his colleague Richard Gibbons, a graduate student from Louisiana State University, who was surveying bird communities in high altitude peat bogs, habitats that are poorly known and extremely threatened by climate change. They were assisted by two students, Shelia Antoinette and Flor Hernandez, from the Centro de Ornitologia y Biodiversidad in Lima.
Thomas Dietsch completed initial fieldwork in Cameroon near the Dja Reserve in February 2009 for a project to track the long-distance movements and habitat use of hornbills. For this project, he is attaching GPS satellite transmitters to two species of hornbills, White-thighed Hornbills and Black-casqued Hornbills.
Ana Paula Giorgi was in Brazil in 2008, between June and December, working on her Ph.D. dissertation on reserve designs in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. She spent a month in the field gathering data on her 24 target bird species and four months at Dr. Luis Fabio Silveira’s Ornithology Laboratory at the Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP) collecting additional data for her project. She also collaborated with the Ornithology Laboratory on a project studying distribution of a parakeet species in the Amazon rainforest.
Alex Kirschel traveled to Uganda in February 2009 for three weeks of research on his study species, Little Greenbul (Andropadus virens), Pogoniulus tinkerbirds, and Green Hylia (Hylia prasina), collecting samples and recordings.
Kevin Njabo spent one month in the field in Ndibi, Cameroon, in Winter 2009 collecting more than 2,000 samples of cloacal and tracheal swabs and feathers for CTR’s avian influenza research grants (National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center). He also collected blood slides of wild birds for CTR’s grant on the “Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds” (National Science Foundation).
Hilton Oyamaguchi returned in January 2009 from a three-month field season in Brazil. He visited three museums to collect morphometric data on frogs and to get geographic coordinates for frog sampling sites. He surveyed frogs along the gradient between the Amazon rainforest and the Brazilian savannah (the Cerrado). He collected 500 samples with the assistance of four field assistants from the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso and the Universidade Estadual do Mato Grosso. This research trip was supported by a Doctoral Student Research Grant from the UCLA Latin American Institute and the Faucett Family Foundation.
Raul Sedano returned in January 2009 from a six-month field season in Colombia where he obtained more than 800 samples from 10% of the bird species in Colombia for his dissertation project on mechanisms of local population differentiation in Andean birds.
Allison Alvarado, Jaime Chaves, Adam Freedman, Hilton Oyamaguchi, and Raul Sedano received Research Awards from the Graduate Awards Subcommittee in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in March 2009.
Allison Alvarado, Paul Bunje, Henri Thomassen, and Tom Smith traveled to the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PRBO) in Petaluma, California in January 2009 for meetings to discuss possible future collaborations on modeling the impact of climate change on Californian bird populations.
Emily Curd, Ryan Harrigan, Tom Smith, Henri Thomassen, and Erin Toffelmier attended the National Institutes of Health/National Science Foundation annual Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases Network Meeting in Park City Utah from March 30 to April 2, 2009. Ryan Harrigan gave a talk on CTR’s West Nile virus research and Emily Curd, Henri Thomassen, and Erin Toffelmier presented posters on CTR’s avian influenza research projects.
Ana Paula Giorgi was awarded a CAPES (Coordenacao de Aperfeicoamento de Pessoal de Nivel Superior) fellowship for the academic year of 2009-2010. CAPES is a Research Center of the Brazilian Ministry of Education.
Ryan Harrigan presented a lecture in January 2009 entitled "Determining Predictors of West Nile Virus in a Local Hotspot" as part of the Environmental Science Colloquium seminar series hosted by the Institute of the Environment at UCLA.
Alex Kirschel received postdoctoral funding for Winter 2009 from the Veneklasen Foundation (Daniel Blumstein, Principal Investigator). He also received a collections study grant from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City to work with their ornithology collection.
Benjamin Wang received his Ph.D. from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Fall 2008 for his thesis entitled "Impacts of Hunting on Seed Dispersal in a Central African Tropical Forest."
Anthony Chasar was appointed a Staff Research Associate at CTR in March 2009 and left for a 42-day field trip in Cameroon to perform sampling on wild and domestic birds for CTR’s grant entitled “Avian Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Central Africa.” This is a sub-award from UCLA School of Public Health Professor Scott Layne’s National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) grant. It is part of the NIAID Centers for Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS) program, and is a collaborative effort with Scott Layne’s Center for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research (CRISAR).
Zachary Cheviron, who received his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, was appointed as a Postdoctoral Scholar at CTR in January 2009. He is participating in research on the molecular genetic basis of bill size polymorphisms in Black-bellied Seedcrackers (Pyrenestes ostrinus).
Ali Hamilton recently received her Ph.D. from Louisiana State University and joined the CTR research team at UCLA. Her research is focused on determining the factors that generate and maintain diversity in reptile species endemic to oceanic island systems in the southwestern Pacific Ocean.
Eduardo Mendoza Ramirez has been appointed as a Visiting Scholar at CTR. He was awarded a two-year postdoctoral scholarship from the National Council of Science and Technology of Mexico (CONACYT). He will spend one year in the U.S. and one year in Mexico conducting research on topics related to the conservation of biodiversity in tropical forests in Southeast Mexico.
Edward Mitchard, a graduate student in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh (Scotland), has returned to CTR to continue his collaborations with CTR researchers for his dissertation on using remote sensing as a tool to detect and quantify vegetation properties in tropical forest-savanna transitions.
We would like to thank the organizers and all of the donors who attended the fundraiser for the Ecuador Project held on October 19, 2008 at the William Turner Gallery in Bergamont Station in Santa Monica, California. We would also like to thank Noah’s Naturals in Los Angeles for their contribution to CTR as part of their membership in 1% For the Planet, an alliance of businesses that donate at least 1% of their annual revenues to environmental organizations worldwide.
- California Department of Fish and Game, U.S. Department of the Interior. Population Structure of the Tricolored Blackbird in California: Are Northern and Southern Populations Genetically Distinct? (2009-2010)
- Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Hornbill Conservation in Cameroon Cocoa. (2008-2009)
- UCLA International Institute Faculty Grants in International and Regional Studies. Multidisciplinary Research Initiative in a South American Conservation Priority: the Chocó Rainforest. (2009-2010)
Dear Friends of CTR,
This has been an active time for CTR’s conservation and research work in Ecuador. CTR started the fourth year of its education program, which now reaches over 500 children, adults, and teachers in 15 local communities with information about reforestation, forest regeneration, and other environmental themes. Dr. Jordan Karubian, CTR Latin America Director and Project Coordinator, gave presentations at the 12th International Behavioral Ecology Congress (August 13 in Ithaca, New York) and at the Los Angeles Chapter of the Audubon Society (September 10 in Los Angeles, California) and Dr. Renata Durães gave a presentation on the project to the Environmental Volunteers group in Palo Alto, California (June 12). Dr. Karubian was also featured on a radio show on Indie 103.1 FM (June 23), and the project is being featured on the Earth Protect website in October 2008 (http://www.earthprotect.com).Dr. Karubian recently received grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the study of migratory birds and from the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund for our community-oriented conservation work in Ecuador. Carol Coote and Sarah and Alex Graves hosted a successful fundraising event on behalf of the Ecuador Project on June 8, and we would like to thank all of the event committee members and everyone who made donations to the project. We hope to see you at our next event, to be held on Sunday, October 19, from 4-6 pm, at the William Turner Gallery in Bergamont Station, in Santa Monica, California (click here for event flyer).
Thanks to the monumental efforts of many volunteer bird banders from the Institute for Bird Populations and the Landbird Monitoring Network of the Americas, over 30,000 cloacal swabs and feather samples have been collected for the North America Avian Influenza Project. In addition, more than 5,000 cloacal and tracheal samples from Africa, 1,500 cloacal tracheal samples from Vietnam, and 5,000 cloacal samples from South America have been collected by researchers affiliated with CTR. Out of the several thousand samples already processed, 2-11% tested positive for the presence of avian influenza. The subtypes have not yet been determined. Rates varied between locations and seasons.Great progress has also been made in the collaborative study of the transmission of avian strains of influenza between birds and humans. As part of this study, staff researchers from CTR and the UCLA School of Public Health sampled blood from nearly 200 people at the 2008 American Ornithologists’ Union meeting held in Portland, Oregon. These samples, from people with varied exposure to birds, will be tested for immune reactivity to antigens of different subtypes of influenza.
Wolfgang Buermann and Jaime Chaves traveled to the Galapagos Islands for six weeks in July and August to study phylogeographic associations between Yellow Warbler populations on different islands. They studied genetic, morphologic, plumage, and song variation.
Thomas Dietsch completed field research in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam in April 2008 where he worked on a project monitoring wild birds for avian influenza. This research was made possible through support provided by the Office of Health, Infectious Disease and Nutrition, the Bureau for Global Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. On September 29, he began fieldwork on a new project in Cameroon. He will be placing 20 GPS satellite transmitters on hornbills to track their long-distance movements and habitat use. Previously, using standard radio telemetry, CTR researchers found that hornbills moved hundreds of kilometers outside of a protected forest reserve during fruit lean times. This work is a collaborative project between CTR, Dr. Martin Wikelski of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, and Dr. David Wilcox of Princeton University. The hornbill project is funded by the Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund and the National Geographic Society.
Hilton Oyamaguchi began a three-month field season in Brazil in September where he will be conducting research for his dissertation project, “Exploring the mechanisms of diversification in frogs in the Amazon rainforest.” He is examining the role of ecology resulting in divergence in vocalization and morphology traits in frog species in the transition area between the Amazon rainforest and the Brazilian Cerrado. He recently spent two weeks at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C. and the American Museum of Natural History in New York measuring specimens from different populations in this transition zone to help determine his target species.Raul Sedano is spending six months in Latin America studying evolutionary processes and investigating the distribution of Neotropical birds in the Northern Andes of Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela. He will also collect bioclimatic and paleoecological data to model spatial shifts in habitat suitability that will provide a historical baseline to evaluate how climate change is affecting avian species in the Neotropics.
CTR Director Tom Smith, along with six CTR graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, attended the AOU/COS/SCO 2008 Meeting sponsored by the American Ornithologists' Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists/Société des Ornithologistes du Canada. At the meeting, held in Portland, Oregon from August 4-9, Allison Alvarado gave a talk on “Genetic and phenotypic variation across a migratory divide in the Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus.” Emily Curd gave a talk on the “Effects of avian migration and anthropogenic change on the distribution and transmission risks of avian influenza.” Ryan Harrigan gave a talk on “Ecological and anthropogenic factors influencing the distribution and transmission of West Nile virus in vector and host populations.” Alex Kirschel gave a talk on “Patterns of phenotypic evolution in two related African barbets.” Henri Thomassen gave a talk on “Facing climate change: a framework for including adaptive variation in conservation prioritization.” Tom Smith gave a talk on “Evolutionary consequences of human disturbance in a rainforest bird.”
Allison Alvarado received a Lida Scott Brown Conference Travel Award from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to attend the American Ornithologists’ Union Annual Meeting in Portland, Oregon, August 4-8, 2008. She also received a Lida Scott Brown Research Award for the 2008-09 academic year.
Wolfgang Buermann, Tom Smith, and Henri Thomassen attended the 2008 NASA Carbon Cycle and Ecosystems Joint Science Workshop in Adelphi, Maryland held April 28-May 2. Tom Smith gave a presentation at the Biodiversity and Ecological Forecasting Team Meeting on “Quantifying patterns of biodiversity in a changing climate.” Wolfgang Buermann presented a poster on “An analysis of the distribution and prevalence of malaria blood parasites in the Olive Sunbird across West African landscapes.” Henri Thomassen presented a poster on “Conserving adaptive variation: a new direction in conservation prioritization.”
Jaime Chaves received a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid of Research in May 2008 to investigate different genetic mechanisms and molecular pathways that determine how hummingbird bills are formed in this taxonomic group characterized by dramatic bill shapes. He received the Explorers Club Exploration Fund Award in June 2008 to complete laboratory work for his study on the role of the Andes in hummingbird speciation. He also received a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for the 2008-09 academic year from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Thomas Dietsch gave a presentation on "Evaluating avian influenza reservoirs and transmission pathways between wild and domestic birds" at the Surveillance for Avian Influenza in Wild Birds training workshop for the Vietnam Department of Animal Health. The workshop, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was held April 7-8, 2008 in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Alex Kirschel received a National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant in April 2008. In June 2008, he received the Otto H. Scherbaum Award and a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Erin Marnocha received a Holmes O. Miller Fellowship for Summer 2008 from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. She also received a Conference Travel Award from the department to attend the Society for Conservation Biology 2008 Annual Meeting, held in Chattanooga, Tennessee July 13-17, where she gave a a talk entitled “Anthropogenic habitat alteration drives natural selection in an island lizard.”
Kevin Njabo attended the 12th Pan-African Ornithological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa from September 7-12, where he gave a talk on "A new vector for avian malaria in Cameroon." At the Congress, he was elected to the Pan-African Ornithological Congress Committee (PAOCC) and will serve from 2008 to 2016.
Hilton Oyamaguchi received a Doctoral Student Research Grant from the UCLA Latin American Institute in June 2008 for his proposed study on the diversification of frogs in the Amazon rainforest.
Raul Sedano received a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for Summer 2008 and a Lida Scott Brown Research Grant from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Ben Wang received a Vavra grant for Summer 2008 from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Alex Kirschel received his Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Summer 2008 for his thesis on “How ecology shapes bird song in tropical rainforests: the importance of song in generating biodiversity and structuring communities.” In Fall 2008, he accepted a position as a postdoctoral scholar in the UCLA laboratory of Professor Charles Taylor where he will continue his work in bioacoustics.
Erin Marnocha received her Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Summer 2008 for her thesis entitled “Evolutionary change in human-altered habitats: morphological shifts, differential selection, and environmental drivers of phenotypic plasticity in the lizard Anolis sagrei.” She is now Project Manager for Once Upon a Watershed, a watershed education and restoration program based in Ojai, California.
Amy Rogers received her Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in Summer 2008. Her dissertation was entitled “Regeneration pattern and process in tropical secondary forest: how recruitment dynamics limit succession.” She will be continuing her conservation work in Ecuador’s northwest Esmeraldas Province as a full-time Research Fellow for the Pinchot Institute for Conservation. Her work is directed at implementing an integrated conservation management plan in the Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve, one of three remaining expanses of Chocó coastal rainforest in Ecuador.
Renata Durães recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri-St Louis and joined the research team at CTR. She will be working with CTR Latin America Director Jordan Karubian on research, training, and educational projects in the Chocó rainforests of Ecuador and on fundraising efforts in the U.S.
Elena Berg, who was a postdoctoral scholar at CTR from 2004-2006, has returned for Fall 2008 to conduct research on the population genetic structure of the Southern California population of Tricolored Blackbirds, listed as a “California Species of Special Concern.” This project is funded by Audubon California, by the Sea & Sage, the Pomona Valley, and the Los Angeles chapters of the Audubon Society, and by the California Department of Fish and Game.
Thomas Dietsch, who has been a postdoctoral scholar at CTR since 2005, was appointed to the position of Assistant Researcher at the UCLA Institute of the Environment.
Jordan Karubian, who has been an Assistant Researcher at the Institute of the Environment since 2004, was appointed to the position of Associate Researcher.
We would like to thank everyone who has contributed to CTR and to the Ecuador Project this year. We would like to give special thanks to donors Margery Nicolson, John Karubian, the Rosenthal Family Foundation, Teens Beyond Boundaries, Marvin Jubas, and Ivan Samuels for their leadership gifts to the Ecuador Project.
- National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Centers for Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance (CEIRS). Avian Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Central Africa. Center for Rapid Influenza Surveillance and Research (CRISAR) Research Grant (2008-2012).
- National Science Foundation/National Institutes of Health/Fogarty International Center. Avian Influenza Surveillance and Capacity Building in Central Africa (2008-2009). Supplement to: Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-Borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds.
- National Science Foundation. Research Experience for Undergraduates (2008). Supplement to: Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-Borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds.
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Umbrellabird Conservation in the Chocó (2008-2009).
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Migratory Bird Conservation Act Program. A Multidisciplinary Approach to Conserving Neotropical Migrants in the Ecuadorian Chocó (2008-2010).
- Environmental Protection Agency. The Role of Avian Host Dynamics and Anthropogenic Stressors on the Transmission of West Nile Virus and the Implications for Human Health and Biodiversity (2008-2011).
- Conservation, Food, and Health Foundation. Conservation Training and Education in the Ecuadorian Chocó (2008).
- National Geographic Society. Long-distance Movements and Resource Use by Ceratogymna Hornbills in Central Africa (2008-2009).
- The Rufford Small Grants Foundation. Approaches to Correlating Vectors and Diseases in the Rainforests of Cameroon Using Molecular Genetics and Remote Sensing (2008).
Thomas Dietsch returned from two months of field research in the Red River Delta region of northern Vietnam in January 2008 where he is working on a project monitoring wild birds for avian influenza. He began a second research trip on February 20. This research was made possible through support provided by the Office of Health, Infectious Disease and Nutrition, the Bureau for Global Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Thomas Dietsch gave a presentation on February 16, 2008 at the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference held in McAllen, Texas. About 700 people participated in the meeting. His presentation, “Assessing Conservation Values in Shade-grown Coffee Landscapes: A Model for Market-based Conservation Efforts and Ecosystem Management in a Global Context,” was part of the symposium session on the Value of Shade Coffee to Birds.
Ana Paula Giorgi was selected to give an oral presentation at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers to be held in Boston, Massachusetts from April 15-19, 2008. Her presentation, "Using Species Distribution Modeling to Understand Tropical Birds Metapopulation Dynamics in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil," is part of the Species Distribution Modeling Roundtable Discussion session.
Alex Kirschel received a UCLA Dissertation Year Fellowship for 2008 from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. On March 1, 2008, he gave a presentation at a meeting of the Southern California Animal Behavior Society, held at California State University Long Beach, on “Character Displacement in Tinkerbird Song."
Raul Sedano was chosen to attend a weeklong workshop at the Bodega Marine Laboratory from March 8-15, 2008. The workshop in applied phylogenetics, held each spring at the UC Davis laboratory in Bodega Bay on the Northern California coast, covered topics in biogeography, ecology, conservation biology, phylogenomics, functional morphology, macroevolution, speciation, and character evolution.
Molecular Ecology published a Special Issue in January 2008 entitled “Evolutionary Change in Human-altered Environments.” The papers in the issue are a result of the international summit held at UCLA in February 2007 (see site here). A podcast interview with summit co-organizers and guest editors Thomas Smith and Louis Bernatchez is now available on the Molecular Ecology web site at http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/podcast/mec.asp.
CTR would like to thank the Los Angeles Audubon Society for their recent contribution to CTR’s research project studying the genetics of the Southern California population of Tricolored Blackbirds. Sea & Sage Audubon and Pomona Valley Audubon Society chapters have also contributed to this project. California Audubon has pledged to match the funds donated by the three Audubon chapters. In addition, we would like to thank the people at The Girls in the Vineyard for their donations. If you buy a case of wine from them, they will send a donation of $30 to CTR (please designate CTR as your non-profit organization of choice at the time of purchase).
CTR would like to thank Margery Nicolson for her continuing financial support for CTR’s research projects, most recently for conservation and education projects in the Chocó rainforest in Ecuador. We would like to thank everyone who has donated funds for this important work, including the Los Angeles Audubon Society, as well as those who responded to a mailing of a video describing CTR’s research projects in Ecuador, and those who attended and donated at the fundraising event in February organized by CTR Latin America Director Jordan Karubian.
- Orange County Vector Control District, Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California. Ecological and Anthropogenic Factors Influencing the Distribution and Transmission of West Nile Virus in Vector and Host Populations in Orange County, California
- National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates Supplement. EID: Effects of Deforestation on the Prevalence of Blood-borne Pathogens in African Rainforest Birds
Emily Curd made two trips to Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) during the fall to collaborate with LANL in improving methods for the characterization of avian influenza strains and to test different viral storage buffers.
Jordan Karubian, CTR’s Latin America Director, spent three weeks in Ecuador in November 2007 consulting with the Ecuadorian field team responsible for coordinating CTR’s ongoing project in the Chocó rainforest. This project combines scientific research, conservation education, and training of local residents and university students. Dr. Karubian and a number of his Ecuadorian colleagues traveled to the XXXI Jornadas Nacionales de Biología, a scientific meeting held in Guayaquil, Ecuador, from November 22-23. Three local residents who work as field researchers on the Chocó project presented talks at the meeting. Jorge Olivo spoke on seed dispersal by Long-wattled Umbrellabirds, Domingo Cabrera spoke on timing and extent of fruit production, and Fernando Castillo gave a presentation on seed removal in relation to habitat quality. Talks were also given by Jordan Karubian and by the current project coordinator, Luis Carrasco, as well as by Maria Fernanda Armas, Rocio Monobanda, and Patricio Mena (current and former honors thesis students who worked on the project).
Tom Smith, Dan Blumstein, Allison Alvarado, and Brenda Larison spent three weeks at the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya in October 2007, along with 15 undergraduate students enrolled in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Field Biology Quarter (FBQ) course. Professors Tom Smith and Dan Blumstein taught the class and Allison Alvarado served as a teaching assistant.
Wolfgang Buermann was recently appointed as an adjunct assistant professor at UCLA in the Institute of the Environment and the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. He presented a poster at the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease Principal Investigators Meeting held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from December 2-5, 2007. The meeting was sponsored by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. His poster was entitled “Testing spatial predictions of malaria blood parasites in the Olive Sunbird across Western Africa.”
Emily Curd presented a poster at the Evolution of Infectious Disease Principal Investigators Meeting in Albuquerque entitled, “Avian influenza virus (AIV) detection and subtyping using High Resolution Melting (HRM) QPRC.” Her second poster presentation was on “Rapid subtyping of avian influenza virus strains using fragment analysis.”
Ryan Harrigan presented a talk at the Evolution of Infectious Disease Principal Investigators Meeting in Albuquerque on “Determining the effects of bird migration and anthropogenic change on the distribution and transmission of avian influenza.”
Kevin Njabo received a Burroughs Welcome Travel Scholarship to attend the Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Disease Principal Investigators Meeting in Albuquerque. Kevin presented a talk at the meeting on “Effects of deforestation on avian disease prevalence in Africa.”
Adam Freedman received a Research Award for 2007-2008 from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The role of avian host dynamics and anthropogenic stressors on the transmission of West Nile virus and the implications for human health and biodiversity (2008-2011)
- Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Climate Change, Biodiversity, and Ecosystem Function in the Eastern Andes (2007-2010)
|Tom Dietsch traveled to Vietnam in July for a pre-research planning trip for a new project that will monitor wild birds for avian inflenza in the Red River delta region. The project, entitled “Evaluating disease transmission pathways and host reservoirs for H5N1 avian influenza in domestic and wild bird communities of Viet Nam,” will assess the subtypes and strains of avian influenza across a gradient of human land-use from home gardens to natural wetlands in coastal communities of northern Vietnam. This research was made possible through support provided by the Office of Health, Infectious Disease and Nutrition, the Bureau for Global Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Wildlife Conservation Society.|
|Tom Smith conducted a month of field research in Cameroon this summer collecting samples for avian blood parasite studies. In addition, he conducted research on Black-bellied Seedcrackers (Pyrenestes ostrinus, pictured above) a species of African finch that shows a polymorphism in bill size. Smith began working on seedcrackers in 1983 as part of his Ph.D. dissertation. On this trip he returned to the village of Ndibi, in south central Cameroon, where he has been working for over 20 years. The work is part of a new collaborative study with Dr. Arkhat Abzhanov, from Harvard University, and is aimed at identifying the genes determining bill size in this finch.|
|Kevin Njabo sampled mosquitoes in twelve localities in lowland forest areas in Cameroon from June 15 to September 15 using CO2-baited CDC light and gravid traps. Over 6,000 culicine mosquitoes from 13 genera were collected from these sites, including Coquillettidia mosquitoes, which had never before been reported in this area. These results highlight the diversity of vectors and the possibility of defining new potential vectors, regional differences in vector competence, and the need to conduct further studies to develop effective programs for mosquito control.|
|Ryan Harrigan has joined CTR as a postdoctoral scholar working on the ecological correlates of infectious disease, including West Nile virus and avian influenza. This research will help to determine the role that vector ecology, climatic change, and host-vector dynamics play in the presence and prevalence of infectious diseases within particular environments, with a focus on the transmission of arboviruses within avian hosts (and secondary mammalian hosts, including humans) in North America. Ryan recently received his Ph.D. from Boston University, where his research focused on the phylogeography, population genetics, and hybridization of members of the Mallard complex (genus: Anas).|
|Hilton Oyamaguchi joined the research team at the Center for Tropical Research this Fall. He is a new graduate student from Brazil in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He completed his master’s thesis at the Universidade de São Paulo where he studied the spatial distribution of frogs in the Cerrado, the world’s most biologically rich savanna. His Ph.D. project will utilize frogs as a model to study diversification processes in the Amazonian rainforest.|
|Raul Sedano, from Colombia, recently joined the Center for Tropical Research. He received his master’s degree from San Diego State University, where he was studying the phylogeny and biogeography of mountain tanagers. His Ph.D. research project in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA will focus on Neotropical birds in northwestern South America.|
John McCormack received his Ph.D. in Biology in September 2007 and is leaving UCLA to begin a postdoctoral research position at the University of Michigan in the lab of Dr. Lacey Knowles. His Ph.D. thesis was entitled, “Evolutionary Patterns and Processes at Multiple Spatial and Temporal Scales in a New World Jay.” At the University of Michigan, he will continue studying evolutionary processes in the “sky islands” of Arizona, Colorado, and Mexico.
Tom Smith, Director of the Center for Tropical Research, has assumed additional responsibilities as the Acting Director of the UCLA Institute of the Environment. Mary Nichols, Director of the Institute of the Environment from 2004-2007, was named by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to head the California Air Resources Board. Tom Smith will continue to serve in both positions until a new permanent director for the Institute of the Environment is recruited.
Tom Dietsch presented at two meetings in August 2007. He gave a talk on "Avian influenza and wild birds" to the New World Agriculture and Ecology International Meeting in Santa Cruz, California and gave two presentations at the Ecology Society of America annual meeting in San Jose, California. He spoke on "Evaluating birds and shade tree communities in cacao agricultural landscapes of Cameroon" at the Organized Oral Session on Ecoagriculture: Restoring wild biodiversity, livelihoods, and ecosytem processes in agricultural landscapes and was co-author for a talk on "Landscape constraints on functional diversity in tropical agroecosystems" at the Organized Oral Session on Tropical agroforestry as model systems for ecology.
Allison Alvarado received a conference travel grant from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to attend the Cooper Ornithological Society Annual Meeting held in Moscow, Idaho in June 2007.
Jaime Chaves received a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for Fall 2007 and a Lida Scott Brown Research Award for the 2007-2008 academic year. He also received a conference travel grant from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to attend the VIII Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Maturín, Venezuela, May 13 to 19, 2007, where he gave an oral presentation.
Amy Rogers received a Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dissertation Year Fellowship for 2006-2007.
Ben Wang received a Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Dissertation Completion Fellowship for Summer 2007.
CTR would like to thank Margery Nicolson for her generous on-going financial support for a number of CTR research projects. CTR would also like to thank Gary Morris and the GAIA Foundation for its support for CTR’s International Research and Training Center in Ecuador. In addition, we would like to thank the Sea & Sage Audubon and Pomona Valley Audubon Society chapters for their financial support for CTR’s research project studying the genetics of the Southern California population of Tricolored Blackbirds.
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Hornbill Conservation in Cameroon Cocoa. (2007-2008)
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund. Umbrellabird Conservation in the Chocó. (2007-2008)
- Wildlife Conservation Society. Evaluating Disease Transmission Pathways and Host Reservoirs for H5N1 Avian Influenza in Domestic and Wild Bird Communities of Viet Nam. (2007-2008)
AFRICA (Cameroon and Ghana)
Tom Dietsch returned from a three and a half month research trip to Cameroon on May 1. The purpose of the research was to evaluate potential disease transmission pathways for H5N1 avian influenza in northern Cameroon. This research was made possible through support provided by the Office of Health, Infectious Disease and Nutrition, the Bureau for Global Health, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the Wildlife Conservation Society. While in Cameroon, Tom also advised graduate research by Casey Sanders from Technische Universität München in Freising, Germany, on the foraging ecology of birds in Cameroon's cacao agroforests in collaboration with the Sustainable Tree Crops Program.
Kevin Njabo will travel to Cameroon for 12 weeks, beginning in June 2007, to conduct field research on the vectors for Plasmodium, the parasite responsible for human and avian malaria. As part of CTR’s National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, he will research which mosquito (vector) species are carriers of the parasites.
Henri Thomassen will travel to Cameroon for six weeks in June and July to study the impact of habitat fragmentation on breeding colony connectivity of the threatened Central African rockfowl (Picathartes oreas).
Ravinder Sehgal, Gediminas Valkiunas, and Tony Chasar will travel to Ghana for the month of July. Tom Smith, Tony Chasar, and Dennis Anye Ndeh will spend a month during August and September in Cameroon. They will be carrying out field research for CTR’s NSF grant on the effects of deforestation on blood-borne pathogens in African rainforest birds. They will be collecting blood samples from target species to groundtruth a remote sensing predictive model on the prevalence of disease
LATIN AMERICA (Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Venezuela)
Ana Paula Giorgi will spend two months of the summer, from July 9 to September 9, doing fieldwork in Brazil for her Ph.D. project on the “Application of Remote Sensing and Ecological Niche Modeling: Approach in Restoration and Conservation of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.”
Jordan Karubian, CTR’s Latin America Director, traveled to Ecuador from May 20 to June 17 to conduct field research and consult with CTR’s research team on ongoing conservation, education, and research projects (click here for more information on CTR projects in Ecuador)
Jaime Chaves traveled to Venezuela for a month and a half in May and June to conduct research on speckled hummingbirds in the Cordillera de la Costa montane forests located on the northern coast of Venezuela. He will also conduct sampling in the Andes of Venezuela.
Erin Marnocha joined Professors Greg Grether, Peter Narins and 14 undergraduate students in Nicaragua for the UCLA Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Field Biology Quarter (FBQ) from April 30 to May 19. Erin served as the teaching assistant for Professor Grether’s course on “Field Behavioral Ecology.”
NORTH AMERICA (Mexico)
John McCormack spent three weeks in April with a research team in the Sierra del Carmen region of Mexico studying patterns of divergence in egg color in Mexican Jays along an elevational gradient.
Allison Alvarado received two Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department grants, the Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for Summer 2007, and the Lida Scott Brown Research grant.
Jaime Chaves attended the VIII Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Maturín, Venezuela, May 13 to 19 where he gave an oral presentation on “The role of ecology and geography in shaping the phylogeography of the speckled hummingbird in Ecuador.” He also presented a poster entitled "Standing at the shoulder of giants: the role of the Andean uplift in hummingbird diversification,” at the 10th Annual Biology Research Symposium sponsored by the UCLA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology in May 2007. Jaime was awarded a Doctoral Research Grant in May 2007 from the UCLA Latin American Center.
Ana Paula Giorgi received a Tinker Field Research Grant from the UCLA Latin American Center to carry out her Ph.D. research in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil during the summer of 2007.
Jordan Karubian attended the VIII Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Maturín, Venezuela, May 13 to 19, 2007, where he gave three oral presentations based on his research with colleagues: 1) Lek dynamics and sexual selection in the long-wattled umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger, cotingidae), 2) Causes and consequences of non-random seed dispersal by the long-wattled umbrellabird (Cephalopterus penduliger), and 3) Natural history and conservation of the banded ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus radiolosus).
John McCormack was awarded the 2007 Lasiewski Award in recognition of his outstanding research in Organismic Biology in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He received a Lida Scott Brown Fellowship for Summer 2007. In May 2007, he also received an Explorer’s Club Research Grant and the American Ornithologists’ Union Van Tyne Research Award. John gave an oral presentation at the VIII Neotropical Ornithological Congress in Maturín, Venezuela, held May 13 to 19, on “Genetic differentiation in the Mexican jay (Aphelocoma ultramarina): diversification in the Mexican highlands.” He recently had a first-author paper on Mexican jays accepted for publication in Behaviour. John will be leaving CTR in the fall to accept a postdoctoral position with Dr. Lacey Knowles at the University of Michigan.
Kevin Njabo will attend the 2007 annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, from July 1 to 7. Kevin was awarded a $1,200 travel grant by the Society for Conservation Biology to present a paper on “The speciation and phylogeography of African hill babblers.” At the meeting, he will also give a presentation to the Young Women Conservation Biologists working group.
Shauna Price received a Tinker Field Research Grant from the UCLA Latin American Center to do research in Panama for a month in September to collect ant species for phylogeographic analysis.
- UCLA Academic Senate 2007-2008 Council on Research (COR) Faculty Grants Program: Effects of Deforestation on Disease Prevalence in Neotropical Rain Forest Birds
- Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy: Update of the Santa Monica Mountains Comprehensive Plan
Report on UCLA Institute of the Environment International Summit
The international summit on “Evolutionary Change in Human-altered Environments,” held at UCLA from February 8-10, was attended by 325 people from 21 countries. Sponsored by the UCLA Institute of the Environment, and co-organized by CTR Director Thomas Smith and Professor Louis Bernatchez, the summit brought together more than 50 prominent scientists and policy makers to discuss solutions to the many environmental problems we face. In addition, 104 people presented posters at the summit. Many graduate students and postdoctoral researchers attended this groundbreaking educational event.
The speakers’ abstracts and presentations can be viewed on the summit web site at under the link for “Speaker Presentations.” The abstracts and most of the talks can be accessed by clicking on one of the links next to the speaker’s name. Later this year, Blackwell Publishing will be publishing the proceedings in a special issue of the journal, Molecular Ecology. The publication date will be announced on the summit web site.
New Researchers Join CTR Team
Henri Thomassen, a new CTR postdoctoral scholar, was previously at Leiden University in The Netherlands. Henri is studying the role of sexual selection in allopatric speciation in honeyeaters, as well as working on mapping morphological and genetic patterns as part of CTR’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) project on climate change and biodiversity.
Kevin Njabo, previously at Boston University, and originally from Cameroon, is also a new postdoctoral scholar at CTR. Kevin is working on the ecology and evolution of avian tropical diseases in Africa as part of CTR’s research team for a grant funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Emily Curd has joined the CTR team as a staff research associate. She is working on CTR’s avian influenza research project. She recently received her master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Ryan Harrigan, previously at Boston University, is a new CTR research associate. He is working on a project investigating the ecological changes in bird populations and how these changes affect infectious disease transmission.
CTR Graduate Students Receive Awards
John McCormack received a grant from the Frank M. Chapman Memorial Fund of the American Museum of Natural History to study the speciational history of the New World jay genus Aphelocoma.
Erin Marnocha received an Ecology and Evolutionary Biology departmental conference travel award to present a talk entitled “Anthropogenic habitat alteration affects the strength and form of natural selection in the brown anole (Anolis sagrei)” at the Evolution 2007 meeting, the joint annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Evolution, the Society of Systematic Biologists, and the American Society of Naturalists to be held in Christchurch, New Zealand, in June 2007. She also received a travel award for the meeting from The Society for the Study of Evolution.
Allison Alvarado received a Lida Scott Brown Research Award in Fall 2006 for her study of patterns of evolutionary differentiation in the hermit thrush (Catharus guttatus) in British Columbia.
Ben Wang was awarded the Alwyn Gentry Award for Best Graduate Student Presentation at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation meeting held in Kunming, China, in July 2006 for his presentation on “Repercussions of extirpating mammals: reduced seed removal and dispersal of the Afrotropical tree, Antrocaryon klaineanum (Anacardiaceae).”
Jaime Chaves was awarded the Most Outstanding Graduate Poster Presentation at the Ninth Annual Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Research Symposium, held at UCLA in June 2006, for his poster entitled "The role of geography and ecology in shaping the phylogeography of the speckled hummingbird (Adelomyia melanogenys) in Ecuador."
Contribution for CTR Graduate Student Researcher
CTR would like to thank Margery Nicolson for providing a second year of support for CTR graduate student Jaime Chaves. Jaime is a biologist from Ecuador who is studying the evolution of speckled hummingbirds in South America.
- Wildlife Conservation Society: Evaluating Potential Disease Transmission Pathways for H5N1 Avian Influenza by Domestic and Wildlife Bird Communites in Cameroon.
- Pomona Valley Audubon Society and Sea & Sage Audubon Society: Population of the Tricolored Blackbird in California: are northern and southern populations genetically distinct
UCLA Institute of the Environment to Host International Symposium, February 8-10, 2007
CTR Director Thomas Smith and Professor Louis Bernatchez are the organizers for a symposium entitled Evolutionary Change in Human-altered Environments: An International Summit. Click here for more information.
CTR Awarded NIH/NIAID Avian Influenza Grant
The Center for Tropical Research was recently awarded $2.5 million by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) for a four-year project to study the “Effects of Avian Migration and Anthropogenic Change on the Distribution and Transmission Risks of Avian Influenza.” This research effort targets migratory landbirds in North, Central, and South America.
Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund Names Don Jorge Olivo a Conservation Hero
The Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund (DWCF) selected Don Jorge Olivo as one of eight Conservation Heroes for 2006 and awarded him $1,000. Olivo works as a full-time field biologist with the Center for Tropical Research team at the Mache Chindul Reserve in Ecuador. According to Disney’s press release, Olivo was chosen “for his work as a field researcher, educator, and a community leader helping to protect valuable habitats and species, particularly the Long-wattled Umbrellabird.” Kim Sams, DWCF Manager, said that “the DWCF Conservation Heroes program rewards the dedication of individuals who, often at the risk of personal safety, work tirelessly to save animals, protect habitat and educate the people in surrounding communities.” Click here to read more on Olivo’s work in Ecuador.
Adam Freedman Receives EPA STAR Fellowship
CTR graduate student Adam Freedman received the prestigious Environmental Protection Agency Science to Achieve Results (EPA STAR) fellowship for three years to study mechanisms of diversification in rainforest lizards in West Africa. Adam has completed three field seasons in Cameroon, spending a total 13 months.
CTR Students Awarded Fellowships
CTR graduate students Allison Alvarado, Jaime Chaves, and John McCormack received Lida Scott Brown Fellowships, Adam Freedman received a Quality of Graduate Education Fellowship, and Amy Rogers received a Vavra Fellowship for $6,000 each. Chaves and Ben Wang also received conference travel awards, and Wang received the 2006 Special Faculty Award in recognition of his outstanding service to the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.
Both Rogers and Wang were also awarded UCLA Graduate Division Dissertation Year Fellowships for $17,500. The CTR Lab received the Most Outstanding Laboratory Poster Presentation at the Ninth Annual Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Research Symposium at UCLA.
- National Science Foundation: Evaluating Potential Transmission Pathways of H5N1 by Domestic and Wild Birds in Central Africa
- UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research: Avian Flu Surveillance Sampling of Migratory Passerine Birds in North America During the Spring/Summer of 2006
- Disney Wildlife Conservation Fund: Umbrellabird Conservation in the Chocó
- Conservation, Food & Health Foundation: Conservation Training and Education in the Ecuadorian Chocó
CTR's first Open House!
On May 14th, the Center for Tropical Research held its first open house to welcome all Affiliated Faculty, Senior Research Fellows, and interested members of the UCLA community to meet CTR faculty, postdocs, students and staff. It was an opportunity to update everyone on CTR research projects and international research nodes, as well as to brainstorm new collaborative projects for the future. Judging by the crowd of 75-plus who stopped in, the decibel level of lively discussion, and the empty plates and glasses during the clean-up, a good time was had by all.
On December 20, 2002, a generous gift was made to the Institute of the Environment for the Center for Tropical Research. The gift eventually will create the E.P. and Betty Franklin Endowed Fund in Tropical Conservation. UCLA planned giving staff worked closely with donor Betty Franklin, to establish a Life Estate Gift Annuity. This gift arrangement enables Betty to give a gift of her home of 56 years to The UCLA Foundation while continuing to live in and enjoy it. Betty will receive lifetime annuity payments, and after her lifetime, her gift will benefit the Center for Tropical Research.
CTR gratefully acknowledges the generosity of donor, Betty Franklin. In order to get to know our benefactor a bit more, we asked Betty to give us a little background on her life and interests, and tell us a about her late husband, E.P. Betty graciously responded with the following written account for our newsletter and website:
On April 19, 1917: I was born in Westwood, Lassen County. It's a small California town, near Lake Alamanor, Susanville, and not too far from Nevada and was owned by the Red River Lumber Company and featured one dentist-my dad. I grew up being fascinated with his medical books and planned on eventually doing scientific research. But a talent for acting took precedence and all through grade and high school, I was doing something on stage.
After graduating, my father, now divorced from my mom, insisted that I pursue a higher education. But a friend and I with whom I'd appeared in Bay Area little theater performances, were offered something irresistible. We were invited to join a New York repertory company, founded by leading actors from the famed Moscow Art Theater. A challenging audition was required, and both of us were accepted.
The Stanislavsky Method of acting (still prevalent in theater arts) was what our group featured. It was complex, disciplined-in itself a veritable philosophy for living. In fact, I considered it to be comparable to an academic education. So I was motivated to disappoint my dad and follow my bliss. We studied day and night, day in, day out, for four years-poor and hungry, but dedicated.
Finally our director considered us ready to find a backer for a Broadway presentation, which was accomplished. Then we rehearsed for another full year, before appearing at the Vanderbilt Theater. The play by August Strindberg was mystical and in no way acceptable to the denizens of Manhattan at that time. In other words, it was a huge flop, much publicized in local reviews and not "damned with faint praise", but damned with headlines.
Our group was devastated and destroyed. But with the help of a member of our former group, I was given very brief lines in major radio shows of the time, such as Gang Busters, and Mr. District Attorney. During that period, I got to know very talented actors, many of whom went on to TV and movies. In a while, I found work in the garment district, modeling flimsy coats in the icy New York winters and vice versa in summer months. I wasn't a very good model, but the four brother owners like me and decided I could best serve them by writing their correspondence for which I had more talent.
Eventually, after all the years of struggling, I was homesick and returned to Westwood for a family visit. But getting employment was still a factor, so the Bay Area was my next destination. There I met a radio station salesman, who urged me to consider becoming an off-the-beaten path personality, writing scripts about exploring special shops, to be broadcast on what was then KJBS, where he worked. I followed the suggestion, waited and waited and finally consulted a former Westwood friend, involved in the broadcast industry. He assured me that the KJ format-a very successful one-was exclusively news and music and then and there phoned the manager, Ed Franklin, saying I was on my way to talk with him.
I marched in, submitted my manuscripts, only to learn that what my friend had said was true, even though manager Franklin complimented my efforts. He asked if I could write advertising copy, to which I boldly replied, 'certainly.' It wasn't true, but I had to believe I could do it. And I did-at Ed's best friend's advertising agency. The job went well and I learned valuable new skills which bolstered faith in myself.
Ray Sines, my new boss often predicted that Elizabeth Edwards (my maiden name) and E.P. Franklin would marry. This amazed me because there had been no evidence of that. Finally, the handsome hunk, considered to be a great catch, invited me to dinner and a play, at which time we both made it clear that marriage for us was out of the question, because we wanted to pursue careers. As it turned out, that first date was on July 1st, 1941 and we said our vows on the following August 15th!
After the whirlwind courtship, I was to learn that I'd married a remarkable man, beautiful inside and out. And I was blessed with him, this lovely property which we found together, and 30 shared years until Eepie suddenly passed away on December 4, 1971. He was only 63. Tributes coming to me from many sources, emphasized how respected, admired and loved he was.
We had become passionately involved in environmental matters, triggered when a deer-kill was planned on the Tamalpais game refuge, where our home was and is situated. Because of Eepie's popularity within broadcast and print media, we had important access to them and became increasingly caught up in crusading for a safer environment, freer from toxic substances, especially those from industrial stacks. And we became recognized nationwide, as an effective team.
After my husband's death, I was invited to write for Prevention magazine, briefly, until the editor left for a competitive publication, Let's LIVE. He asked me to come along, which I did, originally specializing in rather staid scientific articles. But it was rewarding to have health professionals thank me for making a rhetorical bridge between scientific jargon and lay persons' understanding of it. When asked to do a more informal column, I was delighted, named it "Of Many Things," and it was published every month for all those years, becoming quite popular.
Writing for Let's LIVE magazine continued from 1974 until just several years ago. I miss the privilege of sharing information, but so many maintenance projects here where I've lived since Halloween in 1947, keep me busy from mid-morning until early next day. Being 85, I've slowed down a bit and everything takes longer. After a five year drought, I began feeding starving deer and raccoons and sometimes foxes-even skunks. Now they all hang out here and I'm totally obligated, so I don't travel, which is no problem. If "civilization" hadn't ruthlessly encroached upon their habitats, feeding them would be wrong, but I feel they're owed a little help. They've become my family-not pets, but great friends. And of course, the wonderful wild birds get special seed and nectar. I also cherish two little dogs-Holly and Ariel.
Now, I'm finding great fulfillment in knowing that this lovely land will serve a good cause, when I pass on. And it was my contact with Professor Thomas B. Smith, of the UCLA Center for Tropical Research-involving several serendipity aspects that assured me it was a green-light decision. Moreover, it was one, I believe, that would be fully endorsed by my husband (and one in which, I think, his spirit rejoices). How urgent it has become that dedicated researchers discover why so many precious species of plants and animals are vanishing, and in so doing, help to both save and restore them!
Various persons from the University have come to visit me and letters-even from the Chancellor-warmly express their appreciation of the gift. I treasure those responses and hope some part of me will be aware, after death, of whatever help has been contributed to the Center for Tropical Research of the UCLA Institute of the Environment.
West African Colleagues Visit CTR Lab
The CTR conservation genetics laboratory hosted a visit from two colleagues from West Africa during October and November, 2002. Dr. Blaise Kadjo and Mr. Bertin Akpatou, researchers at the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, came to the lab to learn various techniques for understanding the molecular genetics of mammal and bird populations in their native country. They have been involved in field studies for a CTR research project focusing on the importance of evolutionary processes in ecological gradients that exist in riverine, montane, savannah and rainforest ecosystems in West Africa. UCLA graduate student, Debra Pires, facilitated training for Blaise and Bertin, who will apply their training to future research that will refine conservation policies and practices in their home country. During their stay in California, they also participated in the CTR workshop on Rainforest Diversification and Conservation, and had the opportunity to visit the UC Berkeley Museum of Vertebrate Zoology.
Blaise Kadjo (left) and Bertin Akpatou at work in the CTR molecular genetics laboratory
CTR Workshop on Rainforest Diversification and Conservation
For the past three years, CTR researchers and collaborating scientists have been working on an NSF-funded project to examine the importance of evolutionary processes in the generation and maintenance of biodiversity in tropical ecosystems. These forces seem especially strong along environmental gradients, such as those that exist between savannah and rainforest in West Africa and along gradients in the Andes.
On November 8th and 9th, CTR convened a gathering at UCLA to discuss the implications of the research findings for conservationof tropical ecosystems. Over forty people attended, including collaborating scientists from Boston University, UC Berkeley, University of Queensland, University of Cocody (Cote d'Ivoire), and JPL/NASA. Scientists gave short presentations on their findings, covering a broad spectrum of taxa (from frogs and lizards to birds and bats). Evidence of microevolutionary change was found in each of these taxa in a variety of morphological and behavioral traits, as well as in molecular genetic structure. Parallel work in Australia, West Africa, and Ecuador showed concordant patterns, indicating that many of the evolutionary processes responsible for generating tropical diversity are similar across continents.
In order to better understand the conservation implications of the research, and to maximize the impact of the research for conservation planning and policy, CTR invited representatives from nongovernmental environmental organizations and the donor community. Representatives from WWF (West Africa), Jatun Sacha (Ecuador), The Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation attended and provided valuable insight and an on-the-ground, practitioner's perspective for how the research can be applied to conservation efforts. A consensus was reached that evolutionary processes needed to be considered in addition to biodiversity 'hotspots', and that 'processes needed to be put on the map'.
Major outcomes of the workshop
Center for Tropical Research workshop participants
A study by CTR postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Ryan Calsbeek, created quite a stir in the popular media upon publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on November 5th, 2002. In Ryan's words:
"My work on side-blotched lizards shows that female mate choice is about both the male¹s territory and his genes. Usually, large males and the best territory go hand in hand because larger males outcompete the smaller ones for the best bachelor pads. However, by experimentally manipulating territory quality, I was able to differentiate between female preferences for males and their resources. My colleague Barry Sinervo and I rearranged the territories of a population of side-blotched lizards, Ula stansburiana. We took rocks good for sheltering and sunning from the territories controlled by larger males and placed them in the territories of smaller males. We then recorded where the females chose to settle and with whom they mated. The females preferred to set up nests in the better territories, even if a smaller male controlled the area. The females, however, also mated with larger males outside of their chosen territory. We used the progeny's DNA to determine paternity, and we found that most male offspring were larger, sired by the larger lizard. Female offspring tended to be smaller and sired by the smaller territory owner. We show that this selective sperm utilization gives the female ultimate control over her mating choice and outcome, thus cementing female mate choice as a powerful form of sexual selection that shapes species over time."
The Associated Press has picked up the story and it can now be seen on CNN, MSNBC, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Post, Discovery Chanel, NPR, among other places. Please visit the following links for details:
CTR facilitates Memorandum of Agreement between UCLA and Ecuadorian University
On August 26, 2002 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Universidad de San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) formalized a cooperative academic agreement between the two institutions. This effort was spearheaded by Dr. Thomas B. Smith (Professor of Biology at UCLA and Director of Center for Tropical Research) and Dr. Santiago Gangotena (President of USFQ), both of whom are shown in the adjacent photo immediately after signing the agreement.
The agreement paves the way for increased collaboration and cooperation between the two prestigious institutions, including exchange of students, professors, and researchers as well as jointly developed academic symposia and curricula. The agreement particularly strengthens ties between the Center for Tropical Research, which is housed in UCLA's Institute of the Environment, and USFQ's Tiputini Biological Station, which is located in the Amazon basin, and the newly opened GAIA institute, on the Galapagos Islands. This will increase the quantity and quality of scientific research projects being conducted at these unique localities, benefiting both institutions and the scientific community in general.
Left: Dr. Santiago Gangotena, President of thr Universidad San Francisco de Quito, signing academic agreement between UCLA and USFQ. Right: Dr. Thomas Smith and Dr. Santiago Gangotena immediately after signing the agreement.