Research & Conservation

Center for Tropical Research (CTR) senior scientists, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students are conducting research on four continents to understand and conserve biodiversity, particularly in the tropics. See the Research Areas below to learn more about current CTR projects.

Special zebra project request: Photos of zebras are needed for a CTR research study on the evolution of stripe variation in African plains zebra. Read more.

Research Areas and Publications


Studying endangered or threatened populations and developing strategies to preserve and protect the diversity of plants and animals worldwide.

Conservation genetics encompasses the fields of ecology, molecular biology, population genetics, landscape genetics, landscape ecology, mathematical modeling, and evolutionary systematics. Projects include studies of birds and plants in Africa, the South Pacific, and in North and South America. Click here to learn more.

Coral Reef Conservation

Understanding the origins of marine biodiversity and using this information to help guide marine conservation.

Conservation and landscape genetic approaches are integrated with geospatial modelling of physical oceanography. Projects focus on the coral reefs of the Coral Triangle, particularly in Indonesia, and include substantial capacity building in both the United States and Indonesian scientific communities. Click here to learn more.

Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon

Biodiversity research in the Dja Biosphere Reserve, Cameroon.

During the past 20 years, we have been conducting research in the Dja Biosphere Reserve and adjacent areas focused on the role of vertebrate seed dispersers, the impacts of hunting on vertebrate populations and the population genetics of the trees they disperse, mechanisms of speciation, and disease research. Click here to learn more.

Ecology and Evolution

Understanding the importance of interactions among individuals, such as communication, mating preferences, and nesting biology, in evolutionary change

Projects include studies of lizards in the Bahamas and birds in Cameroon, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, and the Pacific Islands. Click here to learn more.

Evolution of Resource Polymorphisms

Research on how resource polymorphisms are maintained in natural populations.

Projects focus on the bill polymorphism in African seedcrackers (Pyrenestes) and the genes involved in determining bill size and shape. Click here to learn more.

Evolutionary Change in Human-altered Environments

Investigating how human activities are affecting the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain diversity on the planet.

CTR researchers are documenting the consequences of human-induced changes in evolutionary processes as well as studying ways to mitigate these consequences. Click here to learn more.

Infectious Diseases

Investigating the link between biodiversity and disease.

Projects in Africa focus on evaluating potential disease transmission pathways for avian influenza in domestic and wild rainforest and savanna bird species. In North and South America studies are examining avian influenza and West Nile virus in migratory birds. Click here to learn more.

Population, Stucture, and Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds

Studies designed to understand the patterns of connectivity between breeding and wintering populations using genetic and isotopic markers, the evolutionary significance of migratory divides, and the factors responsible for population declines.

Projects focus on migratory birds throughout North and South America. Click here to learn more.

Rainforest Biodiversity and Speciation

Examining the mechanisms of speciation in rainforest vertebrates and approaches to identifying regions important for conservation based on ecological and evolutionary process and pattern.

Projects include studies of rainforest birds, reptiles, small mammals, and bats in Africa and South America. Click here to learn more.

Rainforest Restoration and Seed Dispersal

Examining the role of seed-dispersing mammals and birds in the maintenance of rainforest tree diversity and new approaches to rainforest restoration.

Projects include studies of vertebrates and tree communities in rainforests and agroforests in Cameroon, Ecuador, and Brazil. Click here to learn more.

Species Distribution Modeling Using Remote Sensing

Integrating remote sensing data from multiple National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites and sensors in species distribution models to quantify biological habitats based on the presence of species and relevant ecological and evolutionary processes.

Projects include modeling of present-day species' distributions in biodiversity hotspots in Central Africa and South America, predicting their responses to climate change, and studies of evolutionary changes in human-altered environments. Click here to learn more.

CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at (310) 206-6234, or by email at Visitors are always welcome.

Back to Top