center for tropical research january 2008 newsletter

Center for Tropical Research January 2008 Newsletter

Feature Article

Mpala Research Centre: A Unique Resource for Field Research in East Africa
by Maraget Kinnaird, Ph.D., Director, Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

Field Report

Accousit Communication Systems of “Ultrasonic” Frogs
by Victoria Arch, Graduate Student, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Center for Tropical Research, Institute of the Environment, UCLA


Field Research Trips

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.

Awards, Presentations, and Appointments

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)

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