Professor & Chair of the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Dr. David Heins was inducted as a fellow of prestigious Linnean Society of London at a ceremony held at Harvard University in May. This is the first time such an event has ever been held outside of the UK.
The Society, founded in 1788 and named for the "father of taxonomy" Carolus Linnaeus, has inducted some of the most prominent biologists over the years, including Charles Darwin. In 1858, papers by Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Wallace were presented at the Linnean Society outlining the theory of Natural Selection for one of the first times in public. To this day the Linnean Society's membership is made up of scientists from around the world who are champions in the field of natural history.
Dr. Heins was selected for his work studying the fishes of North America, including the life histories of darters and minnows in the Northern Gulf Coastal Plain and of pupfishes in the Southwestern U.S. He has also worked extensively in the lakes of South-Central Alaska studying the threespine stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. In addition to studying the life-history evolution of the stickleback, Dr. Heins has also conducted research regarding the host-parasite relationship between the fishes and the cestode parasite Schistocephalus solidus.
Congratulations to Dr. Heins for being selected as a fellow of the Linnean Society of London for your years of work in the field of natural history.
The Louisiana Ornithological Society honored two EEB professors at this year's LOS Spring Meeting in Cameron.
Dr. Thomas Sherry was selected to receive LOS' top honor, the George H. Lowery Award, for his work studying the populations, ecology and conservation of Neotropical-Nearctic migrating birds. Dr. Sherry has been involved in research related to the habitats of Louisiana migrants and nesters such as Swainson's Warbler and the American Swallow-tailed Kite, the impact of crawfish farming and heavy metal contamination on Louisiana's colonial nesting wading birds and the prey selection of tropical migrants such as the American Redstart. Dr. Sherry is pictured here receiving the George H. Lowery award at the meeting on April 23rd.
Dr. Donata Henry was selected as one of three recipients of the LOS President's Award for her contributions to Louisiana's nesting bird research and conservation. Dr. Henry established the Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survival (MAPS) station in the Pearl River WMA, which engages local residents and students in bird banding to study populations and conservation. She not only has conducted research related to the the impact of intense forest management and storm disturbances on Swainson's Warbler and other breeding birds, but she also encourages interest in, and conservation of, birds through her hands-on classes at Tulane. Unfortunately, Dr. Henry was unable to attend the ceremony because she had already scheduled a field trip for her Natural History of Louisiana class prior to learning of her award. Fittingly, though, the class spotted some amazing birds that day including Magnolia Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Louisiana Waterthrush, Gray Kingbird, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Least Bittern, Reddish Egret, Snowy Plover, Marbled Godwit, American Golden-Plover, American Oystercatcher and Ruddy Turnstone
Congratulations to Dr. Sherry and Dr. Henry!
A recent article in Bay Nature magazine chronicles the parallel histories of the birdsong of the white-crowned sparrows in San Francisco’s Presidio, and the 50 years of research (and counting) that scientists have devoted to it. EEB’s own Dr. Elizabeth Derryberry is a key player in this story having been able to track down an archive of notes and recordings from as early as the 1960s. Based on these data, her lab has already contributed to studies suggesting that the urban birds have increased the frequency of their songs to be better heard over the urban din. On-going research by Dr. Derryberry’s lab, including thesis work by PhD candidate Jenny Phillips, is looking at what the Presidio birds’ newer higher-frequency songs means in terms of sexual selection and communication.
Sunshine Van Bael and her team were awarded $1.58 million to study how endophytic bacteria living in roots of Spartina alterniflora (smooth cordgrass) help break down oil. Smooth cordgrass is the plant species that helps build and maintain our coasts, and is often the plant that is first affected in an offshore oilspill. The research team includes Michael Blum and Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Tulane University, as well as John Pardue (LSU) and Claudia Gunsch (Duke University). They hope to find ways that we can inoculate plants with oil-degrading bacteria and have the bacteria be delivered by plant roots to buried pockets of oil.
The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is pleased to announce promotions recently approved by the Dean of the School of Science and Engineering for several faculty members.
Dr. Jordan Karubian and Dr. Caroline "Caz" Taylor have been promoted to Associate Professor.
Dr. Bruce Fleury and Dr. Donata Henry have been promoted to Senior Professor of the Practice.
Congratulations to you all!
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently accidentally came across a very rare fish: the pocket shark. The NOAA researchers found it among deep sea specimens collected off the coast of Louisiana as part of a sperm whale feeding study. This is the second specimen of pocket shark ever found, and the first since it was discovered in 1979 off the coast of Peru. Because of its rarity, the NOAA researchers enlisted the help of Dr. Hank Bart and Dr. Mike Doosey at the Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute, who used the extensive resources of the Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection to identify the specimen's genus as Mollisquama. The pocket shark specimen will remain at the TUBRI's Suttkus Collection for further study and research.
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