Dr. Fleury's Epic Teaching "Swan Song" December 2018

Dr. Fleury's The Scientific Wonder of Birds

When Dr. Bruce Fleury retired in 2017, he thought his lecturing days were done. But in late 2018, the student-favorite senior professor of the practice emeritus soon found himself pulled out of retirement for one last truly epic gig. It wasn't a hard decision to make when the subject at hand was one of his all-time passions: birds. Dr. Fleury's lecture series, produced by the Teaching Company for their Great Courses series, is called The Scientific Wonder of Birds. It includes 12 half-hour seminars on a range of topics related to birds and are designed to be a companion piece to The National Geographic Guide to Birding in North America. Available on DVD or digital download, this is Dr. Fleury at his finest - complete with mind-blowing science and hilarious quips.

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Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection receives 85,000 new specimens August 17, 2017

Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection

The Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection is the largest of its kind in the United States and this summer they received an additional 85,000 new specimens from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The collection is meticulously maintained by Dr. Hank Bart and his staff at the Tulane University Biodiversity Research Institute (TUBRI). Scientists from across the world rely on collections like TUBRI's to aid in vital research. One notable example in 2015 was its role in identifying the extremely rare species of fish known as the pocket shark.

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Environmental lead could make mockingbirds more aggressive August 15, 2017

Karubian Ribeiro

The historic houses in New Orleans' old neighborhoods are quite charming, but also contribute to high levels of lead found in the environment. Drs. Karubian & Ribeiro are continuing their research on the affects of elevated environmental lead levels on local mockingbird populations. They've established a correlation between the lead levels in the environment across different areas of town and blood samples taken from birds in those specific areas. One concern that they are exploring is whether exposure to heightened lead leads increase aggressiveness of the birds.

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Luke Browne of Karubian Lab wins OTS Student Paper Award  March 30, 2017

Luke Browne

Luke Browne, a student in Dr. Jordan Karubian's research lab, recently defended his PhD thesis. An article from his thesis, which was published in the journal Ecology Letters this past fall, has recently been awarded the 8th Annual Student Paper Award by the Organization of Tropical Research.

The article, "Frequency-dependent selection for rare genotypes promotes genetic diversity of a tropical palm," described how the rarity of an individual's genotype could be used to predict patterns of survival of a tropical palm tree, and by extension, patterns of genetic diversity. This study adds to the growing evidence that genetic variation among individuals is an understudied but important aspect of tropical forest regeneration.

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Understanding how marsh grass breaks down oil  January 10, 2017


The Van Bael lab has experiments underway at EEB's greenhouse to study the microbes that live in the marsh grass Spartina alterniflora. Endophytic bacteria and fungi dwelling within Spartina may break down oil rendering it less toxic. By identifying the specific endophyte species that are most successful at breaking down oil, Dr. Van Bael hopes to help these grasses better defend the Gulf Coast against oil spills in the future.

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2016 Tulane Magazine highlights several EEB professors  December 12, 2016

Tulane Magazine - Dec 2016

The December 2016 issue of the Tulane Magazine features various EEB faculty members in several articles centered on a theme of water. EEB faculty member Dr. Michael Blum is the director of the ByWater Institute, an interdisciplinary research center focusing on issues related to water in the environment: from coastal erosion, to effects of Katrina flooding, to recovering from the BP oil disaster. An article on P. 14 highlights the ByWater Institute’s new $5.5 million facility that was unveiled this fall as well as specific research projects that fall under the group’s umbrella, including the Blum Lab’s post-Katrina rat population modeling.

Louisiana’s luscious wetlands attract a vast diversity of birds, a dream come true for ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. An article on P. 27 profiles ornithologists Dr. Tom Sherry, who won the Louisiana Ornithological Society’s top prize for 2016, and Dr. Donata Henry, who also received a distinguished award from the LOS in 2016. The two discuss the incredible relationship between the coastal wetlands environment and the birds who make it their homes, emphasizing the importance of habitat conservation.

Dr. Tim McLean, a marine microbiologist, met artist Pippin Frisbie-Calder as part of A Studio in the Woods’ “Flint and Steel” program, which pairs artists with faculty members in non-arts disciplines. On P. 11 read about how Dr. McLean’s work studying phytoplankton of the coastal wetlands inspired Frisbie-Calder to create some amazing artistic interpretations of the otherworldly-looking microbes.

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Rat research featured in Discovery Channel special  October 31, 2016


Discovery Channel's new TV special "Rats" by documentary veteran Morgan Spurlock plays on humanity's fear of the rodents just in time for Halloween. Dr. Michael Blum and members of his lab are featured in the program discussing their research modeling rat populations in post-Katrina New Orleans. The lab takes the science of using genetic methods to evaluate rat population structure, dispersal and effective population size seriously. It just so happens that the process of trapping rats and performing necropsies on them in order to collect the genetic material for study makes for pretty creepy TV, too!

The special is now available on Netflix or on Discovery Channel's website (with a cable subscription login).

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Dr. Heins Inducted as a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London  June 21, 2016

Dr. David Heins

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.

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Dr. Sherry & Dr. Henry Honored by La. Ornithological Society  April 23, 2016

Sherry - LOS George H Lowery award Apr 2016

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!

History of White-crowned Sparrow Research in San Francisco  January 20, 2016

White crowned sparrow - singing - small

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.

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