ATBC Election Results

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Election Results are in!
Congratulations to our new officers:

President Elect:

Dr. Kaoru Kitajima
Professor ,Tropical Forest Resources and Environments
Division of Forest and Biomaterial Science
Graduate School of Agriculture
Kyoto University

Councillors (2015-2018):

Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz
Associate Professor in Tropical Conservation Ecology,
University of Nottingham
Malaysia Campus, Malaysia

Dr. Lisa C. Davenport
Associate in Research
Duke University Center for Tropical Conservation

Dr. Saara J. Dewalt
Associate Professor
Department of Biological Sciences
Clemson University

Dr. Bettina M. J. Engelbrecht
Professor for Plant Ecology
University of Bayreuth, Germany

Biographical information follows:

KAORU KITAJIMA. Currently: Professor, Graduate School of Agriculture, Kyoto University, Japan; Courtesy Professor, Department of Biology, University of Florida; Research Associate: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute); Financial Committee Member, Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC); Country Representative for Japan, ATBC Asia-Pacific Chapter; Governing Board Member, Japanese Society for Tropical Ecology; Associate Editor, Functional Ecology; Governing Board Member, Kyoto International Student House. Formerly: Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor of Botany and Biology, University of Florida (1997-2013); ATBC Treasurer (2009-2013); ATBC Councilor (2007-2009); Program Chair, the joint ATBC-OTS 50th Anniversary Meeting. Education: B.S. from University of Tokyo (Botany); M.S. and Ph.D from University of Illinois (Botany). She is known for her comparative work of functional traits of seedlings and adult trees in tropical forests, in particular, the first demonstration of the functional basis for growth-survival in tropical tree seedlings. Her work has been conducted mainly in Panama and other Neotropical locations, but after moving to Kyoto University recently, she is actively engaged in new research collaborations and tropical ecology education in East and South East Asia.

Personal Statement: Tropical ecosystems and their biological diversity continue to be threatened under climate change, land-use changes, and overexploitation of natural resources. More than ever, free exchange of solid scientific knowledge, as well as collaborative networks of scientists across disciplinary boundaries, are needed for formulating effective strategies for conservation of the rich tropical biota and for the well being of the people who depend on them. I believe that as an international academic society, ATBC is uniquely positioned to expand its role in networking regional groups of scientists and to catalyze capacity building of young scientists in many tropical countries. In the recent past, I have enjoyed supporting the main missions of ATBC as a councilor, Treasurer, and the 50th Anniversary Meeting Chair. My experience should be useful in building on the legacy of the 50 years of the Association and moving forward. As I am now based in Asia, I am particularly interested in further strengthening the effort of ATBC in networking tropical biologists and ecosystem scientists between the New and Old World tropics.


AHIMSA CAMPOS-ARCEIZ. Associate Professor in Tropical Conservation Ecology, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Malaysia (2011 to present); Director of Mindset, the University of Nottingham’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Tropical Environmental Studies (since 2014); ad-hoc member of SCB-Asia board (since 2014); Chair of the 3rd regional meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, Asia Section (SCBAsia2014, 2014); Principal Investigator of the Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME, www.meme-elephants.org; 2011 to present); Research Associate, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, USA (2011-2014); Post-doc at the National University of Singapore (NUS, 2009-2010); PhD, University of Tokyo (2009). I have reviewed manuscripts for 24 scientific journals and I received an ‘outstanding contributor in reviewing’ award from the journal Biological Conservation; ATBC member since 2006.

Personal statement: I am a conservation ecologist with social science envy; and an optimist, in spite of working in a region with a high rate of tropical deforestation and biodiversity loss. My main research interest lies in the behavior, ecology, and conservation of Asian megafauna, particularly elephants, which I have studied for over 10 years. I study the ecological role of large animals in seed dispersal and work on evidence-based strategies to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts. I live and work in Peninsular Malaysia but have also done work in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan, Mongolia, and other Asian countries. Although I’m an ecologist by training, my work is increasingly leaning towards the social sciences because I believe that understanding human behavior is the main challenge for conservation scientists in the 21st century. In Malaysia I work closely with the government at local, state, and national level; and I lead initiatives to mainstream interdisciplinary conservation science. I believe that my job is not merely documenting the many bad things happening in Southeast Asian natural ecosystems but rather offering solutions for the future we want – a future in which elephants will continue to disperse the seeds of wild mangoes in primary rainforests of Southeast Asia. I would like to bring a Southeast Asian, optimistic, proactive, and highly interdisciplinary perspective to the ATBC council.


LISA C. DAVENPORT. Associate in Research, Duke University Center for Tropical Conservation (2009 to present); Post-Doc, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Division of Migration Studies, Konstanz, Germany (2008-2009); Consultant, World Bank Africa Technical Department (1994-1995); Research Associate, Duke University Center for Tropical Conservation (1996-2004); BA (physics and African studies) Colorado College (1990); Masters in Environmental Management Duke University (1994); PhD (biology) University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (2008); Co-editor of one multi-authored book, “Making Parks Work” (2002). Professional Societies: Co-founder of Parkswatch, Member of IUCN Otter Specialist Group, ATBC, Association for Animal Behaviour. I have carried out research in Tanzania, Gabon, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, and Bolivia. Research interests: Animal behavior, protected area management, tropical wetlands, alternative states ecology, movement ecology and conservation of migratory animals.

Personal Statement: I have long had a fascination with tropical animals and landscapes, and my favorite research involves observing animals in natural habitats. I am a passionate advocate for conservation of animals and wilderness, and I have worked to both generate scientific information and promote tropical conservation where able. Long interested in African ecology, a portion of my work has been to compare African and Amazonian ecosystems and organisms. Most of my recent professional work, however, has focused on Amazonia in a variety of projects studying both forest and freshwater ecosystems. Since 1997 I have worked annually in the Manu National Park, Peru, studying some of its rarest and most endangered animals such as the Giant Otter and the Orinoco Goose. Currently I am working to expand my study of intra-tropical bird migration that began with the Orinoco Goose to improve our understanding of little-known patterns of intra-tropical migrant bird movements across South America, employing new advances in satellite telemetry technology. As a councilor, I would look for ways to increase the involvement of the Society in tropical Africa. I would also advocate for opportunities for young field researchers from tropical countries where field research still constitutes an important training ground for emerging scientists and conservation practitioners.


SAARA J. DEWALT. Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University (2012-present); Assistant Professor at Clemson (2005-2012); Huxley Research Fellow in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University (2003-2005); PhD in Biological Sciences from Louisiana State University (2003); Organization for Tropical Studies “Four Forests” course (Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Brazil; 2001); Fulbright Fellow in Bolivia (1994-1995); AB in Biology from Brown University (1994). Member of the Biotropica Editorial Board (2012-present). I am a plant population and community ecologist, and my research interests include studying exotic, invasive plants in their native and introduced ranges; liana species diversity and distributions; tropical forest succession; and forest dynamics. Much of my work involves a global perspective, and I have conducted research in temperate and tropical forests of North America, South America, and Asia (Borneo, Peninsular Malaysia, China) as well as on islands in the Hawaiian archipelago and the Caribbean.

Personal statement: I think that to understand and conserve tropical systems requires scientific evidence, a global perspective, as well as local involvement. ATBC has promoted science and conservation efforts around the world, and I would continue to support these endeavors as an ATBC Councilor. I would also continue to promote Biotropica as a premier outlet for high-quality research on tropical ecology and conservation and support attendance by students and early-career scientists at the annual meetings, which are key to sharing research and personal experiences that promote a global understanding of tropical systems.


BETTINA M. J. ENGELBRECHT. Professor for Plant Ecology at the University of Bayreuth, Germany (2009 to present), Research Associate at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama (2003 – present), Assistant Professor in the Biology Department at San Francisco State University (2008 – 2009), Research Scientist in the Botany Department at the University Kaiserslautern, Germany, based at STRI, (2004 – 2007), Post-doc at the University of Utah, based at STRI (1999 – 2003). PhD University of Darmstadt, Germany (1999). Service: Vice-director of the Bayreuth Center for Ecological and Environmental Research (2012 – present), Member of the advisory board of the Tropical Ecology Society (gtoe) (2009 – present), Associate Editor: Trees (2007 – 2012), Journal of Ecology (2007 – 2009), Oecologia (2014 – present). Reviewer for 34 journals, including Biotropica; Research interests: physiological plant ecology, functional ecology, tropical ecology, community ecology

Personal statement: The diversity of tropical forests still awes me. In the face of global change, I believe that we must take on the challenge of understanding why species react differently to environmental conditions and changes in order to understand which of the species, which of the forests and which processes are most at risk. This will improve our understanding of tropical forests under current and future conditions, and inform forest conservation and management. My work is explicitly linking plant physiology with population and community ecology to address some of the pending questions. I am interested in working towards a better integration of tropical biology and conservation with other relevant disciplines of tropical research such as climatology, hydrology, paleontology, and soil sciences as well as social sciences.