2014 Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology (gtö) “Tropical Ecosystems – Between Protection and Production”

In 2014, the Technische Universität München (TUM) will host the Annual Conference of the Society for Tropical Ecology (Gesellschaft für Tropenökologie, gtö), focusing on Tropical Ecosystems – Between Protection and Production. The conference (www.gtoe-conference.de) will run from February 25 to 28, 2014 in Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany. The conference aims at maximizing interactions among scientists of all disciplines and backgrounds who are interested in tropical ecology, biodiversity and conservation. Read more…

Annual Symposium – Call for abstracts – Climate Change in Tropical Developing Regions

The Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation

Department of Environmental Studies
Antioch University New England, Keene, NH
Symposium theme: Climate Change in Tropical Developing Regions:

Monitoring change in ecosystems, advances in adaptation strategies, assessing biodiversity extinction risk, understanding global health issues, and managing carbon markets
Date: Saturday, November 9th, 2013
Awareness and action on climate change has increased in areas where population growth and urbanization have a significant impact in many tropical developing countries. Not only does climate change have an effect on the overall development of these countries, but it is expected to have significant impacts on food systems, human and wildlife health,
biodiversity and ecosystem services, aquatic systems, natural resources, and local and global economies. The need for monitoring, research, development of adaption and mitigation approaches, education, policies, and capacity building initiatives is urgent. The purpose of this symposium is to bring together professionals, scholars, researchers, students and practitioners with differing backgrounds in economics, politics, the social and natural sciences, and business and management to explore the effects of climate change on tropical developing regions and approaches to manage and adapt to these changes.
Call for Abstracts:  The Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CTEC) at Antioch University is currently accepting abstracts for oral presentations that address the following goals:
– To give symposium attendees the opportunity to learn about what climatechange means for tropical regions, and new approaches in monitoring, adaptation, and mitigation.
-To explore how climate change influences ecosystem functions and the conservation of biodiversity and how to overcome these influences through adaptation or mitigation strategies-To address how in the complex web of stakeholders, the needs of local communities can be protected and met, especially in areas of low employment and/or poverty- To explore the role of non-profit organizations as a bridge between local community needs and biodiversity conservation in the tropics in the face of climate change-To provide examples of current global health issues that are the result of climate change in the tropics

Submission Guidelines:

For each submission (multiple submissions considered) please include:
1.     The symposium goal you wish to address (may be more than one)
2.     A 300 word or less abstract of the presentation
3.     Complete contact information:  name, affiliation(s), address, phone number, and email
4.     Proposed format of your presentation along with two to three potential discussion questions related to your submission

About CTEC:

The Center for Tropical Ecology and Conservation (CTEC) http://www.centerfortropicalecology.org/, part of the Environmental Studies Department at Antioch University New England http://www.antiochne.edu promotes the sustainable and just use of tropical ecosystems by training conservation leaders, conducting conservation research with partner organizations, and serving as an educational resource for the New England region.All submissions should be sent electronically to the symposium coordinator:

Katelynn Frei

Subject:  Submission 2013 Symposium

Deadline:  September 1, 2013 (or until spaces are full)

Al Gentry Award 2013 – Best Student Poster Presentation

Dulce_Rodriguez-MoralesThe Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation presents the Alwyn Gentry Award for the Best Student Papers each year at its Annual Meeting.

In 2013, the Alwyn Gentry Award for the best student oral presentation was given to Ms. Dulce Rodríguez-Morales from the Instituto de Ecología A. C., Carretera antigua a Coatepec 351, El Haya, Xalapa 91070, Veracruz, México.

Florivory on the floral buds and its effect on floral display in Chamaecrista chamaecristoides in a Mexican dune system

Dulce Rodríguez-Morales, Armando Aguirre-Jaimes, José G. García-Franco
Contact : dulce.rodriguez.morales89@gmail.com

Dulce Rodriguez-Morales

Chamaecrista chamaecristoides plants with yellow flowers in La Mancha, Veracruz. (© J. García-Franco)

Abstract. Florivory has a direct effect on plant reproduction by reducing the frequency of visitors and the number of available flowers. This effect can be greater on plants with sexual dimorphism (i.e.dioecious, monoecious, enantiostily). Chamaecrista chamaecristoides is a pioneer plant from dune ecosystems that has flowers with enantiostily.Flowering is short (15 days) and flowers live for one day. Plants produce a lot of buttons; many of them are damaged partially or totally by herbivores,affecting the floral display and the number of flowers available. Wasps are also a source of damage when they pierce flower buds to extract weevil larvae found inside. We evaluated the damage caused by the wasp and weevil larvae on the flowering of C. chamaecristoides. The hypothesis is that a large number of buttons are damaged this way damaged and this has a negative effecton the number of flowers. During the flowering season (August 2012), was quantified the number of buttons in five categories of damage, distributed in 10 patches located along the beach at Biological Station in La Mancha. Result show that almost half of the buttons have some level of florivory (56% intact, 44% damaged). The chopped damage category was the most frequent (54%), followed by staining category (24%), suggesting tissue oviposition and suction by weevil. The categories hole, cut and dry buttons (4%, 8% and 10%, respectively) indicate the emergence of adult insects of Curculionidae. In general, intact flowers were more numerous than the damaged (75% and 25%, respectively), however, the proportion was similar for floral morph (left: intact 37%, 13% damaged: right: intact 38%, damaged 12%). In conclusion, florivory in C. chamaecristoides reduces the number of flowers available during the flowering period, however, does not changeout crosing opportunities due the proportion of 1:1 is maintained floral morphs. PDF

More about Dulce Rodriguez-Morales´s study

I am very interested in the biotic interactions, in this regard have been conducting research in the Mexican tropics. One of the sites where work is La Mancha Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. In this place, in the wetland area, assess how the florivory affects the floral visitors and reproductive success of lancifolia (Alismataceae). The findings of this research suggest that there is a negative effect on the frequency of flower visitors, by modifying the original morphology of the flowers, with negative consequences on the reproductive success (fruit set and seed set). In this same place, but in the coastal dunes, in collaboration with José García-Franco and Armando Aguirre, both researchers at the Instituto de Ecología A. C., develop the project in which we evaluate the florivory in Chamaecrista chamecristoides.


Flowers of Sagitaria lancifolia with floral visitors (© A. Aguirre)

Another site where I work is in the tropical rain forest of Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz, studying the relationship between plants and ants, in this project, we describe the morphology and anatomy of extrafloral nectaries of more than 60 species of plants, this project also includes the construction of complex networks between plants and ants species associated with these. This project is in collaboration with Armando Aguirre, Guillermo Angeles (Institute of Ecology A. C.) and Rosamond Coates (IB-UNAM).

Extrafloral nectaries of red color in Heteropterys laurifolia with ants (© A. Aguirre).

Extrafloral nectaries of red color in Heteropterys laurifolia with ants (© A. Aguirre).

I am currently in the Master Program in the Universidad Veracruzana (Instituto de Neuroetología). I will develop a related research about of the prey behavior of spiders (Thomisidae) that mimic the colors of the flowers, and their effect on the reproductive success in three plant species in La Mancha. This project is supervised by Victor Rico-Gray (Universidad Veracruzana) and José García-Franco, in collaboration with William Eberhard (Universidad de Costa Rica).

Spider (Thomisidae) on the inflorescence of Palafoxia lindenii (© A. Aguirre).

Spider (Thomisidae) on the inflorescence of Palafoxia lindenii (© A. Aguirre).

Al Gentry Award 2013 – Best Student Oral Presentation

Maria Natalia UmanaThe Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation presents the Alwyn Gentry Award for the Best Student Papers each year at its Annual Meeting.

In 2013, the Alwyn Gentry Award for the best student oral presentation was given to Ms. Maria Natalia Umaña from Department of Plant Biology & Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.

Rarity and functional diversity: Do rare tree species occupy the periphery of trait space?
María Natalia Umaña, Min Cao, Brian J. Enquist, Zhanqing Hao, Robert Howe, Liuxiang Lin, Xiaojuan Liu, Keping Ma, Xiangcheng Mi, Jill Thompson, María Uriarte, Xugao Wang, Amy Wolf, Jie Yang, Jess K. Zimmerman & Nathan G. Swenson.
Contact: umanamar@msu.edu


El Yunque rainforest in Puerto Rico (© Roxy Cruz).

Abstract. The causes of variation in relative species abundance have been poorly understood but they are critical to understand the mechanisms driving species coexistence.Hypotheses based on niche partitioning, propose that rare species take advantage of scarce resources that are not exploited by common species;resulting from rare species being ecologically dissimilar from common species.To test this hypothesis, we evaluated plant functional traits as a proxy of ecological performance. Our objective is to evaluate the contribution of rare species to the functional diversity (FD) in different plant communities along a gradient of species diversity. If rare species are functionally dissimilar from common species we expect that they contribute importantly to the functional diversity of the total community. We compiled a dataset comprising six functional traits: leaf area, specific leaf area, leaf nitrogen content, leaf phosphorus content, wood density and seed mass, from eight forest dynamic plots from Asia and the Americas (1055 tree species in total). To evaluate the contribution of rare species to community functional diversity, we performed a trend analysis, where we first calculated a standardized effect size for two FD metrics along the species rank abundance. Second, we quantified whether rare species contribute more to community FD than expected. Supporting our prediction, we found that rare species contributed a higher than expected amount of FD to tree communities with species richness values spanning an order of magnitude. These results suggest that rare species are key contributors of FD in forested ecosystems and perhaps their functioning. Because of their restricted occurrence and low abundance, rare species are particularly vulnerable to habitat disturbance and our results therefore highlight the importance of considering rare species in future species and functional diversity conservation strategies.

More about María Natalia Umaña’s study

I have a BA in Biology and a MA in Biological Science from the Universidad de los Andes in Colombia. I am currently doing my PhD at Michigan State University. Being born and raised in Colombia, I was lucky enough to study biology in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, thus greatly influencing my interest in tropical plant diversity. Currently, my interest is focused on understanding the processes that underlie and maintain diversity and abundance in species rich plant communities.

Recent articles

  • Umaña M. N., Norden N., Cano A. & Stevenson P. 2012. Maria_Natalia_Umana-Bignonia-corymbosa_Determinants of plant community assembly in a mosaic of landscape units in central Amazonia: ecological and phylogenetic perspectives. PLoS ONE 7(9): e45199. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045199.
  • Umaña M. N., Stevenson P, Hurtado A. B., Correa D. & Medina I. 2011. Dispersal syndromes among three landscape Units in Colombian lowland Amazonia. Journal of Plant Reproductive Biology. 3: 155-159.
  • Umaña M. N., Stevenson P., Alcántara S., Lohmann L. 2011. Bignonia corymbosa (Bignoniaceae): A plant that deceives their floral visitors. Journal of Plant Reproductive Biology. 3: 15-22.

Honorary Fellow, ATBC 2013, Dr. Rodrigo Gámez Lobo

“In 1954 he joined the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Costa Rica (UCR) where he found his “niche” in the field of plant virology. He earned his Master of Science (M.Sc.) at the University of Florida, USA. Then he pursued post-graduate studies at the University of London, England, and completed his doctorate (PhD) in virology at the University of Illinois, USA, in 1967.”

Rodrigo_-Gamez-Lobo-HF-2013-2“On his return, he continued his work at UCR. At this institution, he was the first director of the School of Plant Science, the first Vice Chancellor for Research, and a member of the first Council of Post-Graduate Studies System and the Electronic Microscopy Unit. At that time, he also actively participated in the creation of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICIT) and State Distance Education University (UNED). But his main contribution was the creation of a virology laboratory, which later became the current Molecular and Cellular Biology Research Center (CIBCM) at UCR, of which he was first director in 1976.”

“In 1983, he was awarded the Dr. Bernard Houssay Inter-American Science Prize, by the Organization of American States (OAS), for his contribution to the scientific development of Costa Rica. In 1986, Rodrigo Gámez was named presidential adviser on natural resources and biodiversity.”

Deborah A. Clark, Rodrigo Gámez Lobo, Daniel H. Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs. (© Tropicalbio.org)

Deborah A. Clark, Rodrigo Gámez Lobo, Daniel H. Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs. (© Tropicalbio.org)

“Two years later, he coordinated the Planning Commission of the National Biodiversity Institute, which recommended the government to create a state biodiversity institute that would have a high degree of autonomy. However, the government was unable to implement the idea, reason for which Dr. Gámez and other members of the committee chose to make it happen themselves and created a private non-profit association. This way, the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) was born, an institution to which Rodrigo Gámez has dedicated 15 years of his life as Director General and President. His tireless work towards learning, conserving and sustainably using the biodiversity of Costa Rica has earned INBio numerous awards, including the Sir Peter Scott Award for Conservation Merit by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN, 1992), the Song to All Creatures Award by the Franciscan Center for Environmental Studies in Italy, the Prince of Asturias Prize in Science and Technology (1995), and the Tech Museum Award in 2003.”

ATBC is extremely honoured with Dr. Rodrigo Gámez Lobo being an honorary fellow.(© Celia Coto Elizondo)

Nomination Letter by Dr. Erick Mata Montero, Executive Director of Encyclopedia of Life

Bacardi Award – 2013

The Luis F. Bacardi Award is given to a young post-doctoral researcher (no more than five years after completing Ph.D.) for outstanding conservation-related presentation at each ATBC annual meeting.

Tremie Gregory Bacardi Award 2013The 2013 winner is Dr Tremaine (Tremie) Gregory. Her Ph D Dissertation was on the ecology of bearded saki monkey, Chiropotes sagulatus, at Brownsberg Natural Park, Suriname (see Marilyn Norconk’s Lab.) Today, she’s a research scientist at the Smithsonian Institute, USA, and developed a research program  to maintaining natural movement of animals that live in the tropical rain canopy in South America. As development and resource extraction encroach on remote areas of the Amazon, the forest is becoming increasingly fragmented, limiting where animals that cannot fly and only live in trees can go. To find a solution, researchers at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute convinced a development company to do an experiment. Researchers worked with company engineers to leave behind “natural canopy bridges,”standing trees with large branches that maintain connections between both sides of the forest. (Source: Smithsonian Science)

Natural canopy bridges over a gas pipeline: a mitigation strategy for arboreal animals in Peru

Tremaine Gregory, Farah Carrasco Rueda, Jessica Deichmann, Joseph Kolowski, and Alfonso Alonso
Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, National Zoological Park

Contact: Gregoryt@si.edu

Camera trap

Placement of camera traps in a canopy bridge by Tremaine Gregory. Note the right-of-way for the natural gas pipeline below. © Farah Carrasco.

Abstract. Travel routes for arboreal animals are disrupted when the development of linear infrastructure (e.g. roads and pipelines) involves the fragmentation of the canopy. In the Neotropics, primates are highly arboreal, and a pipeline has the potential to divide populations, altering territories and interrupting important processes such as gene flow. Through a collaboration with a natural gas company, we are investigating the impact of the construction of a natural gas pipeline on primates in the Lower Urubamba Region of Perú, and testing a novel strategy to reduce the effects of canopy fragmentation. We are monitoring the distribution of primate groups within one kilometer of the pipeline right-of-way (RoW) with transect walks before, during, and after pipeline construction, and assessing whether RoW crossing frequency is influenced by the presence of natural canopy bridges, connections left between canopy branches above the pipeline where animals may cross.

Aotus nigriceps

Canopy camera trap photo of Aotus nigriceps group in a canopy bridge 28m up. © Tremaine Gregory

Data collected during construction suggest a reduction in primate encounter rates within one kilometer of the RoW, as compared to before construction began. However, in the four months since the RoW was exposed, 8,000 camera trap photos show that all 13 natural bridges have been used by over 125 individuals of 19 arboreal mammal species. In contrast, where there are no natural bridges, only one of these arboreal species has been recorded crossing the RoW on the ground. This study highlights the value of collaborations between conservation organizations and development industries in proposing and documenting protocols for industry “best practices.” As we assess research priorities for the next 50 years and consider the increasing threat of human impacts on biodiversity, scientists must engage in developing, testing, and documenting strategies for impact mitigation.


Tremaine with co-author, Farah Carrasco, during tree climbing training for canopy camera placement. © Joe Maher.

More about Tremie Gregory’s research in the Amazon

Saguinus imperator

Canopy camera trap photo of Saguinus imperator utilizing a canopy bridge at 33m in height. (© Tremaine Gregory)

There is much potential for hydrocarbon exploration in the Western Amazon. In 2012, 53% of the Peruvian Amazon was covered with concessions; yet, the Peruvian Amazon is also among the world’s most biodiverse areas. Nonetheless, little scientifically rigorous research has been performed to understand the impact of such activities on wildlife. Furthermore, while companies may strive to engage in best practices to reduce impact, many of the methods have not been scientifically tested. Tremie is leading a study measuring the impact of the construction of a natural gas pipeline on arboreal animals, which are expected to be heavily impacted by canopy fragmentation induced by the right-of-way (RoW, the swath cut for the pipeline, see photo). And, in turn, with camera traps she is testing the effectiveness of the best practice of leaving natural canopy bridges (branch crossing points over the RoW) in impact mitigation. Through a partnership with the pipeline construction company, Tremie and her team have been able to monitor the area before, during, and after construction activities.

Initial results of monitoring before and during pipeline construction suggest a decrease in primate group encounter rates, a possible sign that the construction process may impact primate distribution patterns. Upcoming monitoring of primate abundance after construction will provide information about whether this pattern continues over the long term or if animals return to the area. On the other hand, camera trap monitoring of natural canopy bridges provides initial evidence of their effectiveness in fragmentation mitigation, with photos of over 1,000 crossing events by 19 mammal species in the first six months of the study.

Recent Articles

  • Norconk, M.A., Raghanti, M.A. Martin, S.K.,  Grafton, B.W.,  Gregory, L.T., and De Dijn, B.P.E.2003.  Primates of Brownsberg Natuurpark, Suriname, with Particular Attention to the Pitheciins.  Neotropical Primates 11(2):94-100. [PDF 174KB]
  • Tremaine Gregory (2011) Socioecology of the Guianan bearded saki, Chiropotes sagulatus. (PhD dissertation PDF 3.12MB) Website Marylin Norconk – ATBC2008.org
  • Gregory, T. and Norconk M.A. (2013). Comparative socioecology of sympatric, free-ranging white-faced and bearded saki monkeys in Suriname: A preliminary study. In: Evolutionary Biology and Conservation of Titis, Sakis, and Uacaris (L.M. Veiga, A.A. Barnett, S.F. Ferrari & M.A. Norconk, eds). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
  • Gregory, T., Carrasco Rueda, F., Deichmann, J.L., Kolowski, J., and Alonso, A. (2013). Primates of the Lower Urubamba Region, Peru, with comments on other mammals. Neotropical Primates19(1):16-23.
  • Gregory, T., Carrasco Rueda, F., Deichmann, J., Kolowski, J., Costa Faura, M., Dallmeier, F., and Alonso, A. (2013). Methods to establish canopy bridges to increase natural connectivity in linear infrastructure development. Society of Petroleum Engineers SPE12LAHS-P-157.
  • Gregory, T., Mullett, A., and Norconk, M.A. (accepted). Strategies for navigating large areas: A GIS spatial ecology analysis of the bearded saki monkey, Chiropotes sagulatus, in Suriname.American Journal of Primatology.
  • Gregory, T., Carrasco Rueda, F., Deichmann, J.L., Kolowski, J., and Alonso, A. (in review). Cameras in the high canopy: Broadening horizons of arboreal wildlife monitoring. International Journal of Primatology.
  • Gregory, T. and Norconk, M.A. (in review). Bearded saki socioecology: Affiliative male-male interactions in large, free-ranging groups in Suriname. Behaviour.