Dr. Renata Ribeiro, along with her collaborators Dr. Jordan Karubian and Dr. Liz Derryberry, has grabbed the attention of local media outlets recently with the announcement of a new study investigating the affect of lead contamination in the soil of New Orleans on mockingbirds' ability to learn new songs. Learning new songs is important for mockingbirds to be able to attract mates and reproduce. It is widely known that lead can be as poisonous to animals as it is to humans, but little is known about what specific impacts that lead contamination has on urban wildlife. New Orleans, with its many historic neighborhoods, tends to have a high amount of lead in its soil, which unfortunately makes it a good location to conduct such a study.
Dr. Hank Bart, Professor and Director of the Tulane University Biodiversity Institute, was featured on the Discovery Channel's new series "Beasts of the Bayou." The show's second episode focuses on the myth of the Altamaha-ha, or "Altie," a 20-foot-long water monster with a long neck, sharp teeth and a spiny tail. As an ichthyologist and the overseer of the Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection, the largest collection of fish specimens in the world, Dr. Bart takes the counterpoint to a group of adventurers that insist the beast exists. "When [alligator gar] come up to take gulps of air," explains Dr. Bart, "they actually surface and curl, and I can imagine that someone would think they were seeing a monster."
Tulane's newest study abroad program takes students to Costa Rica to learn about the environment. The interdisciplinary Environmental Studies program consists of several fields important to understanding the environment including ecology, climate change, conservation, geology, international law, international politics and Spanish language. The team of instructors includes EEB's own Sunshine Van Bael, who teaches Tropical Agroecosystems, and Tom Sherry, who teaches Tropical Conservation and Global Change. Immersing students in Costa Rica allows students to experience the beauty of a tropical environment and the various issues facing many countries.
The Science and Engineering Spring 2014 Newsletter features a tribute to EEB's own Jeanette "Davi" Battistella who is entering her 31st year at Tulane. Davi has been an integral part of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department for more than two-thirds of that time. She is truly one of the greatest resources for the Faculty and Students of EEB. Thanks for everything Davi!
PhD candidate Jessica Henkel won first place in the Graduate Oral Presentation category at the 2014 State of the Coast conference. This biennial conference is hosted by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and brings together various interested parties including the scientific community, government agencies, business leaders and residents. Jessica wowed the audience with her talk titled "Potential impacts of sea-level rise on the migration ecology of shorebirds on the Northern Gulf of Mexico."
Koch-Richardson Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. John Schenk led a team of researchers that discovered a new plant in Arizona's Grand Canyon. Dr. Schenk and his colleagues described the white to light yellow flowering perennial, which they named Mentzelia canyonensis, in the journal Brittonia.
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