Apr 29, 2018
The Natural History Collections have awarded six scholarships for the summer of 2018. These awards are made in support of research and education in the collections. This year they went to
* Luis Aguirre, a student of Lynn Adler in the Biology Department, will research how herbivory can disrupt plant-pollinator interactions. The goal is to determine how herbivory to a community’s dominant plant species affects pollinator foraging patterns and pollination network structure, and the consequences of these changes for reproduction in neighboring plant species.
* Rachel Bell, a student of Jason Kamilar in the Anthropology Department, will be studying lemurs in Beza Mahafaly Special Reserve in Madagascar. She will investigate how ecology and phylogeny affect the gut microbiome diversity in ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and Verreaux’s sifaka (Propithecus verreauxi). They have significantly different modes of locomotion, group structures, and diets. She predicts that while phylogeny and ecology will influence microbiomes, gut and hair microbiomes will be differentially affected by these factors, and also that there will be observable differences in microbiomes due to species-specific host traits. The proposed study would lay groundwork for further research in disease ecology and microbiome-focused conservation strategies.
* Amanda Fuchs, also a student of Jason Kamilar, will be traveling to Zambia to study how abiotic and biotic variables influence habitat use and movement ecology of Kinda baboons (Papio kindae) at Kasanka National Park. This work will have important implications for understanding how primates use their habitat, especially in the context of climate change and the availability and predictability of water and food resources.
* Tanya Lama, will study historic and contemporary effective population sizes for six populations of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) from Northern Maine, Northeastern Minnesota, Northwestern Montana/Northeastern Idaho, North Central Washington, Greater Yellowstone Area, and Western Colorado. Using frozen tissue samples from the Smithsonian Institution and state and federal agencies, she will use whole genome DNA analysis to create a Canada lynx reference genome and use additional population-level genome sequence data to address critical knowledge gaps in lynx demography. Ultimately the goal is to translate the findings into recommendations for state and federal partners designing and implementing management strategies for lynx conservation. Tanya is a student of John Organ and Stephen DeStefano in the Department of Environmental Conservation.
* Josh Moyer, a student of Duncan Irschick in the Biology Department, will use micro-CT scanning to generate 3D images of the jaw suspension, skeletal structures, and dentition of scanned Frilled Sharks (Chlamydoselachus anguineus), representing the most basal of all modern shark lineages.. As such, the Frilled Shark offers insight into ancestral jaw suspension and feeding. He will prepare revised documentation of anatomy associated with feeding in the Frilled Shark in ways that can be deposited online for a global audience, including publication-quality photos and three-dimensional digital models generated via CT scans and 3D photogrammetry, leading to more informed accounts of the ecological and evolutionary diversifications characterizing the rise of modern shark diversity from basal linages.
* Pedro Pereira Rizzato, of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, will be visiting under the sponsorship of Cristina Cox Fernandes, Curator of Fishes. He will use our extensive fish collections for his study, “A Review of the Anatomy of Polypteriformes (Vertebrata: Cladistii)”. This group is one of the most basal lineages of bony fishes.