Archbold Biological Station, Biennial Report 1997-1998

Graduate students and interns at Archbold Biological Station, February 1997; photo by Nancy Deyrup.

                     1997 -  1998
      Interns & Graduate Students*
  • Matthew J. Baber*
  • Barbara J. Beckford*
  • Elizabeth M. Borst*
  • Pamela Bowen*
  • Sean Brady*
  • Kimberly B. Brand*
  • Audrey Buchanan
  • Carol Chulak*
  • Michelle L. Dent*
  • Stephen Downs*
  • Matthew S. Finer
  • Arthur L. Fleischer*
  • Tina L. Gionfriddo*
  • Jill M. Goldstein*
  • Tino Gonsalves*
  • Erica M. Goss
  • Christina V. Hawkes*
  • Alan Herndon*
  • Philip E. Higuera
  • Molly E. Hunter
  • Lisa Horth*
  • Wendy Jess
  • William J. Keating*
  • Katherine Kelley*
  • Kimberly A. Keyser
  • Douglas Kramer*
  • Johanna M. Kraus
  • Joshua Ladau
  • David Lubertazzi*
  • Satya K. Maliakal
  • Abigail L. McCarthy
  • Melinda R. McElveen
  • Patrick J. McIntyre
  • Peter E. Midford*
  • Emily Minor
  • Joan L. Morrison*
  • Kurt Mykut
  • Brian S. Nelson*
  • Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio*
  • Wendy Reed*
  • Kurt O. Reinhart
  • Ralph G.S. Risch*
  • David Russell*
  • Matthew D. Shawkey*
  • Laura Stenzler*
  • Bradley A. Stith*
  • Keith A. Tarvin*
  • Gayle vande Kerckhove*
  • Raeleen Wilson*
  • Rebecca Yahr*

Satya Maliakal, research intern, Brown University; photo by Nancy Deyrup

Matthew Finer, research intern, University of Pittsburgh; photo by Nancy Deyrup

Johanna Kraus, research intern, Brown University

Student Research

[Biennial Contents | Biennial 95-96]

During 1997-98, 50 undergraduate, post-graduate, and graduate students were in residence at Archbold Biological Station and the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center (MAERC) conducting independent research projects under the guidance of Staff Research Biologists. Almost all of these students were supported by Archbold's student research program. Students are selected, competitively, throughout the year, and receive a stipend and room and board in return for 20 hours of research work per week under the direction of Archbold scientists. Each student also conducts an independent research project, and often these projects lead to thesis research or to a scientific publication. We briefly highlight a cross-section of student research from four Station labs and from MAERC.

[Former interns and graduate students; please complete the new Intern Survey form and help us evaluate our student programs.]


[Plant Ecology | Ornithology | Applied Avian Ecology |
Entomology | Agro-ecology]

Plant Ecology: Lab Director, Eric S. Menges   top
     Satya Maliakal (now a graduate student at Louisiana State Univ.;see photo, this page studied the composition of wiregrass flatwoods in relation to fire history. Normally, flatwoods burn frequently. In wiregrass flatwoods that remain unburned, the dominant wiregrass declines and saw palmetto increases in abundance. Fires are a stabilizing factor in such flatwoods in large part because the vast majority of species (89%) resprout following burns.
     Similarly, sandhill communities are adapted to frequent fires. The effect of the reinstitution of fires to fire-suppressed sandhill communities was studied by Kurt Reinhart (now a graduate student at Univ. Montana) based on data collected previously by the plant ecology lab and on Kurt’s 1997 measurements. Fire caused changes in species abundance but did not alter species presence or diversity. Scrub oak and pine abundances and sizes were reduced, which may indicate that continued burning will continue to make opportunities available for the herbaceous species characteristic of sandhill communities.
     Matthew Finer (now a graduate student at Washington State Univ.; see photo, this page) studied the seed dynamics of Dicerandra frutescens, an endangered species which has been studied by the Plant Ecology Lab for over a decade. Matt’s work adds some important pieces to our knowledge of this plant. Seeds and fruits were captured only under, or very near, extant plants, showing that dispersal is very limited. Similar patterns were seen in patterns of seeds sieved from soil samples at several populations. Seed bank abundances in sites with different fire histories mimics the distributions of aboveground plants, with markedly lower seed densities found in long-unburned stands. Matt’s research emphasizes the need for prescribed burning to maintain soil seed banks of D. frutescens.

Ornithology Lab:  Director, Glen E. Woolfenden   top
    Keith Tarvin (former Ph.D. candidate at Univ. South Florida (USF)), completed his dissertation entitled "The influence of habitat variation on demography of blue jays (Cyanicitta cristata) in south-central Florida" and now holds a post-doctoral position with Steve Pruett-Jones at the University of Chicago. Keith has the enviable assignment of conducting field work in Australia. Jill Goldstein, former USF graduate student, continues her doctoral studies at the University of Georgia. She is the first author of a paper published in 1998 in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology entitled "A same-sex stepparent shortens a prebreeder’s duration on the natal territory: tests of two hypotheses in Florida scrub-jays." Bill Keating (M.S. candidate at USF) continues writing his thesis on nocturnal behavior of the Florida scrub-jay (FSJ), and plans to finish in 1999. Tina Gionfriddo (MS candidate at USF) developed a thesis project on cowbird brood parasitism in FSJs.
     Liz Borst concluded her field work on the scrub-jays in the Demography Tract at Archbold, completing her thesis, and received her MS degree from Villanova University under the direction of long-term Bird Lab research collaborator Bob Curry. The thesis title is "Effects of breeder age, breeder experience, and pair-bond duration on clutch initiation date and clutch size in Florida scrub-jays.
     Peter Midford (Ph.D. candidate at Univ. Wisconsin) is close to completing his dissertation on social learning in FSJs. Douglas Kramer (M.A. candidate at Univ. Wisconsin) is writing his thesis on caching behavior in FSJs. Both are students of Jack Hailman, Research Affiliate, who has just been appointed a Research Associate at Archbold.
     Brad Stith (Ph.D. candidate at Univ. Florida) continues to work on his dissertation on metapopulation modeling. His findings will have a profound effect on FSJ conservation practices in the near future.

Applied Avian Ecology Lab: Lab Director, Reed Bowman  top
     Student research in the Applied Avian Ecology Lab has focused on understanding the processes that shape demographic differences between Florida scrub-jay populations in the suburbs and in pristine habitat at Archbold Biological Station. Artie Fleischer (M.S. candidate at Univ. South Florida (USF)) is examining the behavior of breeding females to determine why scrub-jays in the suburban habitat consistently breed earlier than scrub-jays at Archbold. Artie has shown that birds with access to supplemental food conserve energy by reducing foraging time and improving their foraging efficiency, while consuming a similar amount of energy as birds without access to supplemental food. Matt Schawkey (M.S. student at USF) is attempting to explain high rates of brood reduction by scrub-jays in the suburbs. Matt is investigating two alternative hypotheses to explain this pattern. Disturbance during incubation may lead to greater hatching spreads and thereby greater size asymmetries among siblings in the suburbs or arthropod abundance may be lower, decreasing the ability of parents to rear large broods. Michelle Dent (M.S. candidate at Antioch New England Graduate School) is examining patterns of post-fledgling survival and habitat use in scrub-jays between the suburbs and at Archbold. Survival curves differ significantly, but most of those differences accrue during the first 2 weeks after fledging. Fledglings do not travel as far from the nest site in the suburbs as do fledglings at Archbold. Their movements may be restricted by the many open gaps that occur in the highly disturbed habitats in the suburbs and this may make them more vulnerable to predation.

Entomology Lab: Lab Director, Mark Deyrup   top
     While Kim Keyser was catching insects on palmetto flowers (see Entomological Research), Johanna Kraus (now a recent graduate of Brown Univ.; see photo, this page) worked on the associates of the social spider Anelosimus studiosus, whose social behavior was first described at the Station many years ago by Vincent Brach (then an Archbold Post-Doctoral Associate). Johanna studied these spiders on the west side of Lake Annie, where breezes from the east send swarms of midges into a fringe of oaks, creating the finest spider real estate on the Station. The little social spiders thrive in this place, and Johanna surveyed the arthropods occupying their webs. There are spider-eating, pirate spiders, and small spiders of the genus Argyrodes that may be either predators or scavengers. There are bright red plant bugs of the genus Ranzovius (probably scavengers), and mites, springtails, and bark lice. One of the most interesting guests is the caterpillar of the pyralid moth Tallula. These larvae appear to occur only in spider webs, where they feed on whatever foliage the web encloses. This may be live or dead leaves, on plants as diverse as oak, fetterbush and scrub rosemary. The caterpillars resemble small brown sticks caught in the web.
     Joshua Ladau (now a graduate student at Cornell Univ.) began a project on the behavior of the newly-described (Deyrup and Eisner 1996), sand pygmy mole cricket, Neotridactylus archboldi. He was able to get the male mole crickets to sing in little burrows in plastic soda straws filled with sand, picking up the substrate-borne vibrations through the needle of an old phonograph. He thus became the first person to hear the faint stridulations of pygmy mole crickets. More recently, he used more elaborate equipment at Cornell to study the songs of crickets mailed up from the Station.

MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center   top
     Two long-term research programs, initiated by graduate students, are developing at the Center. In 1997, Joan Morrison (Univ. Florida) completed her Ph.D. dissertation (see Appendix B) on the reproductive ecology and habitat association of the crested caracara, a distinctive raptor of central Florida’s prairies and ranchlands. Although Joan is now studying another species of caracara in Chile, in 1998 she completed her fifth year of research on Florida’s caracaras, now from her base at Colorado State University. In 1998, Matt Baber (Florida International Univ.; see photo, MAERC article) began his dissertation research on the dynamics of tadpole communities in isolated wetlands. He is investigating the effects of habitat and landscape characteristics in both native prairies and modified agricultural systems. This work builds on previous amphibian studies at the Center by another University of Florida graduate student Kim Babbit (now on the faculty at Univ. New Hampshire) (see Appendix B).
[See also Contributions from MAERC.]

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Archbold Biological Station, 12 April 2000
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