Lab news update April 2017

Congratulations to Claire Teitelbaum on receiving a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship! Claire’s project will study the drivers and consequences of nomadic movement, with applications to how nomads respond to shifting resource availability across the landscape.

Congratulations, too, to Lee Brown, who becomes the first Hall Lab alumna! Lee has started an NSF-funded postdoc on butterfly conservation at the EEB department in Connecticut University. Good luck Lee, we will miss you!

Long-term Hall Lab collaborator Dan Becker was awarded a grant from the APS Lewis and Clark Fund to fund his ongoing work on vampire bat pathogens in Belize. Dan recently organized for a special issue of Phil Trans R Soc Lond on the consequences of resource provisioning for wildlife infectious disease, featuring contributions from Lee and Richard. Congrats, Dan!


White Ibis project update

Richard and Claire joined Sonia Hernandez and Team Ibis for the first on-site project meeting of our NSF EEID-funded grant investigating the consequences of anthropogenic food resources for White Ibis health and exposure to pathogens such as Salmonella. As well as brainstorming ideas for the coming year, we got to see the field crew in action as they attempted to capture wild White Ibis foraging in Lion Country Safari. It took a while to lure them in, but eventually Maureen and Taylor were successful in catching 3 birds, much to the disdain of the local flamingo flock! One of these birds was fitted with a GPS backpack, which will give fine-scale data on its movement between foraging sites and (hopefully) where it spends the summer. By comparing the local and long-distance movements of urban-foraging birds with ibis captured at wetlands, we’ll be able to understand how seasonally and spatially predictable resources influence ibis movement behavior within and between seasons.


Hybridization may help, not hinder, colonizing species

How hybridization helps colonizing species estbalish – adapted from Hall, RJ (2016) Hybridization helps colonizers become conquerors. PNAS 113: 9963-9964.

A fascinating new article by Mohsen Megsaran and colleagues, just published in PNAS, sheds light on a new way in which hybridization with previously established species may influence colonization success. The authors develop a simple mathematical model to show that a rare colonizer can overcome Allee effects and exploit the presence of a more common congener to allow colonizer genes to gain a foothold.  Subject to preferential backcrossing of hybrids with colonizer-like genotypes, the colonizing species can reassemble and replace the established species even in the absence of other fitness advantages. Richard worked on modeling hybrid plant invasions several years ago, and was delighted to get an opportunity write a commentary showcasing the article and speculating as to its broader application.