April 2013 

OTS 50th Anniversary: ATBC-OTS Meeting
Registration Now Open


We are pleased to announce that the ATBC Meeting registration site is now open. The early-bird discount registration rate is available through midnight on April 20, 2013.

The registration system will automatically calculate your registration rate by checking the ATBC membership directory (as of March 20), country of residency and other demographic information. 

Student Volunteers Sought
The ATBC committee is seeking responsible graduate and undergraduate students interested in working as volunteers for ATBC2013 . We will need volunteer assistance with various tasks, including on-site registration, on-site bilingual help, projection assistance, preview room staffing, and poster session assistance. Student volunteers will be selected in advance on the basis of their credentials and experience. ATBC student membership is not required, although members will be favored and will be considered as part of a student's experience.  Volunteer applicants must be registered for the meeting by April 20. Click here for more information and application materials.
OTS 50th Anniversary: OTS Mixer

If you are planning to attend the ATBC meeting in San Jos´┐Ż, Costa Rica, please plan to join us on the evening of Monday, June 24, for an informal OTS Mixer. The mixer will be a reunion of sorts, bringing together OTS class alums and researchers at our stations. Please join us this evening and feel free to bring your colleagues and friends to the reunion. 


If you are interested in attending the OTS Mixer, please RSVP to Arianne Leslie at 919-684-5774 or via email at arianne.leslie@duke.edu. 

2012 OTS Outstanding Student Paper Award
Julia Barske


The winner of the 4th annual OTS Outstanding Student Paper Award is Julia Barske, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UCLA.  Her paper, Female choice for male motor skills  (Proceedings of the Royal  Society. B. 278, 1724: 3523-3528), co-authored with B. Schlinger, M. Wikelski and L. Fusani, demonstrated that precise timing in dancing male manakins was an important cue in male choice by females.   


Fabiane Mundim

Honorary mention went to Fabiane Mundim of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida.  Her paper, Attack frequency and the tolerance to herbivory of Neotropical savanna trees (Oecologia 168: 405-414), co-authored with E. M. Bruna, E. H. M. Vieira-Neto, and H. L. Vasconcelos, examined how the frequency of attack influenced plant survival, reproduction, and tolerance traits by using experimental defoliation that mimicked the natural patterns of attack by the dominant herbivore in tropical ecosystems - leaf-cutter ants (Atta spp.).   


Barske received a prize of $500 and will be recognized at the upcoming meeting in Costa Rica in June.  The awards committee was chaired by Kimberly G. Smith, and included Erin Kuprewicz, John Lill,  John Wiens, and Amy Savage, winner of last year's award.

OTS Alumnae Recognized at Clinton Global Initiative University   

Katie Guidera, a summer 2011 OTS student in the South Africa Global Health Program was a winner of the Social Venture Resolution Challenge at the  Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) in St. Louis earlier this month.  After her experience in South Africa, she received a grant from Duke University to return to South Africa with three other OTS alums and launch MAP - Malaria Awareness Program in HaMakuya, South Africa.    


The goal of the original proposal was to use an education-based platform, coupled with a bed net production and distribution system to increase malaria awareness, and unite the HaMakuya community in discussion. MAP also addressed current barriers to health and malaria vector control.


CGIU was launched in 2007 by President Bill Clinton to engage college students and inspire new ideas for making positive change in the world. The initiative invites students each year to submit their innovative ideas and take steps toward solving them.  

Biodiversity Conservation through the Lens of

Indigenous Peoples

August 5-18, 2013

This course focuses on the issues faced by conservation leaders developing projects within indigenous lands. The course will have two sections:

  • Immersion within a local/regional conservation project developed within an indigenous territory.
  • Sojourn to an indigenous territory involved in the conservation project under study.


New OTS Twitter Alert!

OTS now has a new twitter account @ots_tropicaledu which will provide followers with a quick reference tool for OTS tropical science courses. OTS will tweet information about courses out in the field and scientific knowledge generated from our students.   

South Africa: Partnership with University of Florida and Carnegie Institute for Science

NSF logo OTS in South Africa, with Karen Vickers as the lead faculty for this initiative, has conducted an extended research opportunity for selected OTS semester alumni, with support from the National Science Foundation's International Research Experiences for Students (IRES) program.      


As part second iteration of the IRES program, running in May and June last year and this upcoming summer, we have established partnerships with Greg Asner (Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University) and Dr. Robert McCleery (The University of Florida). Greg has focused much of his work in the Kruger National Park on the turnover in trees associated with the effects of elephants and fire, using LIDaR  (LIght Detection and Ranging or Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging) to track the loss and subsequent recovery of trees in the landscape.


Laurence Kruger (pictured in helicopter), Karen Vickers (OTS) and Robert McCleery (UFlorida) survey the Sabie River in Kruger National Park for research sites for a combined student research collaboration. Together with Greg Asner of Stanford University, the project will examine vegetation complexity and impacts on faunal communities in both Kruger N.P. and Swaziland.


Five students will have access to high resolution remote sensing data for our study sites, which will provide a useful analytical opportunities for both understanding the influence of vegetation structural complexity on faunal communities as well as how vegetation complexity might be affected by elephants and fire. Dr. McCleery has been running ecology courses in Swaziland for the University of Florida (UF) for a number of years. The UF ecology course focuses primarily on bush encroachment and consequent impacts on faunal and floral communities in communal rangelands on basaltic soils in eastern Swaziland. Since we are working in similar systems but on the other end of spectrum where we are losing trees, there is an ideal opportunity to collaborate with UF. The collaboration not only provides the students with the opportunity to travel to Swaziland and interact and learn from other researchers, but also to compare our data from the Kruger Park those collected in Swaziland. This is a very exciting collaboration where the students will benefit substantially from the additional exchange between students and researchers, but also the technology and additional perspectives that the University of Florida and the Carnegie Institution for Science bring.
Caught on Camera

Leucistic Neotropical Otter in Costa Rica 
Leucistic Neotropical Otter in Costa Rica
Gail and Harry Hull captured t
his video of a white Neotropical Otter, seen on Laguna Zoncho, Finca Cantaros, San Vito, Costa Rica on March 3, 2013. The otter was spotted early in the morning on the shore of this 2.5-acre wetland in the pre-montane southern Pacific highlands and subsequently photographed (stills only) as it swam around the lake. Its dark eyes mean that it is not an albino as initially thought, but its unusual white fur seems indicative of leucism since typical neotropical otters are dark in color. The otter has been seen several times since in and near the lake but does not appear to be living close to the lake. 
Tulane University Highlights OTS

In a recent online article, Tulane University highlighted the long-standing relationship with OTS and the benefits to its' students and professors.
Article Excerpt:
"OTS transforms lives," say Thomas Sherry, Tulane University ecology and evolutionary biology professor and Visco's dissertation adviser.

OTS research fellowships have been "extraordinarily valuable" to his lab, Sherry says. They have helped him develop a more comprehensive understanding of issues associated with rainforest loss and fragmentation in the Sarapiqui (Caribbean) Lowlands of Costa Rica.

Click here to read the full article.    
In This Issue:
50th: ATBC-OTS Meeting
OTS Mixer
Student Paper Award
Alumnae Recognized
Biodiversity Conservation
New OTS Twitter
Graduate Calendar
South Africa Partnership
Caught on Camera
Tulane University Highlights OTS

OTS Links

Find us on FacebookView our videos on YouTubeFollow us on TwitterView our photos on flickr
Employment Opportunities

The Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) is seeking applicants for several positions. Qualifications vary by position and application instructions can be found on our website.