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Organization for Tropical Studies announces winners of the 7th Annual Student Paper Award


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#1 Chris Merkord

Chris Merkord

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Posted 23 February 2016 - 11:42 AM

I wanted to pass this along from OTS.  The winning student and one of the runner's up had papers dealing with birds.  The bold formatting was added by me.
 
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This year’s winner is Alejandro Rico-Guevara from the University of Connecticut for his paper “Bills as daggers? A test for sexually dimorphic weapons in a lekking hummingbird” published in Behavioral Ecology, a close collaboration with Marcelo Araya-Salas, a graduate student at New Mexico State University.  He conducted this research while working with Margaret Rubega. This revolutionary work demonstrates that Long-billed Hermit males use their bills as weapons in territorial defenses and offers a new explanation for sexual dimorphism in bills of hummingbirds. This 4 year study combined behavioral observations in the field with territory mapping, mark-recapture, ontogenetic changes, detailed morphological analysis, and performance experiments. Fieldwork was carried out at La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica, which is operated by the Organization for Tropical Studies.
 
Runner-up is María-José Endara from the University of Utah for her paper “Divergent evolution in antiherbivore defenses within species complexes at a single Amazonian site” published in Journal of Ecology. She was co-advised by Phyllis Coley and Thomas Kursar and is an alum of 2 OTS courses. Her research addressed a challenging and important question examining how insect herbivores may drive the maintenance and origin of tropical tree diversity. She conducted several years of fieldwork in a remote site in the Amazon, and coupled fieldwork with lab work, including UPLC-mass spectrometry analyses of secondary metabolites and sequencing DNA of herbivores to reconstruct a phylogeny.
 
Three papers received Honorable Mention. Timothy (Trevor) Caughlin from the University of Florida for his paper “Loss of animal seed dispersal increases extinction risk in a tropical tree species due to pervasive negative density dependence across life stages” published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.  He worked with Douglas Levey, who is now at the National Science Foundation. Luke Owen Frishkoff from Stanford University for his paper “Loss of avian phylogenetic diversity in Neotropical agricultural systems” published in Science, while working with Gretchen C. Daily. Alison Ravenscraft also from Stanford University for her paper “Nutrient acquisition across a dietary shift: Fruit feeding butterflies crave amino acids, nectivores seek salt” published in Oecologia. She conducted her research with co-advisors Carol Boggs, now at the University of South Carolina, and Kabir Peay.
 
The Committee was Kimberly G. Smith, Chair, University of Arkansas; Elisabeth Arevalo, Providence College; Erin Kuprewicz, National Museum of Natural History; and Kyle Harms, Louisiana State University.  The Committee would like to thank all the students that submitted packets for consideration.  “This year we received the most nominations and the best nominations” said Smith.  “Choosing the winner this year was a difficult task given the quality of the nominations.”






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