J.P. Lawrence (Noonan Lab) is the recipient of a National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes Fellowship for summer 2015. J.P. will spend the summer working on the Australian Brood Frogs (Pseudophryne) to better understand the purpose of the variety of color signals found in this genus. His work will help him discern how predators view and select particular colors that may promote or constrain their evolution. This is the first EAPSI Fellowship awarded to a member of the University of Mississippi Biology Department.
Congratulations to Matt Abbott (Ph.D. Student with Dr. Brewer) on his new publication in PLoS One - "Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia rosea) Dieback and Partial Community Disassembly following Experimental Storm Surge in a Coastal Pitcher Plant Bog" http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0125475. This study, co-authored by Loretta Battaglia, was part of Matt's masters thesis research at Southern Illinois. Using experimental addition of saline water to a coastal bog community (a freshwater wetland), they found that most plant species were resilient to the addition of saline water, but the purple pitcher plant was not and experienced significant dieback. Coastal pitcher plant bogs therefore may not be able to fully recover from storm surges that are expected to increase in frequency with climate change.
Matt has also been successful in getting funding for his current Ph.D. research on carnivorous plants, including $5000 from the Garden Club of America, $1000 from the Society for Wetland Scientists, and $700 from Sigma Xi. Keep up the good work, Matt!
Congratulations to Biology major Megan Smith! This Noonan lab member (and Taylor Medal winner) has just been awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. With this fellowship, Megan will pursue her PhD at Ohio State University where she will work with Dr. Bryan Carstens on projects exploring the evolution of terrestrial gastropods (snails) in the Pacific Northwest.
Congratulations! Biology Ph.D. student Tim Colston (right), a member of Dr. Brice Noonan's laboratory group, has been awarded a Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation. Tim will continue his studies of vertebrate community structure and whether bacterial communities living inside vertebrates might influence how new vertebrate species evolve. Tim will employ a novel approach to investigating these questions by exploring the evolutionary histories of both the bacteria found in the gut of reptiles and the evolutionary history of the reptile hosts. By utilizing cutting the edge technologies like next generation sequencing this project will allow Tim to understand the extent to which bacterial communities living inside vertebrates are structured by the ecology of the host (e.g. what the host eats, where they live) or the evolutionary histories of the host (e.g. how they are related to other species).
Research by faculty member, Lainy Day, post-doctoral student Willow Lindsay and two undergraduate co-authors was recognized as the editor's pick for this month's issue of Brain, Behavior, and Evolution, http://www.karger.com/Article/FullText/369244 . Illustrations from the paper also made the cover of the journal. The editor's pick is freely available for download in this journal that is normally available by subscription only. The paper demonstrates that when males are attracting females, the more complex the dance is the larger is the size of the male's brain - at least in the family of birds known as the manakins, Pipridae. This group of birds lives in Central and South America and males perform courtship displays for females that vary in complexity from simple alterations in typical avian flight patterns to wildly acrobatic displays punctuated by loud snapping sounds made by the wings of the birds.