Rabenold Lab Members

Leanna Begay | Johel Chaves | Matt Gasner | Keiller Kyle | Meghan Lout

Leanna Begay

STATUS: MSc Student (started in Fall 2005)

Contact information: Office phone number: 765-494-4726 E-mail: lbegay@purdue.edu

My name is Leanna Begay, I am Diné and originally from Tuba City/Howell Mesa, Arizona. I recently graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BA in Applied Indigenous Studies and an emphasis in Traditional Ecological Knowledge. I’m beginning my first year as a graduate student at Purdue University where my educational goal is to earn my master’s degree in Ecology so that I can become a scientist in the academic world and a Native woman scientist for my community.

I hope to continue my work in a Native American community in Northern Arizona, with the Kaibab Band of Paiutes. I have previously worked with the Paiute community before coming to Purdue University participating in doing field research in conducting and collecting deer censuses, vegetation data, bat data, and bird identification. From my experience of working with the Kaibab Band of Paiute community and ISIS (Indigenous Sisterhood of Interdisciplinary Scholars) we have formed a bond in maintaining our ties to our culture, traditions, and traditional knowledge for the land.

I have not finalized my master’s thesis question just yet, but hopefully will do soon. I’m currently working on applying for funding to support my summer field season and also to learn of the methodologies in collecting my data. What makes this experience unique is that I’m learning about Ecology as I’m continuing my studies.

ISIS - http://oak.ucc.nau.edu/smo6/isis/
NAU - http://www.nau.edu

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Johel Chaves

Johel Chaves

STATUS: PhD Candidate (started in Fall 2003)

Contact information: Office phone number: 765-494-4726 E-mail: jchaves@purdue.edu

See my website

RESEARCH INTEREST

I am broadly interested in animal behavior from an evolutionary perspective, and in the application of animal behavior to conservation. My early work (undergraduate and masters) has focused on basic aspects of the ecology, behavior, and conservation of birds in my natal country, Costa Rica. I am currently focused on the evolutionary significance of sociality in obligate army-ant-following birds using a combination of observational, experimental, and laboratory methods. Read more...

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Matt Gasner

Matt Gasner

STATUS: MSc Student (started in Fall 2005)

Contact information: Office phone number: 765-494-8132 E-mail: mgasner@purdue.edu

RESEARCH INTEREST

Stability of Abundance and Distribution in Tropical Cloud Forest Birds

The avian communities of Monteverde, Costa Rica contain one of the highest densities of endemic bird species in Central America with 10% (41) of its species classified as narrow endemics (ranges limited to the Costa Rica / Panamá highlands). Furthermore, Monteverde’s highland bird community (species found within the lower montane wet and lower montane rain forests (“cloud forest”) of the Holdridge life zones) has an even higher concentration of narrow endemics, at 23% (32) of its species. Because Monteverde’s cloud forest community contains many endemic species and has its entire assemblage of biotic communities potentially threatened by global climate change, it should be an area of primary concern for research and conservation. Appropriate conservation decisions can only be made if a better understanding of species’ local distributions, abundances, and their natural range of variation are obtained. In spite of the demand for this information and Monteverde’s popularity among tropical researchers, in-depth studies of its cloud forest avian community remain limited. My M.S. research is aimed to fill this gap in knowledge for bird species presently occurring within the forests of Monteverde (900 -1800m). By performing repeated point-count surveys of bird species during the local breeding season (May-July) in 2006 and 2007, we will be able to provide the first detailed descriptions of abundance for many of the endemic species living in Monteverde’s cloud forests. Our data will then be combined with data collected in Monteverde in 2001 and 2003, thus creating a much larger data set so that it contains fours seasons of data taken over the course of seven years. Examination of this data will allow us to measure the natural degree of variation of population sizes for a majority of species found in Monteverde. After identifying this variation, we will be able to examine the current and future effects of climate change on this cloud forest bird community.

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Keiller Kyle

Keiller Kyle

STATUS: MSc Student (started in Fall 2005)

Contact information: Office phone number: 765-494-8132 E-mail: kkyle@purdue.edu

I am interested in the effects of human disturbance on natural systems. Particularly I am interested in forest fragmentation and its cascading effects on mircoclimates, vegetation, and ultimately bird communities. Currently, I am studying how the composition of bird communities are affected by forest edges in Monteverde, Costa Rica. My questions involving the pasture-primary forest edges are how do the edges change the species richness near the edge compared to interior forest sites? Do communities or species have varying levels of sensitivity to edge habitats and does the location of their habitat (based on elevation or distance to the continental divide) influence sensitivity? Does the complexity of the forest structure influence whether certain species are present in edge habitat? These are important questions in order to identify species that are at risk to further fragmentation of their habitat. I would like to calculate an estimation of usable habitat for the Monteverde region based on a species’ level of sensitivity to forest edges. Monteverde is a highly diverse area not only for birds, but plants, insects, and bats as well. It contains many species that are restricted to the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. These communities are of high conservation concern as there is a high level of diversity across taxa in an extremely small area (30km2).

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Meghan Lout

STATUS: MSc Student (started in Fall 2006)

Contact information: Office phone number: 765-494-8132 E-mail: mlout@purdue.edu

I received my bachelor’s degree in wildlife biology at UMass Amherst and also obtained a certificate in tropical reforestation through the School for Field Studies. My research interests are primarily in tropical ecology and the conservation of tropical bird species. The research projects in which I have participated are closely related to my personal research goals and objectives and have largely focused on anthropogenic affects on wildlife species. .

My most recent field work looked at bat roost site selection and foraging site selection in heavily logged forests of northern Idaho. I was a research assistant for a project that assessed the impacts of oil and gas well development on ferruginous hawks in Utah. I was also a field technician on the Peregrine Fund’s project that intensely monitors reintroduced California condors in northern Arizona. Similarly, I was involved in a captive breeding and reintroduction program for macaws in Costa Rica. I also participated in other studies researching passerine, shorebird and marshbird species productivity in human-altered habitats in New England. Additionally, I studied staging and migratory sandhill cranes in Nebraska.

Next year I will beginning my master’s thesis project in Monteverde, Costa Rica. I will potentially be researching nightingale thrushes and wren species as part of an integrative study of how climate change may impact wildlife species

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