People

Caz Taylor, PhDCaz Taylor Ph.D. (Professor). I am a population ecologist. I use mathematical or computational methods combined with field experiments to investigate the dynamics of species. I am particularly interested in how movements of species that are spatially distributed affect their population dynamics. I work on theoretical investigations using network models to describe migratory species. In my most recent work, I am branching out into sustainability science and interdisciplinary studies of socio-ecological systems.

 

 

Marcela Cely-Santos (postdoc). I’m an interdisciplinary scientist and agroecologist. I received a BSc and MSc in biology at Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia, and a PhD in Environmental Studies at the University of California in Santa Cruz. I use multiple lines of evidence to understand rural socio-ecological systems, with a focus on the responses of biodiversity to agricultural perturbations; the socio-cultural roles of biodiversity in agricultural lands; and the socio-economic and political factors that influence agricultural dynamics and biodiversity conservation in the tropics. In my PhD dissertation, I aimed to understand different dimensions of human-bee relationships in the Colombian Andes. As an adjunct researcher at Instituto Humboldt- Colombia, I tried to understand relationships between agrobiodiversity, livelihood diversification, gender, and power in the Colombian Caribbean. I joined the Growing Convergence Research- Yoro model for Sustainable Coffee project as a postdoctoral researcher. In the project, I design a system dynamics model to understand the economic and ecological functioning of coffee farms in Yoro, Honduras, and leverage points that may guide farms engaged in the Integrated Open Canopy Yoro model towards sustainability.

 

Fabiola Rodriguez (Ph.D. Candidate). My research interests include ecology and conservation of avian systems. My research experience stems from participating in several projects that have focused on Neotropical birds in various ecosystems in Central America (mainly Honduras and Nicaragua). I completed my Master’s research at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where I studied the distribution and habitat-abundance relationships of the Honduran Emerald hummingbird, an endemic bird species that inhabits the threatened dry forests. Through these previous experiences, I have learned how research can serve as a foundation to inform conservation actions. During my PhD I want to accomplish three objectives: i) contribute to wintering ecology theory of migratory birds that use different Central American ecosystems; ii) design and conduct research that integrates field experiments and the advances in modeling techniques to study wintering ecology; and iii) conduct research that may be useful to conservation partners across the region to mitigate threats that currently affect migratory bird populations.

 

Kiah Williams (Ph.D. Candidate). I received a B.S. in Natural Resource Ecology and Management with a Wildlife Ecology Concentration from Louisiana State University. After LSU, I developed a diverse background in field positions including passerine point counts, mammal trapping, describing the phenology of riparian plants, and finally, shorebird biology. As a PhD student, I am interested in studying beach-nesting bird nest success, chick survival, and breeding sociality in coastal habitats, and how these patterns can be affected by beach restoration in anticipation of the ever-increasing frequency of severe weather events due to climate change. Specifically, my research interests include the rates and causes of nest failure in beach-nesting birds on the Louisiana coast, the trade-offs between different degrees of sociality in beach-nesting birds and how they relate to nest success, and using fairly new technology to track the movements of juvenile and adult shorebirds in the breeding and wintering seasons.

 

 

Anna Shattuck (Undergraduate). I am an undergraduate studying Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Math. I am particularly interested in disease ecology, behavioral ecology, and host-parasite interactions. For my Honors Thesis, I am exploring how infection with Ophryocystis elektroscirrha (OE) influences thermoregulatory behavior and behavioral fever of monarch butterfly caterpillars (Danaus Plexippus). Previously, I have completed research in the Caz Lab exploring the effects of humidity on OE spore persistence on milkweed. I also participated in the Population Biology of Infectious Diseases REU hosted by the University of Georgia where I studied how parasites influence stress responses in beetles. 

 

 

 

Anna Sloan (Undergraduate). I am currently studying Environmental Biology, and I am mainly interested in population ecology in coastal areas. Over the summer I worked with the Audubon WINGS program to assist Kiah in her research with beach-nesting birds in Grand Isle, LA. I also did an independent research project while I was there entitled Ghost Crab abundance and distributions in coastal Louisiana, where I studied human impacts on ghost crab populations, which I am currently working on.

 

 

  Erin Sheehy (Lab Technician). My research interests include the community ecology of plants and insects, examining color as a functional trait, the intersection of ecology, art, and design, as well as pollinator ecology in anthropogenically fragmented ecosystems. I received my B.S. in Environmental Biology and my M.S. in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Tulane University. My undergraduate honors thesis research investigated the environmental correlates of manakin lek sites in the Chocó Rainforest of Ecuador. My masters research examined the color change dynamics of local anoles (Anolis carolinensis, A. sagrei) in relation to thermoregulation. My research in the Caz Lab focuses on creating an artificial diet for monarch butterflies to better understand the influence of diet variables on monarch/parasite dynamics. I intend to continue studying plant-insect interactions for my future PhD work.

 

 

Former Lab Members

Ph.D. Students

Christen Steele (Ph.D. 2022). Shifts in Migratory Behavior: Implications for Parasite Infection, Population Dynamics, and Morphology in Eastern North American Monarch Butterflies (Danaus plexippus)

John A. Herbert (Ph.D. 2021). Survival, Effects of Habitat Change, and Migratory Tactics of Nearctic-Neotropical Migratory Shorebirds

Maggie MacPherson (Ph.D. 2017) Migration patterns in birds of the new world: seasonal, morphometric, and physiological considerations.

Alex Ameen (Ph.D. 2017) Ecogeomorphological processes:  Land building in the Mississippi River Delta.

Sarah Giltz (Ph.D. 2017) Larval and spawning ecology of the blue crab, Callinectes sapidus, in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Susan C. Chiasson (Ph.D. 2017 Ecotoxicology)  Effects of petroleum and anthropogenic contamination on growth, uptake, and gene expression in the blue crab, Callinectes.

Andrew J. Laughlin, Ph.D.  (Ph.D. 2015)  Movement ecology of a migratory songbird: Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor).

Jessica R. Henkel, Ph.D.  (Ph.D. 2015)  Migration ecology of shorebirds on the northern Gulf of Mexico and effects of the deepwater horizon oil spill.

 

Postdocs

Joanna Gyory, Ph.D. Modeling Larval dispersal in the Gulf of Mexico.

Erin Grey, Ph.D. Population dynamics, movement and recruitment of Blue Crabs.

Bryan J. Sigel, Ph.D. Effects of the oil spill on shorebirds and their associated food webs.

Rosalyn Rael, Ph.D. Metapopulation dynamics of urban rats and disease.

 

Master’s Students

Katrina Leyh (M.A. Economics, 2022, Independent Study). Developing a Carbon Offset Trading Scheme for Small Holdings and Private Land as Applied to the Yoro Biological Corridor

Caitlin Ducat (Thesis M.S.) Monarchs of the Gulf Coast: Effects of novel environmental conditions on wing morphology of the Eastern migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus).

Megan Ogburn (4+1 M.S.) Temperature, Cardenolides, Heavy Metals,  and Monarch Development.

Tyler Glaser (+1 M.S.) Analyzing citizen science data to understand declines in migratory birds.

Kelsie Kelly (4+1 M.S.) Effects of petroleum on embryo development in blue crabs.

Carlee Moir (4+1 M.S.) Patterns in Plankton biomass in the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Undergraduate Students

Lewis Greenstein Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) larval performance: The spectrum and basis of plant palatability.

Erik Johnson Avian Coastal Ecology: Survival and movement in beach-nesting birds using radio telemetry.

Brittany Maldonado Effects of host plants on morphology of monarch butterflies.

Kristen Rosamond Melanization and immune function in a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) population in New Orleans.

Dan Coleman Effects of ocean acidification on carapace hardness in blue crabs.

Kyle Coblentz Intermediate disturbance, habitat heterogeneity, or both? Testing diversity hypotheses in the soft-sediment intertidal.

Hannah Williams Variation in blue crab megalopae along the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Benjamin Jones Modeling larval transport of Blue Crabs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jaclyn Bergeron Evolution of communal roosting behavior.

Stephanie Wagstaff Patterns of Contaminants Detected in Megalopal Blue Crabs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Cynthia Crowley Plankton communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

Jerica Podrat Analysis of radar images to locate Tree Swallow roosts.

Victoria Troeger Patterns of diversity of crab megalopae in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Laura Chieko Matthews Effects of multiple past population bottlenecks when inferring population history. 

Caroline Mitchell Water as a potential mechanism for dispersal of Chinese Privet Ligustrum sinense, an invasive shrub.

Jaclyn Bergeron Analysis of radar images determine the variation and the effects of climate on arrival time of migratory Tree Swallows.

Michael Bartlein Developing a particle tracking model for the Gulf of Mexico.

Mary Grace Lemon The effects of Hurricane Katrina on bird communities in Honey Island Swamp.