We are currently looking for graduate and undergraduate students to join our ecology research program in the Martinez lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at CSULB. We focus on behavioral and community ecology primarily in the neotropics, using mixed-species bird flocks as a study system.
We are recruiting students to participate in several projects that focus on community or behavioral ecology.
1) Evaluating long-term change in an Amazonian Forest Bird Community:
Thirty years ago, a landmark census on tropical bird communities was completed by John Terborgh’s team on a 100-hectare study plot at Cocha Cashu Biological Station in the Peruvian Amazon. With funding from National Geographic, our research team was able to re-census this plot this past year, creating a unique opportunity to evaluate long-term changes within this bird communities.
One question we are interested in addressing -What is the extent to which the spatial distribution of bird territories of all resident forest species changes in relation to forest structure over time? This is an exciting opportunity to partake in a study that has taken a unique methodological approach that combines natural history with quantitative tools to estimate changes in the distribution and abundance of bird species in one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.
Description of student tasks and responsibilities.
Students will be responsible for using spatial analysis software to digitize spatial maps of bird species territories from the first research completed 30 years ago. These maps are essential for making comparisions to recently estimated territories from the completed 2018 recensus.
2) Eavesdropping networks:
Are signal cascades non-random in a tropical forest bird community? Do certain species have disproportionately influential roles in eavesdropping networks?
We are currently examining the dynamics of vocal communication among species and how these dynamics may explain community wide eavesdropping networks in Amazonian rainforests. This project require the use of acoustic analysis of sound recordings of Amazonian birds.
3) The Role of mixed species flocks in the food-web of a neotropical rainforest:
How do mixed-species flocks influence the food webs of the understory of a neotropical rainforest? We will also continue our work in the Peruvian Amazon this summer to understand the larger relationship of Amazonian birds in neotropical foodwebs, as well as molecular work to evaluate niche overlap through metabarcoding.
4) Coming soon!
We are also in the exploratory phase of doing local projects in southern California, so students interested in doing local field work should contact us about research possibilities. We encourage students to enroll in Directed Research or Independent Study for course credit. More information about the types of experiences and projects of previous research assistants can be found at neotropicalscience.com. Interested students should send a resume with relevant coursework, experience, GPA, and a 250 word paragraph describing 1) why you are interested in research 2) what your interests are and 3) what are your post-graduation goals to Ari.Martinez@csulb.edu.