Site Installation, August 2014, La Selva Biological Research Station, Costa Rica

Site Installation, August 2014, La Selva Biological Research Station, Costa Rica


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Lead PI: Jane Zelikova, University of Wyoming, Department of Botany

Jane is interested in biogeochemistry and carbon dynamics of leaf cutter ants as well as the impacts of nest nutrient dynamics on plant growth. She is the project organizer, cheerleader, and pro-deal liason

Co-PI: Steve Oberbauer, Florida International University

Steve brings a great project overview (at least in part due to his immense height) and many years of experience working at La Selva on carbon. His work scales from several meters below ground into the canopy and beyond. Steve is most likely to bring a drone to the project. 

Dr. Luitgard Schwendenmann, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Luitgard brings with her years of experience studying soil carbon dynamics at La Selva. She is also the project lysimeter guru and will be examining carbon losses, especially in dissolved organic and inorganic forms.

Amanda Swanson, University of California Riverside

Amanda is interested in nest biogeochemistry, specifically the dynamics of dissolved inorganic carbon and the influence of phosphorus on carbon

Angel Fernandez Bou, University of California Merced

Angel is building a model of the Atta world. He is wrangling ants in the lab and in the field. And he is the master of the HYDRUS. 

Images coming soon! in the meantime, here are the study organisms,   Atta cephalotes   ants. Image credit Alex Wild

Images coming soon! in the meantime, here are the study organisms, Atta cephalotes ants. Image credit Alex Wild

Co-PI: Michael Allen, University of California Riverside, Center for Conservation Biology

Mike is a world renowned soil ecologist and mycorrhizal expert. He is interested in linking root and hyphal dynamics inside nests with carbon turnover and soil respiration

Dr. Diego Dierick, Florida International University

Diego is our man on the ground. He is the project McGyver, capable of fashioning a functioning soil respiration system to rival any LiCor set up using just a couple of Heliconia leaves, some string, and used bicycle tires. He is interested in everything!

Dr. Adrian Pinto, University of Costa Rica

Adrian is our local knowledge and leaf cutter ant natural history expert. He can dig an entire leaf cutter ant nest with a tea spoon in 15 minutes or less, extracting fungal chambers all the way down. His work focuses on microbial associations with symbiotic fungi and biocontrol.

Soren Weber, University of California Riverside

Soren is interested in fungi, all kinds of fungi. He is looking for a cool project.


Co-PI: Tom Harmon, University of California Merced 

Tom is the project engineer and inventor, akin to Q from James Bond. He is not afraid to get muddy and he is willing to get bit by angry ants to get the ecosystem modeling parameters we need.

Dr. Nicole Trahan, University of Wyoming

Nicole has been an integral member of the team from the very inception of the idea that became an REU project that became an NSF proposal that became a funded NSF effort. She is interested in biogeochemistry, carbon cycling, and using stable isotope approaches to differentiate sources of carbon emissions from leaf cutter ant nests.

Dr. Phil Rundel, University of California Los Angeles. 

Phil is a distinguished professor and has worked in the tropics for more than 40 years. He brings his La Selva navigation knowledge, the plant expertise, and at times, his voice of reason.

Dr. Paulo Olivas, Florida International University, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Paulo was integral in the inception of the project idea and has broad experience working in ecosystem science. He brings analytical and statistical prowess to the group.

Michael Meredyth-Young, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Mike hails to us from New Zealand, where he is working with Luitgard Schwendenmann. He is interested in dissolved carbon and is an innovator of field gear, specializing in revolutionizing the backpack