Plenary Session I – Student Award Speakers

2022 Annie M. Alexander Award – Olivia Chapman

This year the Annie M. Alexander Award is awarded to Olivia Chapman from the University of North Carolina Greensboro for her application entitled “Evaluating gastrointestinal morphology as a continuous functional trait in small mammal community assembly.” Olivia Chapman first fell in love with mammalogy and field research when she took a Field Mammalogy class at the University of Michigan Biological Station in 2016, taught by Dr. Phil Myers. She decided to pursue a career in mammalogy and she am currently finishing her Master’s in Biology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Dr. Bryan McLean’s lab. Her thesis focuses on how gastrointestinal tracts of small mammals change in response to varying food quality and availability, as well as how gastrointestinal traits can be used as continuous functional traits indicative of dietary guild. She hopes to expand on this work as she begins her PhD program this fall, continuing on in Dr. McLean’s lab. In addition, she is very committed to making sure any data she collects is accessible and available, and plans to link all of the gastrointestinal data she collected back to the museum specimens they came from. She also helped to digitize the UNCG mammal collection last year, which is now openly available on Arctos. She has done some work at museums in the past and hopes to continue utilizing museum collections in her future research endeavors.

2022 Anna M. Jackson Award – Flavio Augusto da Silva Coelho

This year the Anna M. Jackson Award is awarded to Flavio Augusto da Silva Coelho from the University at Buffalo for his application entitled “Ancient bears provide insights into Pleistocene ice age refugia in Southeast Alaska.” Flavio Coelho hails from Brazil where he did undergraduate and master’s research on Brazilian primates and rodents. He is currently a 3rd year Ph.D. candidate at the University at Buffalo, working in Dr. Charlotte Lindqvist’s Lab. Flavio is interested in mammalian evolution, paleogenetics, paleoecology, genomics, biogeography, and taxonomy. His research aims to investigate the evolutionary history of mammals that inhabit Alexander Archipelago, Southeast Alaska using ancient DNA from subfossils of different mammalian species spanning the last 50,000 years, such as Sitka black-tailed deer, brown bears, black bears, seals, and foxes. Mammalian ancient DNA can be used as a proxy to provide insights to many different questions, such as whether Southeast Alaska provided ice age refugia during the Last Glacial Maximum. It would also be possible to assess the biotic impact of climate change in southeastern Alaska during the Late Pleistocene, help constrain the timing and extent of deglaciation along the westernmost edge of the Cordilleran Ice sheet, and timing and viability of a North Pacific route that could have been used by different mammals (including humans) when migrating towards the south of the ice-sheets. After his Ph.D., Flavio plans to continue his research on mammal evolution and how it has been affected by past and current climate change.

2022 A. Brazier Howell Award – Allison Brehm

This year the A. Brazier Howell Award is awarded to Allison Brehm from the University of Maine for her application entitled “Consequences of small mammal personalities for habitat selection, demographic rates, and the seed dispersal mutualism.” Allison Brehm is currently finishing her Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences at the University of Maine under the guidance of Dr. Alessio Mortelliti. Her dissertation explores the interface between intraspecific behavioral variation and forest ecology using small mammals (such as deer mice and southern red-backed voles) as model species. She focuses specifically on animal personalities, or consistent behavioral differences between conspecifics, as these can have broad-ranging ecological implications. Her work examines the influence of animal personality on habitat selection and demographic rates across modified forest landscapes and also investigates the propensity for small mammal personality traits to generate context-dependence in the seed dispersal mutualism. She is passionate about understanding how individual behavior can scale up to patterns that occur in populations and ecosystems, and she particularly enjoys working with small mammals and plant-granivore interactions. She will next pursue her research interests working as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. John Orrock at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2022 Elmer C. Birney Award – Douglas Njeri

This year the Elmer C. Birney Award is awarded to Douglas Njeri from the University of Wyoming for his application entitled “Disruption of an ant-plant mutualism alters predator-prey dynamics in an African savanna.” Douglas Njeri’s research interests span a range of topics in the ecology and conservation of African savannas, with emphasis on human-wildlife interactions and the integration of wildlife conservation into livestock production systems. For his Master’s work at the University of Nairobi, he combined GPS telemetry and field experiments to understand how the invasive big-headed ant reshapes dynamics between lions and their primary prey, plains zebra. Currently, he is a Ph.D. student in the Program in Ecology at the University of Wyoming, advised by Dr. Jacob Goheen. His dissertation project is centered on quantifying the effects of long-term pastoralism on landscape connectivity and resource use by wild mammals in Tsavo National Park and adjacent community conservancies. His work has been generously supported by the ASM’s African Research Fellowship, the Rufford Foundation, the University of Wyoming’s Biodiversity Institute, and the U.S. National Science Foundation. His future plans entail conserving savanna mammals and their habitats within Kenya, building collaborations with peers and mentors, and enhancing educational outreach.

2021 Albert R. & Alma Shadle Fellowship – Savannah Bartel

The 2021 recipient of the Albert R. and Alma Shadle award is Savannah Bartel of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For her graduate work in the Orrock Lab, Savannah has been working in the southeastern US to understand how human activities in both the past and present generate spatial variation in species interactions and their outcomes, with a focus on mammalian foraging behavior. She is specifically interested in the longleaf-pine woodland ecosystem, which is a critically endangered ecosystem and provides essential habitat to some endangered wildlife species. Longleaf-pine woodlands have the potential to be biodiversity hotspots because of their historically diverse understory plant communities. Since these woodlands host a suite of mammal species that play potentially important roles for the dispersal and persistence of plants, she studies a broad range of mammalian predators and prey to understand how their behavior shapes plant communities. She is particularly interested in how the overlay of past agricultural land use and contemporary disturbances in longleaf pine woodlands affects seed-granivore, plant-herbivore, and predator-prey interactions and determines the strength of trophic cascades. She is also interested in how human activities that change patch geometry, like the implementation of conservation corridors, affect mammalian species interactions and foraging decisions. She also studies the unique role of mesopredators as seed dispersal agents and how differences in coyote diets and social rank may affect this role. She aims to conduct research that satisfies her inherent curiosity about the natural world, is broadly informative to our understanding of how ecosystems operate, and can be applied to solve contemporary conservation problems.

2021 ASM Fellowship – Dana Green

The recipient of the 2021 American Society of Mammalogists Fellowship is Dana Green of the University of Regina. Dana Green has been a member of the ASM since 2015, and has attended every in-person meeting since joining the society. She was elected as a student representative for the ASM in 2017, and elected as a regular BOD member in 2020. Additionally she serves on the Informatics and Conservation Committee, and in 2021 was asked to join the ASM Vision Committee.  Along with the ASM Fellowship, Dana has been the recipient of the ASM Student in Science Policy Award, the E.O. Wilson Conservation Award from the Animal Behaviour Society, and funded a three year project through Environment and Climate Change Canada. Dana has published in journals such as the Journal of Mammalogy and Comparative Physiology among others, and a book chapter in 50 Years of Bat Research. Dana’s thesis work focuses on understanding the community ecology and movements of migratory bats in North America. The hoary (Lasiurus cinereus) and silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) can both migrate long distances, however they are not closely related and exhibit differences in wing morphologies indicative of foraging behaviour, suggesting that they occupy different niches in their ecosystems. Dana’s research will answer two questions: 1) How do two migratory bats partition resources to meet their requirements? 2) Are bats using landscape-level features to navigate for migration?