Research Interest:


Herbivory is an important biotic factor that influences nutrient cycling in tropical forests. Foliage removal by herbivores has direct and indirect effects on the water relations of plants, the light intensity inside the forest, and the physical and chemical properties of the soil around the nest area.

The purpose of my M.S project is to identify individual trees in a Panamanian seasonal forest that are using leaf-cutter ant nest nutrient resources. By using a stable isotope tracer (15N) in leaves fed to leaf cutter ants (Atta Colombica) and assaying trees close to the nest for 15N, we will trace individual trees that are using ant nest resources. Once these trees are identified, growth rates and nutrient content specific to these individuals will be compared with those of trees of the same size and species, not using nest resources. The project will be performed in Barro Colorado Island, Panama. The environmental condition of this specific island, are optimal for the growth of leaf cutter ant nests of Atta Colombica. This study will differ from previous studies in that the species of ant studied Atta Colombica, deposit the waste material at the soil surface. Hence, nutrients will be more readily available to trees neighboring the nest.


Maria Camila Pinzon

Graduate Student

Department of Biology,

University of Miami

1301 Memorial Dr

Coral Gables, FL 33124, USA



Maria’s Curriculum Vitae

Stable Isotopes project at FIU