Research Interests    


My scientific research interests lie in community ecology.  I am interested in dispersal biology and the consequences for successional change and community structure.  Through my MS research, I became particularly interested in the genetic consequences for plants adapted to various dispersal vectors.  I am also interested in the application of GIS technology to explore these questions in a spatially explicit context.

I am also interested in creative methods of teaching complex concepts in ecology and developing critical thinking skills.  These include cartoon illustrations, field trips, science fairs and presentations delivered to non-scientific audiences.


RECENT PROJECTS

I traveled to SE Asia from May - December, 2007.  While there, I participated in an expedition to the Krakatau Islands in Indonesia with a group from Nottingham University.   I also worked with Sabrina Russo on a project examining the ecological basis of species coexistence in the hyper-diverse Lambir National Forest in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.  In addition, I traveled by bicycle with the Cyclown Circus, making street circus shows.



MASTERS RESEARCH
- University of Miami -

"Does wind or demography shape genetic structure in two lineages of Antillean bats?"
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For my MS thesis, I  investigated genetic structure and gene flow of the buffy flower bat (Erophylla sezekorni) and Waterhouse's leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus waterhousii) (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae).  E. sezekorni is endemic to the Greater Antilles and Bahamas while M. waterhousii occurs in this region as well on mainland Mexico.  I used microsatellite markers to explore genetic substructure and asymmetric gene flow among genetic populations.  I used GIS software and anisotropic cost modeling using wind data to construct a measure of effective distance to evaluate the relationship between directional gene flow and wind currents.

This manuscript is currently being revised for re-submission to Molecular Ecology.



PUBLICATIONS

Muscarella R. and T.H. Fleming. 2007. The Role of Frugivorous Bats in Tropical Forest Succession. Biological Reviews 82(4): 573-590.


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Erophylla sezekorni - photo by Merlin Tuttle