From BiodivBorneo09

Jump to: navigation, search
Sometimes science requires double the effort, and double the headlamps.


Who am I?

My name is Shana Caro.

I'm from NY, and I'm junior at Harvard University (2011). I'm concentrating in Human Evolutionary Biology with a track in Mind, Brain, Behavior; specifically, I'm interested in differences in cognition between human and non-human primates. I'm also getting a secondary field in Moral and Political Philosophy.

I love to play sports. I'm on the women's club rugby team at Harvard, where I'm an inside center (although next year I'm moving to flyhalf). I've also played ultimate frisbee and boxed at Harvard, and I used to play soccer and do karate in high school.

I don't currently have a job due to layoffs in the library system at Harvard (the machines took my job! grr), but I'm going to try to volunteer at the aquarium in Boston next year. I'll also be a PAF (peer advising fellow) for freshman starting next year, and I'm really excited about that :)

This course has inspired me to pursue a PhD in biology focusing on animal cognition and social behavior after I graduate. I am also getting certified as an open water diver as a result of the time we spent studying coral reef ecology at Gaya Island. BoB'09 has given me a greater appreciation for the natural world and the processes that shape that world.

What Do I Study? Formicinae!

My focal taxon! Formicinae- the most badass of ants

These guys are a subfamily of ants that can shoot formic acid out of their gasters. This acid tastes like battery acid when pooted. They are characterized by a single petiole connecting their thorax and abdomen and by the substitution of an acidophore for a stinger. Formicinae are the second most common ant subfamily on Borneo, which makes my taxon super easy to study despite their defense mechanisms.

What Else Do I Study? Projects!


Carnivorous plants!!!


Nepenthes gracilis is a carnivorous plant species that traps insects inside specialized leaves known as pitchers. Pitcher morphology is highly variable in pitcher length and capacity, and insect yield within pitchers is also variable. We surveyed three sites with varying habitats: roadside, next to a trail, and in secondary forest. We measured the effects of the environmental factors of sunlight levels and soil type on pitcher morphology as well as insect yield. We also compared pitcher morphology to insect yield. Our results indicate a strong correlation between location and morphological traits; there was likewise a strong correlation between pitcher capacity and insect yield. Overall, our data indicate that pitcher capacity and length are the mechanisms driving variation in insect yield, with environmental factors as the ultimate cause of morphological changes.

Picture courtesy of Rhett Harrison


Team Barnacle/Rope Ecology/Danger/Cowboy Up presents an empirical test of the intermediate disturbance hypothesis on the rope ecosystems of Pulau Gaya:

The intermediate disturbance hypothesis states that high biodiversity is possible through intermittent disruptions to an environment. The rope ecosystem near Pulau Gaya differs in levels of disturbance, age, and ocean environment type, and therefore is a suitable model for testing this ecological theory. We measured species richness of several rope sites in the Pulau Gaya region varying in the aforementioned characteristics and looked for evidence of ecological patterns of succession. We hypothesized that we would see greater species richness in regions of medium disturbance levels based on the intermediate disturbance hypothesis. Contrary to our expectations, we found that species richness was not dependent on disturbance level or age of rope section. Environment type, however, did have a noteworthy effect on species richness, although the relationship was not statistically significant (p=0.06). In conclusion, we did not find evidence supporting the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, possibly due to our small sample size and our inability to quantify disturbance levels.



Final Manuscript for Colonization Ecology of Rotting Fruit Resources in Maliau Basin

Fruit resources are sporadic in the rain forest, so any new fruit resource will be quickly colonized and exploited by frugivores. This experiment aimed to study colonization patterns of differently sized fruit patches in the forest, looking for variation in number of species, community composition, and early successional patters of species in different sized patches. We tested this by placing fruit resources (a mixture of rotting apples and eggplant) of varying size classes along transects and watching the colonizers over both twenty-four and two hour periods. After using the analysis of similarities test, we did not find significant variation among communities between different patch sizes. Furthermore, there was not an obvious successional pattern within short term study data; flies and ants colonized the patch at similar numbers throughout the six hour study, though there was a slight increase in both lepidoptera and coleoptera over time. We did find a significant pattern in nocturnal consumer foraging: smaller patches were preferentially consumed over larger. This study can be used as a pilot project to further investigate colonization patters in the forest, such as doing a longer study with twenty-four hour observation and nocturnal frugivore exclusion to investigate arthropod community composition over a longer and more precise time frame.

2/3 of Team Rotting Fruit chowing down on some scrumptious apple ganoosh