Graduate Students, Faculty Take Part in Tropical Studies Workshop
Jason Tullis (from left), associate professor of geosciences; graduate student Isadora Lima Coelho; graduate student Laura Walker; and Steve Stephenson, research professor of biological sciences
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Graduate students and faculty at the University of Arkansas participated recently in an international workshop intended to identify emerging issues in tropical sciences.
Steve Stephenson, research professor of biological sciences; Jason Tullis, associate professor of geosciences; and biological sciences graduate students Laura Walker and Isadora Lima Coelho represented the university at the meeting, which was funded by the Organization for Tropical Studies and held at the La Selva Biological Station in northern Costa Rica.
The workshop, organized by Stephenson and titled “The role of mycetozoans in ecosystem restoration in the tropics,” drew together scientists across a range of different disciplines, institutions and countries to holistically address tropical-science issues. Through this program, the Organization for Tropical Studies aims to advance multi-disciplinary, multi-scale efforts working on cutting-edge issues that have the ability to transform tropical science and education.
The effect of forest fragmentation and habitat destruction on the distribution and ecology of larger organisms — vascular plants and vertebrate animals for example — has been the subject of numerous studies, but this is not the case for microscopic organisms such as mycetozoans, which are better known as slime molds. The primary purpose of the workshop was to develop the methodological framework needed to use mycetozoans as models to monitor and assess the impacts of habitat destruction (and subsequent restoration) in tropical forests.
Participants in the workshop also included three people who studied under Stephenson at the University of Arkansas received their doctoral degrees from the U of A: Carlos Rojas of the University of Costa Rica, Adam Rollins of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee; and Katherine Winsett of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville.
Steve Stephenson, research professor
Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
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