Bette holds a joint appointment as the Director of the Tropical Conservation in the Center for Latin American Studies and Professor in the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. She came to UF in 2011 following an 18 month detail as Director of the Division of Environmental Biology at the National Science Foundation. Her research focuses on understanding the importance of biodiversity in tropical systems, especially the ecological role of animals as seed dispersers, and the potential consequences of global change on distribution of plants and animals. She is also investigating the evolutionary ecology of lek-mating systems in birds and how the spatial ecology of females influences mate choice decisions and male reproductive strategies. In recent years, much of her field research has been conducted in the Ecuadorian Amazon, although other research sites include Atlantic forests of Brazil, Andes of Colombia, and tropical wet forests of Australia. Her research has been primarily supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and National Geographic Society, while program grants have come from a number of sources including USAID, Christensen Fund, NSF, Compton Foundation, Conservation Food and Health, among others. See Bette’s CV here.  See this video to hear Bette discussing some of her seed dispersal work during an OTS interview.

Cesar Cestari
Cesar CestariPostdoctoral Fellow
Cesar is interested in integrating sexual selection and foraging theory to better understand the behavior of birds at leks. In particular, how foraging behavior impacts the reproductive success and physiological conditions of males on their display court. Cesar completed his PhD in December 2012 at UNESP-Rio Claro in Sao Paulo state. He is currently supported by FAPESP for his post-doctoral work. In this work, he will split his time between the Loiselle lab at UF and Marco Pizo’s lab in UNESP
Flavia Montaño
Flavia MontañoPhD Candidate
Flavia is interested in how species and functional traits vary along environmental gradients, with a particular focus on species and traits associated with plant-animal mutualisms. Flavia is in the first year of her PhD and is developing her dissertation project ideas. She completed her MS degree at the Universidad Mayor de San Andres in La Paz. Flavia is supported by a University of Florida Alumni Fellowship
Farah Carrasco
Farah CarrascoPhD Candidate
Farah is interested in how animals respond to human disturbance and land use practices in tropical forests. Her past work investigated the effectiveness of “natural canopy bridges” in reducing the fragmentation effects of pipelines on monkeys and other mammals found in the canopies of tropical forests. Farah is in the first year of her PhD and is developing her dissertation project ideas. She completed her MS degree at the La Molina University in Lima. Farah is supported by a Fulbright award and the SNRE, WEC and TCD programs at the University of Florida
Michael Esbach
Michael EsbachPhD Candidate
Michael is broadly interested in using interdisciplinary and systems-level approaches to understand resilience in coupled human-natural systems. Supported by a UF Graduate Student Fellowship through SNRE, Michael hopes to explore the role of ecosystems, culture, and values in community responses to environmental pressures in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Prior to graduate study, Michael worked in a variety of settings (Solomon Islands, Ecuador, Kenya, and more) to combine scientific tools with local knowledge and participation to co-develop solutions for sustainable marine and terrestrial management
Javiera Alarcon-Valenzuela
Javiera Alarcon-ValenzuelaPhD Student
Javi is working with understanding disease dynamics in biodiverse communities, in particular, she is focusing on avian malaria in Neotropical birds. She is interested in integrating ecological theories with epidemiology and developing mathematical and statistical tools to approach these kind of questions. She has just finished the first year of her PhD and she completed her Bachelor’s degree at Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador
Diego Garcia Olaechea
Diego Garcia OlaecheaPhD Student
In a broad sense, Diego is interested in the ecology and conservation of endemics bird of the Dry Forest of northwestern Peru, one of the largest communities of restricted species range in the world. He wants to investigate how the land use changes and climate change are affecting the abundance, distribution and demographic patterns on this bird community. Diego is starting his Ph.D. in Fall 2016, and will be co-advised by Scott Robinson. He completed a Bachelor’s degree at the Universidad Nacional de Piura in Peru, and is being supported by a Fulbright scholarship.
Vanessa Luna
Vanessa LunaMSc Student
Vanessa is interested in plant-animal interactions in Amazonian forests, especially seed dispersal by large mammals. In addition, she is interested in evaluating the effectiveness of private and communal conservation projects as well as in creating efforts to expand scientific information on biodiversity to spaces outside the academic context. She finished her Bachelor of Science studies at La Molina National University in Lima a few years ago. Vanessa starts her Masters in Latin American Studies with a specialization in Tropical Conservation and Development in Fall 2017.