Organization for Tropical Studies Announces winners of the 9th Annual Student 
Paper Award

This year's winner is Benton N. Taylor from Columbia University for his paper 
"Nitrogen-fixing trees inhibit growth of regenerating Costa Rican rainforests" 
published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, a 
collaboration with his advisor, Duncan N. L. Menge, and with Robin L. Chazdon 
of the University of Connecticut.   Ben's study focused on the growth and 
survival rates of nitrogen-fixing and non-fixing trees during forest 
regeneration, using annual census data gathered by Chazdon since 1987on plots 
at La Selva, an OTS research station in Costa Rica.  Nitrogen-fixing trees were 
thought to be advantageous to the growth of neighboring trees due to the 
increased availability of nitrogen in soils around them. In contrast to 
expectation, Ben's analysis showed that non-fixing trees with more 
nitrogen-fixing neighbors grew slower than when they have fewer N-fixing 
neighbors, demonstrating that these trees actually inhibited rainforest 
recovery at their study sites.

Two students received Honorary Mention. One is Natalie S. Christian from 
Indiana University for her paper "Exposure to the leaf litter microbiome of 
healthy adults protects seedlings from pathogen damage," published in 
Proceedings of the Royal Society B.  Studying the tropical cacao tree at the 
Smithsonian Institution's Barro Colorado Island facility, Natalie demonstrated 
that exposure to leaf litter from healthy adult cacao trees significantly 
enhanced pathogen resistance in conspecific seedlings. This effect was 
attributable to the transmitted endophyte community, which enriched the 
seedling microbiome with component microbial species that enhanced host 
pathogen resistance.  The work was co-authored with her advisor, Keith Clay, 
and two Smithsonian staff scientists. Natalie is an alum of the OTS course 
Tropical Biology: An Ecological Approach.

The other Honorary Mention goes to Hannah Frank from Stanford University for 
her paper "Phylogeny, Traits, and Biodiversity of a Neotropical Bat Assemblage: 
Close Relatives Show Similar Responses to Local Deforestation." published in 
the American Naturalist.  Working in the dry season at Las Cruses Biology 
Station, another OTS facility, she and her coworkers were able to catch over 
5000 bats of 42 species over a five year period. Comparing forest reserves, 
forest fragments, and coffee plantations at a very fine vegetation scale, 
closely related bat species show similar responses to habitat changes. The 
paper was co-authored with her mentor, Elizabeth A. Hadley, and Gretchen C. 
Daily, who nominated her for this award.

The Committee was Kimberly G. Smith, Chair, University of Arkansas; Erin 
Kuprewicz, University of Connecticut; Elisabeth Arevalo, Providence College; 
and Luke Browne, the winner of last year's competition and now at University of 
California, Los Angeles.  The Committee would like to thank all the students 
that submitted packets for consideration.  "This year we once again received a 
great group of nominations" said Smith.

Kimberly G. Smith
Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701
Phone:  479-575-6359  fax: 479-575-4010

Reply via email to