Our lab members’ interests range from trying to understand the consequences of deforestation in the Amazon for plants to how international collaboration influences the impact of research papers.  Below are some of what we consider our major accomplishments in four areas of research, with links description of the results pdf’s of the articles.

it’s a work in progress, with more to come (h/t to Ed Yong for the suggestion).

The effects of deforestation in the Amazon on plant populations

Heliconia acuminata is pollinated by Phaethornis hummingbirds.
Heliconia acuminata is pollinated by Phaethornis hummingbirds (Photo by E. Bruna)

Herbivory, Seed Predation, plant demography, and the Conservation of Brazil’s Cerrado

Caterpillar eating one of the species studied by our lab - the Cerrado's famous Solanum lycocarpum, whose fruits are dispersed by Maned Wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus). Photo by F. Mundim.
Caterpillar eating one of the species studied by our lab – the Cerrado’s famous Solanum lycocarpum, whose fruits are dispersed by Maned Wolves (Chrysocyon brachyurus). (Photo by F. Mundim).

Mutualisms between Amazonian ants and plants

Maieta guianensis, an Amazonian myrmecophyte studied by the Bruna Lab (Photo: B. Inouye).
Maieta guianensis, an Amazonian myrmecophyte studied by the Bruna Lab & Collaborators (Photo: B. Inouye).
  • Sometimes your biggest accomplishment is being one of the first to demonstrate the obvious. Many tropical plants in the tropical rain forests have special structures in which specialized ant species establish colonies, and in return defend the plant agains herbivores (these plants are known as ‘myrmecophytes’ or ‘ant-plants’. Although it was known that myrmecophytes could host different species of ants, it was generally assumed that the ants provided similar services to their host plants. We showed this is definitely not the case.
  • It turns out workers of some ant species residing in plants don’t recognize the chemical volatiles emitted by plants when they are attacked [Part 1Part 2, Part 3], so they don’t rush out to defend the plant. Or maybe they recognize them, but just ignore them…we’re not sure about that).
  • Ultimately, these differences can lead to reduced population growth rates if you lose the ‘good’ parter and it is replaced by the ‘poor’ partner, even if you only have the poorer partner for a short time period.

SCIENCE: how we do it, where we do it, and why some countries or individuals are more productive than others

Participants in the 1962 Neotropical Botany Conference held at St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. It was at this conference that the Association for Tropical Biology (now Association for Tropical Biology & Conservation, ATBC) was founded.  Bottom photo: Members of the ATBC Executive Committee at the 2014 in Cairns, Australia.  These photos highlight the demographic shift in the ATBC's membership, which is also reflected in how the proportion of women on the Editorial Board of its journal Biotropica has changed over time.  To see how the representation of women on editorial boards of 10 journals in environmental biology changed from 1985-2013, see Cho et al.
Participants in the 1962 Neotropical Botany Conference held at St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago. It was at this conference that the Association for Tropical Biology (now Association for Tropical Biology & Conservation, ATBC) was founded. Bottom photo: Members of the ATBC Executive Committee at the 2014 in Cairns, Australia. These photos highlight the demographic shift in the ATBC’s membership, which is also reflected in how the proportion of women on the Editorial Board of its journal Biotropica has changed over time. To see how the representation of women on editorial boards of 10 journals in environmental biology changed from 1985-2013, see Cho et al.

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