Elon University / Today at Elon University / Biology students, a faculty member presents research at two international conferences on animal behavior

Biology majors Reb Carranza ’22 and Alana Evora ’23 presented their research at recent International Conferences in Animal Behaviour. Their teacher, biology faculty member Jane Hamel, presented research at one conference and led a mentoring program for undergraduates at the other.

Biology majors Reb Carranza ’22 and Alana Evora ’23 and Associate Professor of Biology Jane Hamel have attended recent international conferences on animal behavior.

Carranza presented research on insect behavior and communication at the Animal Behavior Society’s annual conference held at the Crowne Plaza Kurobichi Convention Center in San Jose, Costa Rica from July 20 to July 23.

Evora presented her research for the Almost Lumen Prize at the 3rd International Congress of Biology held at the Marine Biology Station in Piran, Slovenia from September 19-22. Hamel has co-authored three presentations in Biotremology and led the Charles H. United University Extension Program at the Animal Behavior Society conference.

Reb Carranza ’22 received the Genesis Award for Best College Poster at the Animal Behavior Society’s annual conference in San Jose, Costa Rica.

At the Society for Animal Behavior’s conference, Carranza presented a poster entitled “Examining the possibility of evolutionary variation in a plant-feeding insect by describing host plant use and vibratory mating signals”, in which she described substrate-transmitted vibrational cues and host use by a species of plant-feeding insect in the Northwest Territory. Carolina Piedmont. Carranza’s presentation was honored by the Animal Behavior Society with the Genesis Award for Best College Poster at the conference.

Also at the Society for Animal Behavior’s conference, Hamel led a group undergraduate mentoring program (Charles H. Program). The program engages the group of students in a pre-conference orientation workshop, discussions and excursions during the conference, and a virtual peer mentoring group after the conference. Hamel co-chairs the Society’s program.

Alana Evora ('23), working on demo machines during Elon SURE.
Alana Evora ’23, working on demo machines during Elon SURE.

At the Biotremology conference, Alana Evora gave a short oral presentation titled “An Open Source Tool for High-Resolution Vibrational Machining,” in which she described and demonstrated a software tool developed in the open source Python language.

The text will facilitate an experimental approach used by many researchers studying vibratory communication in animals. The current tool used by this research community requires a proprietary software license, which imposes an economic barrier to research in this area. The Python script will reduce the economic barriers to this type of search. Evora’s presentation included co-authors Hamel and Rex Cockcroft of the University of Missouri.

Hamel gave an oral presentation entitled “Studying Multimodal Communication Using Multiple Approaches: Revealing Signal Functions in a New Tropical Cathidide”. The presentation described the use of acoustic and substrate signals transmitted by focal insect species in the field, as well as findings from experiments in which hypotheses about signaling functions were tested.

The studies in this presentation were conducted by Elon biology alumni Alina Iwan ’19 and Jean Ross ’20, who were both Elon College fellows. Co-authors included Ewan and Ross, as well as Ciara Kiernan, Madeleine Gamble and Hannah ter Hofstede of Dartmouth College. The research was conducted at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on Barro Island, Colorado, Panama.

Hamel also co-authored an oral presentation in Biotremology with Ciara Kernan, a doctoral student at Dartmouth College. Sharon Martinson, Postdoctoral Researcher at Dartmouth; Hannah ter Hofstede, faculty member at Dartmouth; Laurel Sims, associate director at Cornell University’s Center for Bioacoustics Conservation. The presentation was titled, “Comparing investment in airborne and substrate-borne signaling across katydids pseudophylline,” and this team’s recent findings on the use of acoustic and vibrational cues by several species of katydids are synthesized in a comparative evolutionary context.

Alana Evora ’23 and Reb Carranza ’22 doing summer fieldwork.

The work of Hamel and Elon students on Barrow Island, Colorado has been supported by the Elon Center for Research on Global Engagement, the Glen Raven Fellowships, the Elon College Fellows, the Dean’s Office of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Elon Undergraduate Research Program, and the Acoustic Society of America. Evora’s work on a Python script has been supported by the Lumen and Honors Fellows Programs and the Undergraduate Research Program. Carranza’s work on vibratory signals and host use by a plant-feeding insect was supported by the Elon University Research Program.

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