S5 Register


Jarol Fernando Vaca
The owner, Jarol Fernando Vaca, was born and raised in the Ecuadorian Amazon, in a little village named Misahualli, where he spent most of his childhood. At the age of 14, he was introduced to the local wildlife through a local bird survey being carried out by the students of the Jatun Sacha Biological Station. In future years this same station would prepare him in taking his first steps towards professional guiding.

After many years and working for almost all of the different ecolodges in the Ecuadorian Amazon, and having completed his last training as a naturalist at the Tiputini Biological Station, Fernando decided to establish his legacy in the Anthropological Huaorani Reserve, along the Shiripuno River.


Harold Greeney
My interests are broad and include A: natural history and larval behavior of skipper butterflies B: natural history and nesting behavior of neotropical birds, especially passerines and apodiforms C: natural history and population dynamics of plant-held aquatic habitats (phytotelmata), especially in fallen palm bracts. Using natural history and behavioral observations, my research focuses on creating the building blocks necessary for the development of broad evolutionary theories and the implementation of sound conservation practices.

Yanayacu Biological Station & Center for Creative Studies

Rudy Gelis
Yanayacu Natural History Research Group

Ryan Hill
My research combines natural history and fieldwork with laboratory studies to learn about biological diversity of butterflies. I'm interested in butterflies because they are a relatively well-known group of insects, rich in diversity and exhibit excellent visual examples of things like crypsis, aposematism and mimicry. For my dissertation research I'm studying unpalatable mimetic butterflies (Nymphalidae, Ithomiinae) in eastern Ecuador to learn about their ecology and the evolution of mimicry. One project addresses whether these butterflies are segregated by color pattern and microhabitat. A related project investigates how these butterfly's color patterns interact with background colors and ambient light to make them cryptic or conspicuous to predators. My other dissertation projects investigate whether mimicry extends to morphology and kinematics (locomotor mimicry) by studying the evolution of these traits.  Other interests and projects include systematics and life history studies of ithomiines and other nymphalids. Currently I'm working on the systematics of the Mechanitis mazaeus species group and an ithomiine phylogeny for species in eastern Ecuador (in collaboration with Andy Brower and Chris Jiggins, Marianne Elias and Keith Willmott).

University of California, Berkeley

Tom Walla
My research interests are focused on understanding tropical ecosystems. Characterized by their exceptionally high species richness and awe-inspiring interactions, tropical forests present a special opportunity for biological investigation. Traditionally my work has concerned field projects designed to assess community structure and species diversity of the upper Amazon in Ecuador. Specifically I have been interested in characterizing species assemblages in space and time. For example, using nymphalid butterfly samples, my colleagues and I have clearly shown that canopy and understory faunas are distinctly different in terms of their composition. That is to say that there exist 'canopy species' and 'understory species' within the same forest habitat. Furthermore, the seasonal fluctuations of the two groups are temporally offset, with canopy species showing 'springtime' population explosions before those of the understory.

This study has also provided great insight for understanding the scaling of tropical butterfly communities. Collaborative work to this end has demonstrated the spatial scaling of these communities is ~1 kilometer, and that the lion's share of the spatial and temporal variance in population density exhibited by the community is due largely to differences among species as opposed to within species. This aspect of ecology has been little explored in the tropics and hold's great promise for future work.

Mesa State College, Grand Junction, Colorado

Phil DeVries
My research program relies on a vigorous field-based approach with a strong orientation toward ecological and evolutionary topics. I use experimental and quantitative perspectives to explore general and specific questions to understand biological diversification and habitat conservation. My background and training includes a broad interest in comparative biology, systematics, evolution, behavioral ecology, and natural history, but is very strong in the biology of butterflies.

The questions motivating my interests concern the interplay among different organisms and habitats, and what factors contribute to the organization, patterns and processes of biological diversification. Several types of questions especially intrigue me. What factors are important to the maintenance of biodiversity among areas? What measures and focal groups are meaningful to understanding biological diversification? Under what circumstances do symbiotic associations occur, and what factors are fundamental to the evolution and maintenance of these associations?

University of New Orleans