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Research Goals

An adult grotto salamander

Mexican Freetail Bats
The emergence of a massive colony of Mexican Freetail bats in Oklahoma
I am interested in the community ecology of microhabitats. For example, I have investigated: (1) forest canopy communities inhabiting plant held waters (phytotelmata) in Madagascar, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador, (2) cave communities inhabiting subterranean waterways of the Ozarks, (3) termite mound communities of the Brazilian Cerrado, (4) leaf litter communities of the upper Amazon Basin, and (5) splash zone communities in xeric habitats of Central Brazil. I am particularly interested in environments that pose challenges to the organisms living there and the adaptations (physiological, morphological, and behavioral) observed in those organisms to meet the challenging circumstances. For example, forest canopies challenge organisms seeking to exploit those habitats in offering few sources of fresh water. Wind and direct exposure to bright sunlight enhance the effects of the circumstance. Plant held waters become key resources. I am interested in the community of organisms living in and around those resources and their solutions to challenges such as fluctuating water levels and drought. I am also interested in external factors that influence these communities.

I have been fortunate to have worked out on the open ocean on roughly 20 research cruises with several deep sea biologists including Dr. Tracey Sutton, Dr. Jon Moore, Dr. Jose Torres, Dr. Michael Vecchione, Dr. Tamara Frank, and Dr. Heather Bracken-Grissom. These wonderful opportunities have allowed me to study pelagic wildlife including eel larvae, anglerfishes and the glowing microorganisms they host as symbiotes, and bioluminescence systems. I am a member of the Chinese Cavefish Working group and have been exploring the caves of south China since 2011 with Dr. Yahui Zhao. I have been working with indigenous groups in the Peruvian Amazon in developing ways to help them retain rainforest on their traditional lands. Through a program hosted by my home institution (the San Antonio Zoo) we are looking into pathways to develop predictable revenue streams for communities living in rainforest that will enable them to avoid the sale of logging and mineral extraction rights. For ten years, I have worked with Chilean biologists to help document emergent infectious disease in amphibians inhabiting the temperate rainforests there and in developing captive assurance colonies of the critically endangered species.

Conservation is what I spend my days with, and it will be the thing I am doing the day I check out.

© 2017, Danté Fenolio
Last updated August 13, 2017 2:53 PM