Team

Angelica L. Gonzalez

Principal investigator

Angélica L. González 

I am a broadly curious ecologist, but my research interests are all tied together by the understanding of the ways in which the flux, storage and transfer of energy and matter affect trophic interactions and ecosystem processes. I use experiments, observation, data synthesis, and a variety of analytical tools (e.g., stable isotopes) too answer questions that integrate community and ecosystem ecology. Until December 2014, I was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Zoology and the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, Canada. I completed my Ph.D. at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where I examined the role of nutrient inputs from fog on the structure and functioning of coastal desert ecosystems.

Postdoctoral scholars

Olivier Dézerald. Postdoc

At the interface between the physiology of organisms and community ecology, my research aims to predict the structural and functional responses of food webs to various nOlivierD[1]atural or human-driven environmental changes. To this end, I am driven to combine field observations, in situ experiments and modelling approaches across gradients of biological and spatial scales. Prior to joining the Gonzalez lab, I used the aquatic and terrestrial communities living within tank-bromeliad as model study systems. These very exciting micro-ecosystems offer the possibility to manipulate and incorporate the full complexity of natural communities in small-scale experiments, while their geographic distribution from Central to South America (including the Caribbean islands) allows inferring general patterns.

Understanding responses of natural communities to ongoing and future environmental changes is a key concern in modern ecology; however, we still have a lot to learn from paleoecology by exploring how ancient communities have been shaped by past climate. My postdoctoral project, in the Gonzalez lab, aims to assess the response of past and modern food webs to changes in precipitation. To tackle this question, we will use an overlooked study model in paleoecological studies, namely the invertebrate deposits found in fossil and sub-fossil rodent middens, which span the last 50,000 years. Time is a key dimension in this postdoctoral project and a previously missing axis in my research. I will develop new approaches that explicitly integrate time in ecological studies about ancient and modern invertebrate communities to better predict future changes (lags in individuals to communities’ responses; differential rates of recovery among functional groups within communities; potential changes in organisms’ body size). This project is in collaboration with Dr. Claudio Latorre from Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile and the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity, and Dr. Julio Betancourt from the USGS and University of Arizona.

When I am not in the lab, I like to bring my insatiable curiosity wherever I go (travelling, hiking, soccer, volleyball, drawing, and painting).

 

Graduate students

Mark Nessel. PhD student (CCIB)

I received my bachelors degree in Biology from Drexel University. I am interested in a wide range of ecological topics. Before joining the González lab I had the opportunity to participate in a variety of ecological projects.  These included conservation work with ground nesting birds in Central Florida, population studies of primates in West Africa and phylogenetic research with flightless Tiger Beetles of the Southwestern United States,  I am excited about help uncover the mechanisms by which ecosystems are governed.

 

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Ryan Walker. Master Student

During my time as an undergrad, I focused mainly on the morphology of mosquito larvae, resulting in the creation of a dichotomous key currently being used by the Hunterdon County Mosquito and Vector Control Program. Since then, my research interests have shifted towards understanding how human-induced environmental changes affect the nutritional needs of predatory arthropods and their top-down effects  on ecosystems. My thesis project is focused on exploring the effects of temperature changes on the nutritional needs and feeding behavior of spiders.

 

Morgan Kelly. Master student.

My research interests are focused on trait-based ecology and evolutionary biology.I’m specifically interested in the role of intraspecific variation as a driver of the evolution of species and community structure in a changing world. My current project focuses on the muldimensional trait niche of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) using key functional traits: elemental content (C, N, and P) and body size.

 

Caleb Gilbert. Master student.

Caleb is co-adviced by Daniel Shain and Angélica L. González. I am interested in ecology and molecular biology. My project combines ecological approaches and metagenomics to understand patterns of taxonomic and functional diversity of microorganisms across spatial scales. For my research, I am using pitcher plant aquatic communities as model study system.

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Katrina Dewitt. Master student. 

I just graduated with a major in Biology and a minor in Chemistry from Rutgers-Camden. This Fall 2018 I will start a Master in Biology looking at the stoichiometry niche of aquatic communities across spatial scales and environmental gradients.

 

JulianaJuliana S. Leal. PhD Student. Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) Brazil

Juliana is co-advised by Vinicius Farjalla and Angélica L. González.
I am particularly interested in how changes in community structure translate into changes in how ecosystems function. For my Masters, I studied the independent and interactive effects of rainfall changes and leaf litter diversity on CO2 dynamics in aquatic communities. I am currently studying how light availability influence regime shifts in energy pathways (i.e., leaf litter vs. algae) and ecosystem stability in aquatic communities. In my research, I use tank-bromeliads as natural model systems, because these confer high replicability, and allow for easy experimental manipulation to test ecological theory.

 

100_1335Sandra Benavides, PhD Student. Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP) Brazil

Sandra is co-advised by Gustavo Romero and Angélica L. González.
I am particularly interested in how external stressors affect community structure and ecosystem functioning. For my Masters, I studied the effects of changes in precipitation and resource quality on aquatic communities of tank-bromeliads. Using principles from metabolic theory of ecology and ecological stoichiometry, I am currently studying the response of aquatic communities and nutrient cycling to changes in environmental temperature and nutrient fertilization. For this study, I am using field-warming experiments crossed with nutrient fertilization.

 

Undergraduate students

Alexis Brickner

As a current undergraduate student at Rutgers-Camden, I am on the Honors Thesis Program. 

Rachael VanCuren

Richard Vereneck

 

Former students

Tiffany LutzTiffany Lutz. Master student

As an undergrad I researched the competitive effects of non-native and native fish on larval stream salamander growth and behavior. I just graduated from a Master in Biology Program where I studied the prey capturing and feeding efficiency of predators along environmental gradients. I am interested in predator-prey interactions, wildlife conservation, and the impacts of invasive species on native organisms.

 

 

 

Undergraduates

Marissa Minardi 

Ryan Curry

Angela Wollard

Claudia Vaca

Rachel Carr

 

 

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