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Julissa Irizarry performing bird surveys on the island of Puerto Rico

Carlo Joglar awarded inaugural Maskalick Biodiversity Seed Grant

29 November 2021

Tomás A. Carlo Joglar, associate professor of biology at Penn State, has been awarded the inaugural David G. Maskalick and Kathleen A. Maskalick Biodiversity Healthcare Seed Grant by the Eberly College of Science Office for Innovation.

The Maskalick Biodiversity Healthcare Seed Grant Program is designed to provide financial support to researchers collecting preliminary data and to stimulate research on biodiversity in the college. David Maskalick, a 1978 graduate in biochemisty, and Kathleen Maskalick established the program to promote the protection of biodiversity and support the prevention of mass extinctions on earth.

Grants from the program will aim to further knowledge regarding the health and survival of all life and natural resources, humanity, and commerce. Carlo Joglar was awarded the grant for his project titled: “Evaluating the effects of plant functional traits and outreach on biodiversity and human responses to reforestation actions on tropical urban landscapes.”

In his project, Carlo Joglar will conduct landscape-level experiments to test how plant functional traits and community outreach affect native animal biodiversity in urban landscapes on the island of Puerto Rico. The funds will be used to conduct pilot surveys in all or most of 20 pre-selected experimental urban areas to talk with families and gauge their willingness to participate in the experiment.

Julissa Irizarry
Julissa Irizarry

“The Maskalick seed grant funds were instrumental in helping us complete close to 300 bird surveys in 20 field sites—urban residential areas, with three transects within each site—and in reaching out to the communities within these survey areas in order to ask about their willingness to participate in an urban greening experiment,” said Julissa Irizarry, a graduate student in Carlo Joglar’s laboratory whose Ph.D. project is supported by the grant. “This data will give us a response rate, which will help us evaluate the feasibility of the project as we envision it, as well as providing important supporting data for the grant Tomás and I are working on for the NSF.”

Carlo Joglar’s lab studies animal-plant interactions with an emphasis on mutualistic seed dispersal by frugivores (i.e., fruit-eating animals that disperse seeds effectively). They use field-based research, experimentation, and models to answer fundamental questions about the patterning, organization, and resilience of plant and animal communities.

Carlo Joglar has been a research associate at the Museo de Historia Natural de Perú at Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima, Perú since 2014 and a research associate at Powdermill Nature Reserve at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History since 2013. Prior to joining the faculty at Penn State in 2008, Carlo Joglar was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington in Seattle from 2005 to 2008. He earned a doctoral degree in ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2005, a master’s degree in zoology at North Carolina State University in 1999, and a bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez in 1996.