Below are summaries of selected writings as well as links to PDFs.
To Dance with the Devil in the Pale Moonlight (Song Sparrow, April 1998)
Magic is most certainly not the stuff of dreams, fairy tails, or even David Copperfield stage acts. Magic is a reality, one which can only be experienced at night in the bright glow of a tropical moon or under the pitch black canopy of a rainforest. It is, some say–a fearsome reality, only experienced by the most intrepid of naturalists. Turn off your flashlight and you will experience a darkness blacker than you have ever known, punctuated only by the glowing dots of bioluminescent arthropods and odd sounds that would give even grown men nightmares.
Dancing for Sex in the Rainforest (Song Sparrow, March 1998)
Though advertising for sex often results in a jail sentence in most areas of the United States, these advertisements are highly conspicuous and visible daily in the animal world. You may not often think about it, but sexual innuendo is all around you. If you are one of many who glance up from the morning paper to enjoy the cardinals in your backyard, you are only enjoying the result of a combination of sex and time. The bright red plumage of the male cardinal does not just “happen” to exist, but is an example of a “secondary sexual characteristic”, a trait (in this case, sexually dichromatic coloration) which has evolved over time due to sexual selection.
Antbird Aggregations – The Dynamics of Foraging in Formicarids (Song Sparrow, February 1998)
Tamia anangu is the name the Quichua people of eastern Ecuador use for the army ant, Eciton burchelli. In a 1969 paper, E.O. Willis reported finding a specimen of the hair-crested antbird tagged with the Quichua name for this species, tamia anangu pishcu, an apparent reference to its ant-following behavior. Some thirty species of antbirds are specialists in this type of behavior. With approximately 230 species, the antbirds (Formicariidae) form the fourth largest family of Neotropical birds. The name is derived from their ant-following behavior, which is exhibited to some extent in nearly all members of the family.
The Diversity Cline (Song Sparrow, January 1998)
It would be a sad misfortune to delve further into the topic of tropical biology without attempting to explain the cause of its great diversity. Unfortunately, this topic can not be fully explained on a single page so after reading this overview I refer you to John C. Kricher’s landmark book entitled A Neotropical Companion. This book is a must read for anyone planning a visit to the New World tropics.
On Babies, Bananas, and the Bottom Line (Song Sparrow, November 1997)
Bananas have always been my favorite fruit. I would have one with breakfast, one after a workout, one before going to bed, and even in the occasional cream pie or bread. Many of us consume them without giving much thought to the real cost of their production. As long as the fruit is unblemished, we’re happy.
Trouble in the Tropics (Song Sparrow, November 1997)
It is unfortunate that I cannot smile when I think of the first time I entered a tropical rainforest. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely in awe. No matter what you may experience in a career in biology, nothing prepares you for the overwhelming surge of emotion when confronted with such amazing biological diversity for the first time. The sad thing was that perhaps the defining feeling of the moment was one of distress, as I heard the angry growl of distant chainsaws and the thunder of another centuries-old giant crashing to the forest floor.