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Anjali Kumar, Ph.D.

Anjali Kumar, Ph.D.

Tropical Ecologist

Skype: anjali.kumar4
askumar@mit.edu

Dr. Anjali Kumar broadly defines herself as a tropical ecologist with interests lying at the interface of conservation biology and behavioral ecology. She has worked in different Neotropical ecosystems throughout Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador.

Anjali's doctoral research explored the effects of landscape level changes on the behavior of a well-known top predator of tropical ecosystems, army ants (Ecitoninae). Specifically, she studied the effects of forest fragmentation and elevation on the foraging and movement of army ants in Costa Rica. She also investigated the effects of differing forest cover on the army ant - army ant following bird behavioral syndrome in the Neotropical montane butt forests of Monteverde, Costa Rica.

Since completing her Ph.D., Anjali has taught several university level field ecology courses that focus on applying the scientific method to short field experiments. She currently teaches a summer course for undergraduates in Costa Rica through the Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS), based out of Duke University.

In her current position as a Postdoctoral Associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Anjali is investigating the effects of mercury on tropical ecosystems. Presently, mercury is being introduced at high volumes into rivers in the Amazon basin by artisanal gold miners for use as amalgam in gold extraction. Organisms at higher trophic levels that feed on aquatic organisms should bioaccumulate more mercury than those that do not. Anjali will use three feeding guilds of bats (Chiroptera) to investigate whether bats that feed at higher trophic levels (piscivores and insectivores) accumulate a greater amount of total mercury than bats that feed at lower trophic levels (frugivores) in the Peruvian Amazon. Mercury may have detrimental effects on bat behavior and reproductive fitness as well as ecosystem health.

Education

 
  • Postdoctoral Associate in Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Technology and Design, August 2012 – August 2014.Teaching and research postdoc with one year spent in Singapore and one year spent at MIT. Research focuses on mercury accumulation in bats due to anthropogenic land use changes (gold mining) in Central/South America and Southeast Asia.
  • Ph.D., Animal Behavior, University of Washington, Seattle, 2008. Dissertation: The combined effects of forest fragmentation and elevation on species richness, behavior, and ecology of social Hymenoptera in Costa Rica.
  • B.S., Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution, University of California, San Diego, 2002.

Publications

 
  • O’Donnell, S., A. Kumar & C. Logan. 2010. Life zone differences in army ant raid attendance by nearctic migrant birds in Costa Rican montane forest. Journal of Animal Ecology (submitted)
  • O’Donnell, S., M. Kaspari, A. Kumar, J. Lattke, & S. Powell. 2011. Army ant diurnal and nocturnal foraging activity at five Neotropical sites. Biotropica (submitted)
  • Rizo-Patrón, F., F. A. Trama, A. Kumar & M. Springer. 2011. A comparison of benthic macroinvertebrate communities between conventional and organic flooded rice fields in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Ecological Indicators (accepted)
  • O’Donnell, S., M. Kaspari, A. Kumar, J. Lattke, & S. Powell. 2011. Elevational and geographic variation in army ant swarm raid rates. Insectes Sociaux 58: 293-298
  • O’Donnell, S., A. Kumar & C. Logan. 2010. Army ant raid attendance and bivouac-checking behavior by neotropical montane forest birds. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology 122: 503-512
  • Trama, F. A., F. L. Rizo-Patron, A. Kumar, E. Gonzalez, D. Somma & M. D. McCoy. 2009. Wetland cover types and plant community changes in response to cattail control activities in the Palo Verde marsh, Costa Rica. Ecological Restoration 27: 278-289
  • Kumar, A., J. T. Longino, R. K. Colwell & S. O’Donnell. 2009. Elevational patterns of diversity and abundance of eusocial paper wasps (Vespidae) in Costa Rica. Biotropica 41: 338-346
  • Kumar, A. & S. O’Donnell. 2009. Elevation and forest clearing effects on foraging differ between surface and subterranean army ants (Formicidae: Ecitoninae). Journal of Animal Ecology 78: 91-97
  • Kumar, A. & S. O’Donnell. 2007. Fragmentation and elevation effects on bird-army ant interactions in Neotropical montane forest in Costa Rica. Journal of Tropical Ecology 23: 581-590
  • O’Donnell, S. & A. Kumar. 2006. Microclimate factors associated with elevational changes in army ant density in tropical montane forest. Ecological Entomology 31: 491-49

Presentations and Posters

 
  • Kumar, A., S. O’Donnell. Elevation and forest clearing effects on foraging differ between surface and subterranean army ants (Formicidae: Ecitoninae). Animal Behavior Society, Pirenopolis, Brazil. August 2009.
  • Kumar, A., S. O’Donnell. The effect of habitat type and temperature on the foraging activity of two species of army ants (Eciton burchellii and Labidus coecus) in Neotropical montane forest. The Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation, Morelia, Mexico. July 2007.
  • Kumar, A., S. O’Donnell. Fragmentation and elevation effects on bird-army ant interactions in a Neotropical montane forest. IV North American Ornithological Conference, Verzcruz, Mexico. October 2006.
  • Kumar, A., J. T. Longino, R. K. Colwell, and S. O’Donnell. Determining species richness and diversity of paper wasps (Vespidae) from three elevations in a Costa Rican rainforest. Entomological Society of America, Orlando, FL. November 2004.
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