I am a zoologist and evolutionary ecologist working through the second year of my doctoral degree in the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropological Sciences (IDPAS) at Stony Brook University. I completed my Master of Research degree in Tropical Forest Ecology at Imperial College London in October of 2017, and my Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology at the University of St Andrews in June of 2016. My research interests have broadly focused on the topics of animal-plant interactions (when in the field) and phylogenetic comparative methods (when in the lab). I am originally from the North Fork of Long Island, New York.
Ksepka et al. (2020). Tempo and pattern of avian brain size evolution. Current Biology.
Greene, Clayton, Rothman et al. (2019). Local habitat, not phylogenetic relatedness, predicts gut microbiota better within folivorous than frugivorous lemur lineages. Biology Letters. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0028
Recent Field and Lab Research Experience
Presently 'In the Lab' I am currently working on a research project which aims to better understand the adaptive radiation and rates of relative brain size evolution in mammals through the use of phylogenetic comparative methods. I am investigating grade shifts in slope and intercept and evolutionary strength of integration of relative brain size across a large dataset of extant and fossil mammalian taxa (from the Eocene to present), and focusing in more specifically on the primate radiation. This research is in conjunction with the Smaers Lab (https://smaerslab.com).
Madagascar - 2017 to Present My masters thesis entitled "Does anthropogenic disturbance affect the diversity and size of seeds dispersed by lemurs?" was completed in August of 2017. For this research project I collected faecal samples from four diurnal lemur species in Ranomafana National Park across a gradient of anthropogenic disturbance.
I also led a short expedition to the recently discovered "Lost Rainforest of Crystal Mountain" to collect ring-tailed lemur faecal samples. I extracted the seeds from the faeces in order to better understand Lemur catta seed dispersal. This research is exciting as it is one of the first studies of L. catta in a tropical rainforest environment (this species ordinarily inhabits dry deciduous forests, spiny bush, and scrublands).
I have presented some of my research at the inaugural meeting of the Malagasy Primatological Society in Tamatave, Madagascar in December of 2017, at the International Primatological Society’s 27th Congress in Nairobi, Kenya in August of 2018, and most recently at the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation's 56th Annual Congress in Antananarivo, Madagascar in July of 2019.
I have recently returned from a second expedition to the lost rainforest in July of 2019 collecting faecal samples from the ring-tailed lemurs for a collaborative microbial project.
I aim to return to the Lost Rainforest for a third expedition in the summer of 2020 to further study the ring-tailed lemurs.
Malaysian Borneo - Winter 2017 The Stability of Altered Forest Ecosystems (SAFE) project is one of the world's largest ongoing ecological experiments. I took part on a 3-week field course which involved the taxonomic ID of plants, vertebrates, and invertebrates, and involved hands-on experience designing, collecting, and handling ecological, biogeochemical, and biodiversity data. I received valuable experience conducting research in both the secondary and primary rainforest environments.
South Africa - Summer 2015 For myundergraduate dissertation research at the University of St Andrews, I collected data in the Greater Kruger National Park on African elephant (Loxodonta africana) damage to woody plants. Trees and shrubs were identified to the species, and damage to them was scored through time to investigate their role as ecosystem engineers in the bushveld.
Please Get in Touch! N-233, Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments, Social and Behavioral Sciences Building, Stony Brook University email@example.com ryan.rothman1 (Skype)