BRIT Research Associate
Ph.D. in Ecology, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (INPA)
Master of Science, Texas Chrisitan University
Bachelor of Science, Texas Chrisitan University
Ethan is broadly interested in the ecology, evolution and biogeography of plants and the communities they form. His work, mostly in the Amazon, focuses on plant communities in swamp, peatland, heathland and floodplain habitats. These environmentally extreme habitat types offer interesting model systems to study how species - and their associated morphological and functional traits - vary along local ecological gradients, and to understand how these factors influence the geographic distributions of species on heterogeneous landscapes. For example, some questions that have motivated his recent research include (1) What associations exist between plant traits and the habitats they tend to occupy, and under what conditions might have these traits evolved? (2) To what extent can associations to particular habitats, and especially to wetlands, determine the distribution of species at their range limits? (3) How can answers to questions 1 and 2 help us to understand how species react to environmental change, especially in regards to past and future climate?
Ethan first became interested in the neotropics as a young ecotour guide on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica. During graduate studies at Texas Christian University (2005) Ethan was introduced to the work of John Janovec and BRIT in the southern Peruvian Amazon, where he led several years of investigation on rare Vanilla orchids and their peatland habitats. In 2011 Ethan migrated to Manus, Brazil in the Central Amazon, to continue graduate studies on the diversity and composition of Amazonian swamp vegetation, in collaboration with Florian Wittmann. He recently completed his doctoral degree in Ecology at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA). Ethan continues to live and explore the Amazon basin, currently based near Belem at the mouth of the Amazon River with his wife, son and three dogs.