19 April 2017. Great night at the St. Louis Art Museum for "EnviroSLAM: A Showcase of Environment, Energy and Sustainability at Washington University". Highlight was certainly hearing Dr. Peter Raven's inspiring talk on the critical environmental issues of our time.  

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13 April 2017. Tony attended the EPSCoR imaging workshop at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.  The purpose of the workshop was to link imaging and image processing to phenotyping and to share collective capacity on plant imaging technology and data. Really great to see the awesome progress plant folk are making with automated imaging!


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6 April 2017. Tony attended the biodiversity working group at the OneSTL Sustainability Summit. The Summit brought organizations, governments, and people together to share and learn new ideas for charting a defined path towards a sustainable and equitable St. Louis region. 



22 March 2017. Tony just back from the inaugral GRC on the Movement Ecology of Animals held in Ventura (CA), where he gave a talk about "The body size and temperature dependence of animal movement and some consequence for trophic interactions". Fun times with an awesome bunch of movement ecologists - looking forward to the next meeting in 2019!

17 December 2016. We currently have two paid undergraduate internships available in the lab for summer 2016. 

1) Using UAV’s to monitor bison movement and vegetation dynamics at the Dunn Ranch Prairie

2) Burning question: How does prescribed fire affect tick behavior in riparian and upland forests

While I encourage interested students to email me with questions about the projects, note that to be considered for the positions students must submit all application materials electronically with the online application form (listing one of these two projects as their preferred option) by the Jan 18th deadline at


18 November 2016. Just back from Dunn Ranch Prairie in northern Missouri, where Andrew Berdahl, Steve Blake  and I are doing some work on bison movement ecology, and its relation to tallgrass prairie ecosystems more generally. We currently have an 2017 summer undergraduate internship available as part of this project - see here for more details.

17 October 2016. Best of luck to Dr. David Daversa who has moved to a new postdoc position in the Institute for Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool. 

13 October 2016. Was great to be involved in a public event last night at the Jacoby Arts Center where  Ryan Hanlon (Route 3 Films), Natalie Marioni (NGRREC), and myself presented "The Everyman and the Ecologist", as part of the traveling exhibit: "Running Water: Riverwork Project and Watershed Cairns".

Fun times indeed - looking forward to seeing where all this leads!

17 September 2016. The Dell Ecology Lab attended the 6th Annual St Louis Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (SLEEC) retreat at Principia College. Fantastic to hear about all the awesome work being undertaken in the St Louis region.

5 September 2016. Check out our new paper on Global patterns in lake ecosystem responses to warming based on the temperature dependence of metabolism, led by Ben Kraemer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison .

28 August 2016. Our paper describing our new Video Tracking and Behavioral Annotation Tool (ViTBAT) was presented at the 13th International IEEE Conference on Advanced Video and Signal-based Surveillance. A pdf of our paper is available here.

5 August 2016. Tony gave a talk yesterday on "Body size, temperature and trophic interactions" at the Tyson Research Center, run by Washington University in St Louis. An awesome facility, with a great bunch of staff and affiliates - thanks for hosting.

3 August 2016. Our NGRREC Interns presented their posters and seminars over the past 2 days. Awesome work by Alex, Tracie and Elizabeth - both today and over the past 2 months. All three projects went really well, with much scope for extending them into the future.  

30 July 2016. Tony just back from GRC Conference on "Unifying Ecology Across Scales". Thanks to Richard Sibly and colleagues for organizing such a diverse and interesting group of presenters - always a favorite conference of mine.

27 July 2016. Goodbye to postdoc Dr. Tewodros Biresaw - who is leaving to join the autonomous vehicle development project at Ford Motors.  Huge congrats Teddy.

11 July 2016. Welcome back from Iceland postdoc Carl Cloyed and NGRREC summer intern Tracie Hayes.

7 July 2016. Our wet lab 12-camera tracking system is now up and running!!! Its been a crazy last few months pulling it all together, but what we have is pretty cool! First up postdoc Dave Daversa will be using the system to explore the intraspecific variability of movement, behavior and their effects on species interactions in salamander larvae and their tree frog prey. New intern Elizabeth Green will be helping Dave with the tracking, and also leading the morphometric part of the project.

5 July 2016. Tony just back from a workshop on "Collective animal motion in the wild", held at the Santa Fe Institute. A super interesting workshop with a fun bunch of smart folk, many thanks to Andrew Berdahl and Colin Torney for organising.

26 June 2016. Tony back from Iceland - rest of the team (postdoc Carl Cloyed and summer intern Tracie Hayes) are still there for another two weeks. We had an amazing time, with a good start on some science. Thanks to Dr. Eoin O’Gorman and Dr. Becca Kordas for hosting us. Using the Hengill geothermal stream system we are using automated tracking stations to explore the effects of temperature on movement and behavior. After quite a few days of testing and trialing, Carl and Tracie are now hard at work collecting data. We hope the Hengill Stream can become an annual event on the labs field season.

12 June 2016. Summer intern Oleksandr (Alex) Loyko using a 3D video camera (Microsoft Kinect) to track the movement of behavior of animals. Here we are getting some video of pollinators on the roof of NGRREC, hummingbirds at a bird feeder, and dragonflies over a small pond out the front of NGRREC.

1 June 2016. A warm welcome to three NGRREC interns who just started in the lab. Tracy Hayes will be working on our Iceland project where we are using automated tracking stations to monitor thermal effects on movement, behavior, and species interactions in the geothermally-fed Hengill stream system.  Elizabeth Gree will be working with Dave Daversa (a postdoc in the lab) to study movement and morphology of amphibian tadpoles. Finally, Aleksandr Loyko will be working on using 3D video cameras (MS Kinect) to automatically track animal movement and behavior. All super exciting projects, and a great bunch of dedicated young scientists!  

29 May 2016. Only two weeks until we leave for Iceland. Yikes. Tracking stations are progressing well, but still waiting for a few key pieces of equipment to arrive. Initial tests in a local stream were very useful.

15 May 2016. The team at St Louis Confluence FabLab (a fabrication laboratory run by Lewis and Clark Community College) have been super helpful in engineering our mobile tracking stations for our Iceland trip. Check out the 3D printed parts! Thanks Luke, Tom and the rest of the gang.

1 May 2016. Postdoc Dave Daversa (with a little help from Delilah Dell) checks out the Tyson Research Station, run by Washington University in St Louis. The ponds were dripping with salamanders!

20 April 2016. Environmental climate chambers - and lab renovations in general - are finally coming together. 

21 March 2016. Check out a new paper of ours describing the Moorea IDEA (Island Digitized Ecosystem Avatar) project, recently published in GigaScience (see pdf here).

"The IDEA Consortium is a systems ecology open science initiative to conduct the basic scientific research needed to build use-oriented simulations (avatars) of entire social-ecological systems. Islands are the most scientifically tractable places for these studies and we begin with one of the best known: Moorea, French Polynesia. The Moorea IDEA will be a sustainability simulator modeling links and feedbacks between climate, environment, biodiversity, and human activities across a coupled marine–terrestrial landscape. As a model system, the resulting knowledge and tools will improve our ability to predict human and natural change on Moorea and elsewhere at scales relevant to management/conservation actions."

You can read more about the Moorea IDEA consortium on its website, and in a recent Nature news piece.

12 February 2016. Glad to be part of the WUSTL community! Tony and the senior members of the lab are now visiting researchers in the Department of Biology at Wash U in St Louis. We look forward to a strong and dynamic relationship with the department for many years to come.

2 February 2016. Our lab just returned from a fantastic GRC conference in Ventura (CA) on Predator-Prey Interactions: New Frontiers in understanding Predator-Prey Interactions in a Human-Altered World. Some very thought-provoking seminars and discussions.

11 January 2016. Check out our new paper in The American Naturalist (see pdf here). Our key result is that because thermal sensitivity is not always strictly exponential, significant biases in its estimation can arise from an inappropriate choice of experimental temperatures. That is, choosing experimental temperature ranges at the cold end of an organism’s tolerance range tends to yield high estimates of sensitivity, and choosing ranges at the warm end yields low estimates. We provide a number of guidelines for accurately measuring thermal sensitivity and for correctly using thermal sensitivity data to model effects of climate change on species and ecosystems. 

CLOSES 9 January 2016. We currently have two paid undergraduate internships available in the lab for summer 2016. We have one in computer vision (Integrating 3D video and computer vision methods for application in ecology) and one in community ecology (Thermal effects on movement, behavior and species interactions). See the links above for details about how to apply and who to contact with questions.

14 December 2015. The team  trailing some new lab equipment - IR lights that just arrived from smartvisionlights. We got some video (and tracks!) from a number of species, including spiders and tadpoles.

9 December 2015. Our lab  visited Dr Christopher Topp's group at the  Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Chris and his team are doing some awesome work using computer vision to characterize the biological drivers of plant root architecture. 

15 November 2015. Work on the lab is progressing fast - climate chambers to be installed over the next couple of weeks.

30 October 2015. Recent trip to the Darwin Chambers Company to check up on construction of our awesome new climate chambers. Should be ready by 2016. 

20 October 2015. Short field trip today to introduce our new postdoc (Dave Daversa) to some local fauna. Our focus was on marbled salamanders, but you can see we came across quite a diversity of species. Also on hand was Tewodros Biresaw (a postdoc in the lab) and John Crawford (vertebrate ecologist at NGRREC and Dave's co-advisor).   See here for high-res images.

12 October 2015. A welcome to our newest postdoc Dr. Dave Daversa, who comes to us from the University of Cambridge where he recently competed his PhD on movement and parasite dynamics in amphibians. Dave is co-advised by Dr. John Crawford, and while at NGRREC will be working to understand drivers of movement and behavior in amphibians, especially in relation to dispersal.

9 August 2015. We just had a new book chapter come out, in Aquatic Functional Biodiversity: An Ecological and Evolutionary Perspective. In it we provide a summary of recent theoretical and empirical advances for developing a mechanistic understanding of trophic interactions, and identify key methods and challenges for understanding and predicting the eco- evolutionary dynamics of aquatic ecosystems. Our approach is based on the metabolic and biomechanical bases of trophic interactions, but is applicable to other types of ecological interactions that involve metabolism and biomechanics (e.g., pollination, parasitism, and competitive interactions). A pdf of our chapter is available on the lab Publications page.

30 July 2015. We just received the latest plans for our new environmental chambers. The walk-in chamber (shown to the right) will be used for automated tracking, and will be complemented by 5 reach-in chambers for housing animals prior to testing. We hope the chambers will be online by the end of the year.

18 July 2015. We trialed some new lab equipment today - a FLIR thermal camera. We plan to use these cameras to more throughly investigate the thermal dependence of movement, behavior and species interactions, with the hope to eventually integrate the images with automated tracking software. Very exciting times to be doing ecology!  See here for high-res images.

10 July 2015. A belated welcome to our newest postdoc - Dr. Tewodros Biresaw.  Tewodros brings to the lab his interests and expertise in computer vision, and especially automated tracking and behavioral analysis. 

22 June 2015. Just back from a fantastic few days at the GRC conference on Catchment Science: Interactions of Hydrology, Biology and Geochemistry. This was all mostly new stuff considering the work we do in the lab, but it certainly represents a direction we'd like to take over the coming years. Hopefully this conference will become a regular feature on our lab calendar. More from the conference website:

Observing, predicting, and understanding the consequences and feedbacks of environmental thresholds are crucial for predicting future changes in catchment systems across interacting hydrological, biological and geochemical processes. This GRC will focus on new research, including thresholds, early warning indicators, and resilience using long-term data, experimental studies, theory, and modeling approaches to study the behavior of catchments systems under changing conditions such as climate variability or land use/cover changes.

10 June 2015. Our two summer interns hard at work! David (Tilson) and Laura (Cappel) are using camera traps to understand the energetics of vertebrate communities at the Boone Field Station, located about an hours drive from NGRREC. Also on hand was Carl Cloyed (a postdoc in the lab) and John Crawford (vertebrate ecologist at NGRREC).   See here for high-res images.

9 June 2015. New paper of ours just out in Functional Ecology. This is some of our first published work that uses automated tracking, where we tease out how temperature and body size affect how often individuals cross a dispersal corridor. How temperature and size affect movement should be important in a world increasingly impacted by climate change and habitat fragmentation.

7 June 2015. Tony just back from another Moorea IDEA consortium workshop, this time in Moorea!

3 June 2015. A new paper of ours just came out - you can read it here. In it we explore how size impacts the behavioral ecology of insects. 

21 May 2015. We welcome a new postdoc to the lab - Dr. Carl Cloyed.  Carl recently completed his doctorate at University of Louisville, and will be using automated tracking to addresses some basic and applied issues in ecology. You can read more about Carl's research here.

4 May 2015. A couple of papers of ours just came out in a special issue of Advances in Ecological Research that Tony co-edited (see below). The first paper is the introductory chapter to the special issue:  Gibert et al. 2015. Scaling up trait variation from individuals to ecosystems Advances in Ecological Research [pdf]. The second paper describes work I undertook during my PhD on the ecology of intermittent pool beds: Dell et al. 2015. Population and community size structure across a complex environmental gradientAdvances in Ecological Research [pdf]


3 May 2015. A special issue of Advances in Ecological Research that Samraat Pawar, Guy Woodward, and myself edited has just come out. The title of the issue is "Trait-Based Ecology - From Structure to Function"

Over the last decade or so however, ecologists have begun to move towards a more mechanistic and general framework for predicting ecosystem dynamics by shifting focus to the consequences of trait diversity on coupled ecological and evolutionary population dynamics. Indeed, it is now well-accepted that ecological and evolutionary timescales often overlap, and that understanding the effects of trait variation is paramount for unraveling how evolutionary processes affect ecological dynamics and vice-versa, ultimately shaping ecosystem dynamics. Nevertheless trait variation is fundamentally an individual- and population-level phenomenon, and an integrated understanding of how trait variation scales from individuals to communities and ecosystems is still very much a work in progress. This Advances in Ecological Research volume brings together a set of research papers at different levels of biological organization that push the boundaries of our current knowledge of trait-based biology, presenting novel insights and identifying promising avenues of future research. 

30 April 2015. Tony just returned from a workshop on "Food Webs for Model Islands" held at the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, Berkeley, California. Fun times with a great bunch of eco-folk!

19 March 2015. Photos from a recent field trip to Moreton Island, Austrlia, where we are using automated tracking methods to assess biomass flux and flow in a number of habitats. Check out the carpet python that attached itself to the arm of one of our sleeping field assistants!!! See here for high-res images.

12 March 2015. A postdoc position is now available in my lab (co-supervised with Dr. John Crawford) to work on the ecological drivers of dispersal, with a key criteria being that the research make use of automated tracking. Apply by 3rd April 2015 to ensure full consideration. See here for more details.

17 February 2015. A commentary has just been published in PNAS about our recent paper on how "Metabolic theory predicts ecosystem properties".

2 February 2015Two paid undergraduate internships are currently available in our lab. Successful students will receive a $4,000 stipend over 9 weeks, with additional research funds provided as required. International students are encouraged to apply, with the possibility of additional funds available for travel. The two projects in my lab involve integrating camera traps and remote video to understand the ecology of vertebrate communities in the upper Mississippi watershed. Thus, in the application candidates should refer to the following two projects as their preferred ones: #3) Trophic structure and energetics of vertebrates in an upper Mississippi watershed: effects of a riparian gradient and #5) Trophic structure and energetics of vertebrates in an upper Mississippi watershed: effects of an agricultural gradient. More details about how to apply can be found hereAPPLICATION DEADLINE: 16th Feb

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28 January 2015. We have a new paper in The American Naturalist on "The body size dependence of trophic cascades".  Trophic cascades are indirect positive effects of predators on resources via control of intermediate consumers. Larger-bodied predators appear to induce stronger trophic cascades, but how this happens is unknown because we lack a clear depiction of how the strength of trophic cascades is determined. In this paper we show that the strength of a trophic cascade has an upper limit set by the interaction strength between the basal trophic group and its consumer, and this limit is approached as the interaction strength between the consumer and its predator increases. Our results suggest that the loss of larger predators will have greater consequences on trophic control and biomass structure in food webs than the loss of smaller predators. 

26 January 2015. Our PNAS paper on how "Metabolic theory predicts ecosystem properties" just came out.  In it, we present theory that integrates metabolic (organism-based bottom-up) and systems (ecosystem-based top-down) approaches to characterize how the metabolism of individuals affects the flows and stores of materials and energy in ecosystems. Our approach provides a powerful way to understand the roles of organisms in ecosystem processes at scales from local habitats to the biosphere, which is required for addressing the impacts of human-caused changes in climate, land use, and biodiversity. 

19 January 2015. Tony just returned from Barcelona for a kick-off meeting for the IMBALANCE-P project. By integrating researchers in the fields of ecosystem diversity and ecology, biogeochemistry, Earth System modelling, and global agricultural and resource economics, the IMBALANCE-P project aims to providing improved understanding and quantitative foresight needed to formulate a range of policy options that will contain the risks and mitigate the consequences of stoichiometric imbalances across Earth. See here for more details.

14 January 2015.  News piece in Nature today on the Moorea IDEA project our lab is involved with - the hope is to eventually apply this approach to understanding the social-ecological aspects of large-river ecosystems around the globe.

18 December 2014. Two postdocs are now available in my lab to work on a broad range of questions in community ecology, with the main criteria that the research use automated tracking and be broadly relevant to the ecology of large rivers. Apply by 8th Jan 2015 to ensure full consideration. See here for more details.

23 November 2014.  Tony just got back from the 3rd Moorea IDEA workshop in Berkeley. The goal of the Moorea Island Digital Ecosystem Avatar (IDEA) is development of the first ‘avatar’ (computational model/digital simulation) of a complete social-ecological system. The IDEA Project will build advanced computational models of a range of complex socio-ecological systems, particularly islands (coupled natural-human systems) and cities (built environment). Although modeling entire socio-ecological systems is still in its infancy, doing so will prove scientifically productive in the short-term and is societally essential in the long-term. The Moorea IDEA will incorporate observations, experiments, data, and theory across a coupled 4D marine-terrestrial landscape to model how physical, chemical, biological, and social processes interact to shape the island’s phenotype.

19 November 2014. Our YouTube channel is now online - check out some of the recent automated tracking research we have been doing on a range of pure and applied ecological questions.

17 November 2014. Tony is a planet expertPlanet Experts is an environmentally focused, news and social media website that provides its Experts a platform to publish blogs, share photos and post videos that address the problems of and solutions to anthropogenic impacts on climate, habitats, fauna and flora. Planet Experts is a hub free of special interest groups, where Experts can impart their unfiltered environmental research, informed opinions and technological innovations, as well as interface with each other, while readers can bolster their environmental literacy, engage one another through commentary and share postings to educate their families and friends.

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25 September 2014. New paper out in PLoS ONE on how intermittent pool beds - which cycle each year between aquatic and terrestrial habitat - are great systems to explore a variety of basic and applied questions in ecology. Stay tuned for a couple of papers that actually do this!

15 September 2014. Tony is part of steering committee for an exciting upcoming conference to be held in Hobart (Australia) in February 2016. " SPECIES ON THE MOVE" is centered around the detection, impacts, prediction and adaptation of species to climate change, and is targeted towards scientists and managers.

12 August 2014.  Tony accepted a full time position as a research ecologist at the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) in Alton, IL. He starts there early November. The NGRREC field station (where our lab will be based) is amazing.

Dell Ecology Lab @ NGRREC  • One Confluence Way East Alton, IL 62024  •  Copyright 2015