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Welcome to the Laboratory for Animal Behavior at STRI

As a visitor carrying out animal behavior research at STRI you will join a vibrant community engaged in research with deep historical roots in Panama.

“The longest-running conversation in evolutionary biology”

The study of animal behavior in nature was a key reason to establish Barro Colorado Island (BCI) as a reserve for science one century ago. Early BCI researchers studied the behavior and natural history of the resident fauna, including the first study of primates in nature by Clarence Ray Carpenter. The BCI trails are named for many of these pioneers in animal behavior. Martin Moynihan, STRI’s founding Director, completed his dissertation research under Nobel laureate Niko Tinbergen, with highly original behavioral studies of birds, primates, and cephalopods. Many of the founding staff scientists of the Smithsonian Tropical Research studied the evolution of animal behavior, and initiated on BCI what they called “the longest-running conversation in evolutionary biology”.

STRI-LAB: continuing the behavioral conversation

Today a core staff continues this conversation, centering their research on animal behavior, complemented by a large community of visiting researchers, STRI interns, fellows, and Research Associates.

We aim to reconfigure and reimagine our laboratory facilities, mentoring roles and responsibilities, and management of shared research infrastructure and personnel, in an effort to redress inherent asymmetries in power at STRI and throughout the sciences relating to access to field sites, natural history knowledge, equipment, facilities, and institutional support for research.

Accordingly, we established STRI’s Laboratory for Animal Behavior (STRI-LAB), as an amalgam of the research laboratories associated with Sabrina Amador, Rachel Page, and William Wcislo, their staff and associates, as well as Research Associates.


STRI-LAB aims to culture a diverse community in which both staff and visiting scientists work in a supportive and intellectually rigorous environment, ensuring fairness in providing access to resources, and fostering excellence in research through mutual aid.

STRI-LAB’s immediate research interests center on investigations of mutualisms, social behavior, sensory and cognitive biology, and natural history, primarily focusing on ants and their associated plant species, bats, bees, and frogs, and all their associates, from microbes to macrobes. We welcome and encourage those working on diverse questions and taxa. Our goal is to provide commensurate intellectual and infrastructure support for those working on behavior generally.