Check out the blog post penned by Chris Tonra on our work on effects of dams on American Dipper life history on Ecography's webpage. Thanks Ecography!!
Thanks to the outlets that carried the story on the two papers we published on the impacts of salmon barriers on American Dipper life history, and their response to the Elwha Dam removal! Find one example here.
Visit the OSU School for Environment and Natural Resources web page for a story on our recent publication with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center on the bias in animal ecology towards single season studies, focused only on breeding, and the impacts this has on animal ecology and conservation. Many thanks to the studies other authors: Pete Marra, Emily Cohen, Scott Loss, and Jordan Rutter!
Artwork by Lauren diBiccari
Very excited to have a new paper in early view on using the new IsoMAP tool to develop stable hydrogen isotope (dD) feather base maps for pied flycatchers in Europe. We used this awesome tool to develop and validate long-term average and year specific isoscapes, and also examined the effects of random site variation. We found that the most accurate maps were those that were developed from long-term dD averages and did not included random site variation. Also, for the first time, we present an analysis of the relationship between annual variation in precipitation dD and those in bird feathers with a large repeated measures data set. We found that variation in precipitation only explains about 20% of the variation within individuals between years. Lastly, we used the base maps to assign wintering birds from Ghana to breeding possible locations (map below). Our paper is now in early view in the Journal of Avian Biology (contact me for reprint). Many thanks to my wonderful co-authors, Christiaan Both and Pete Marra, and all of the excellent researchers that provided feathers for the analysis.
Another story about the amazing recovery of the Elwha River ecosystem from National Geographic, featuring a tidbit on our dipper study. The final pieces of the Glines Canyon Dam are coming out as I write this, opening the entire river to salmon for the first time in a century!! Read more about our bird research on the Elwha here.
Check out this great article by Lynda Mapes of the Seattle Times on the removal of the final dam sections for the Elwha River Restoration with a quote on our project.
Check out this excellent news story from the Associated Press (link) on the amazing changes to the Elwha River ecosystem as the benefits of dam removal are beginning to be realized. So happy to have our work on American Dippers featured!
I am very excited to announce that I will be moving to a new institution beginning this August. I have accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of Avian Wildlife Ecology in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University. I am beyond thrilled to join the wonderful faculty at SENR and anxious to contribute to the outstanding research going on at OSU. I plan to continue working on my current research projects, while also initiating several new projects in Ohio to contribute to the management and conservation of the state's diverse wildlife.
This change is also bittersweet, as it means my time at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center is coming to an end. I have been affiliated with SMBC since I began my doctoral work in 2007, and this wonderful organization has shaped me as a scientist. I am excited to continue collaborating with the amazing ecologists here into the future to increase our knowledge of bird populations and their conservation.
I am now getting my research lab off the ground at OSU, so if you are interested in joining, please contact me here.
I am very excited to share that our new paper on seasonal interactions (reprint) in the American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) system was just made available in early view in the journal Ecology and Evolution. My collaborators and I performed a feather replacement experiment on overwintering male redstarts in Jamaica. This is the first study to examine color acquisition in winter-grown feathers in situ in a Neotropical migrant.
We were seeking to determine the costs of feather loss in terms of the spectral quality of feathers. Carotenoid based plumage is important to sexual selection in redstarts, and birds frequently must replace feathers while on their wintering grounds, due to loss from agonistic interactions or predator avoidance. We found that there is a significant cost to plumage quality for older males when feathers are replaced on the wintering grounds, as replaced feathers are less saturated in red chroma, likely due to limited availability of carotenoid pigments in the winter diet. This effect is independent of habitat quality or physical condition. Furthermore, we found that young males re-grew more adult-like orange feathers, a result with implications for delayed plumage maturation in this species. The reduction in quality for adult males could carry-over to negatively impact breeding success through sexual selection on the breeding grounds, while the increase in adult-like appearance could have positive impacts on breeding success for young males. Overall this research has important implications for winter to breeding carry-over effects and the evolution of molt strategies in Neotropical migrants.
Many thanks to my outstanding co-authors: Kim Marini, Pete Marra, Ryan Germain, Rebecca Holberton, and Matt Reudink.