Kristen Diemer. Bobolinks are a
Threatened species (in Canada and
Ontario). Although the major driver
behind their population declines is hotly
debated, recovery can still be assisted
by seeking management options that
improve reproduction on the breeding
grounds. Kristen is examining how
Bobolinks and other grassland fauna respond to hay harvest that occurs very early, at the traditional time, and late in the season.
Philina English. Aerial insectivores have undergone dramatic population declines. The nightjars, such as Whip-poor-wills, are a unique subset of that guild; they occupy the unusual niche of "crepuscular insectivores" and so maintain a different diet and habit. Despite their dissimilarity to the guild, they are nonetheless declining and Philina aims to figure out why. Her Ph.D. (at Simon Fraser University, under the co-supervision of David Green) work is examining the role of habitat, insect abundance, and interspecific competition on this interesting species.
Melanie Farquhar. Chimney Swifts are a threatened species in Canada. Swifts are unique in that they use certain chimneys for breeding and others for roosting. A pertinent conservation question that needs answering is how do swifts select and use such roosts? In collaboration with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Melanie is examining movement between (or fidelity to) particular roost sites, what features constitute preferred roosts, and how swifts use space within those roosts to thermoregulate.
Josh Feltham. The five-lined skink in Ontario is divided into two groups: an endangered population in southwest, and a special concern population on the Canadian Shield. Despite their commonness relative to the southern population, the Shield population has received much less study. Josh's continuing work with a well-marked population and a spatially explicit dataset allows us to answer some important lingering questions. What is the relative population size? What habitat features does this population seek? Because they occur in clusters, and primarily in patchy open crags, we can also test intraspecific behavioural mechanisms for that habitat use.
Barbara Frei. Where have all
the Red-headed Woodpeckers
gone? This is a question that
Barbara is trying to answer as
part of her PhD (which she is
pursuing under the co-supervision
of Jim Fyles at McGill University).
By investigating community
interactions (e.g., competition with
other woodpeckers), habitat loss,
and nest-tree selection, we hope to determine what is keeping the red-headed woodpecker a federally Threatened species.
Sarah McGuire. Populations of a number of
grassland bird species are in decline, prompting
the listing of some species such as Bobolink. A
major barrier to developing recovery strategies
for these species (in Ontario, anyway) is that we
have few data outside of hayfields on what
types of agricultural lands these species will
occupy. In collaboration with the Nature
Conservancy of Canada, Sarah is examining the
community structure of birds on farm and
grasslands of all types in south-central Ontario. She is also using BACI-type experiments to
test hypotheses about why avian communities
are so structured at these sites.
Greg Rand. Imagine a mining
operation next to your house. Would it
stress you out? Would that stress lead to behavioural changes? That is what Greg
has set about studying in the form of
identifying the effect of industrial
mine-activity on the stress physiology of
Whip-poor-wills. Under the co-supervision of Dr. Gary Burness at Trent University,
Greg is monitoring the nesting behaviour
and hormonal response of birds in a a mining zone in northwestern Ontario. This project is a collaboration of OMNR, Trent, and Rainy River Resources.
Hazel Wheeler. The only
attempt to describe the daily
movements of Chimney Swifts
was an anecdotal study of a few
pairs in 1958. Hazel seeks to
rectify this - she began her MSc
research in 2010 to continually
(every few seconds, all summer)
radio-track Chimney Swifts and
their foraging behaviour. Some
important questions will be answered: What is the relevance of waterbodies to foraging? How do swifts balance time between foraging, incubating, and roosting? These and many more questions have policy implications for this threatened species.
Lucy Brown is a Biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. She joined the Nocera Lab to study Species-at-Risk in 2010, after having spent more than a decade studying raccoon rabies in Ontario. Her MSc background is in avian ecology, which meshes well with her current endeavours. She is leading a spatially explicit study of breeding grassland birds and assists with many other projects, such as our winter work on Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.
Val von Zuben is a Technician with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources. She joined the Nocera Lab to study Species-at-Risk in 2010, after having spent many years studying raccoon rabies in Ontario. She is leading a study on determing diet of American badgers in the province and assists with many other projects, such as our winter work on Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.
Lab NewsUpcoming defence
On Monday, Dec 3, Hazel Wheeler will be defending her thesis on Chimney Swifts. 10:00 a.m. in room 107.1 of Blackbrun Hall.Did you know...
...that we have TWO subspecies of American badger in Ontario?
A 2012 paper by lab alum Danielle Ethier and collaborators illustrates that badgers in northwestern Ontario (when they are there) are likely members of the common midwestern subspecies; whereas badgers in southwestern Ontario are indeed of the rare jacksoni and in need of special management.Congrats to Leah...
Leah successfully defended her MSc in fall 2011, and her first chapter on chimney swift towers has been published in Condor! Further, her second chapter was a valuable part of the recent Proc B paper. Well done!