Current Students



philina 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 in numbers 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.

melanieMelanie 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 Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, 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.

joshJosh Feltham. The five-lined skink in Ontario is divided into two groups: an endangered population in southwest ON, 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 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.

ariel Ariel Lenske. Barn Swallows are classified as Threatened provincially and federally. Like most aerial insectivores, the reasons for their population declines are unknown, but are likely linked to insect prey. Ariel's MSc seeks to determine how Barn Swallows modify their foraging behaviour in different agricultural landscapes. To do so, she is continually radio-tracking (every 15 seconds, all summer) the foraging locations of swallows in relation to landscape structure, and assessing the impact of their foraging behaviour on reproductive success.


Lucy Brown is a Biologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  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 other projects, such as our anticipated work on pollinators.

Val von Zuben is a Technician with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. 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 demography of Black Terns in Ontario, and assists with many other projects, such as determing diet of American badgers in the province.