Current Students



Kristen   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   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 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  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   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   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   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   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.

OMNR Staff

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.