interests span multiple areas of ecology, and have primarily
focused on avian migration systems. In the tropics, I conduct
long-term research in a community of birds living on the Atlantic slope
of Costa Rica with my primary field site being at Rara Avis
reserve. However, as many of the birds I study there make
altitudinal migrations, I have worked along the whole La
Braulio Carrillo elevational gradient.
the temperate zone, I have worked on Tree Swallows in upstate NY, large-scale studies of life history variation along
elevational gradients, alpine birds
in BC, and new projects on Grasshopper Sparrows and migrant bats in local
Flint Hills grassland ecosystems. Please
visit my research pages
learn more about current, past, and future projects.
I welcome inquiries from potential students, post-docs, and collaborators.
Grasshopper Sparrow work has begun!
has been slow to arrive to NE Kansas. The birds are showing up, but
apparently, they are about 2 weeks late. Good thing too, because I'm
about 2 weeks behind! This morning, it snowed several centimeters so I
gave myself some much needed extra sleep, but I have been out on the
prairie by ~6:15 most mornings for the past week, surveying birds on 18
10-ha plots. I started surveying before all the plots were located, so
most days, I've stayed out to establish plots. We've been marking
the corners with GPS of course, but also with cute and highly visible
pink sparrows spray-painted on rock cairns. So far, I've only found
singing Grasshopper Sparrows on the plots with the most grass. Grazed
and recently burned plots (such as in this photo) have some neat birds
(Uploand Sandpipers!) but at this stage of the arrival and territory
establishment processes, not many sparrows of any kind.
I've had some GREAT HELP from the undergrads
now working in the lab! Above in the photo, Chyna Pei (L) and Allison
Bays (R) stand by one of the plot corners. Many thanks to Allie, Chyan,
Ian Waters, and Sarah Demadura who have all been getting up early to
come survey birds.
Bats make altitudinal migrations!
Check out our new review paper on these poorly-studied movements
am interested in altitudinal migrations of all critters, not
just birds. Whenever I used to ask my colleagues in the bat world
about what I should be reading, the answer was always the same; "Yeah,
bats make those kinds of movements, but I'm not aware of any really
good reference". After a few frustrating years of this, I teamed up
with Liam McGuire while we were both at U. Western Ontario. Our goal:
assemble and critically evaluate ALL the evidence out there for
altitudinal migration of bats. The result of that gigantic endeavour
was finally published online at Biological Reviews
this week. This paper is your one-stop-shop for everything known about
this very cool topic. And as a bonus, here is a photo of one of those
charismatic little creatures: a red bat Lasiurus blossevilli
that I found roosting in a Weinmannia
sp. at high elevation (~3000 m) in the Talamancas of Costa Rica.
New projects, new collaborations, lots of travel!
Everyone told me to expect it... but the transition to
life as an Assistant Professor cannot be anticipated. I'm crazy busy,
but loving my new life. In the month of January alone, I will have been out
of town for meetings four times! I attended the SICB annual meeting
in San Francisco which was incredibly intellectually stimulating, and
provided the opportunitiy to catch up with friends from UWO days. The
second week of January, I participated in another fantastic meeting:
this time a 30-person catalysis meeting at NSCent
that I helped organize. For 3 days, manakin experts and
genomicists brainstormed collaborative future projects. The plans for
this meeting grew out of the fact that for the first time, the full
genome of a manakin has been sequenced. I'm very excited by the
collaborative work that will grow out of this meeting. Last week I had
the opportunity to get to know many of the natural resource
professionals in the state at the Kansas Natural Resources
conference in Wichita, and at the end of this week, I'm off to Tulane
to give a seminar and work on a modelling project with a colleague
there. Whew! Oh..., and on top of that, we bought a house and moved! I
love the new reality but have to find more time to be outside.
Settling in to life on the prairie
The move to Kansas, although long and drawn out, went
without hitch and I am now installed in my new office, labs, and
gradually becoming a functioning member of the Division of Biology. The
last weekend of September (first full weekend here), I attended the
meeting of the Kansas Ornithological Society in Winfield, KS where I
met many biologists and birders from around the state. Saturday was
devoted to talks, but Sunday was devoted to birding. Hello genus Ammodromus
On the way back to Manhattan we stopped at the stunning Tallgrass
Prairie National Preserve and I fell in love with the Flint Hills.
I'm moving to Kansas!
I'm very pleased to announce that
I've accepted a position as Assistant Professor at
Kansas State University. Our move to the "Little Apple"
(Manhattan, KS) will take place late September. I'm
extremely excited about joining the strong ecology and evolution group
there and making this transition to the next phase of my career.
I will continue to work in both temperate and tropical regions,
and anticipate initiating new projects involving grassland bird and bat
migration. I hope to accept one or two graduate students
interested in pursuing research in my lab beginning the fall 2013.
other news, the first of my Tree Swallow papers (collaborative work
with Chris Guglilemo and Dave Winkler) was accepted at Functional
Ecology. Read the lay summary here
Tropical seed dispersal & phenology paper accepted... finally!
When I started my Ph.D., I thought it was going to be all
about the interactions between migrant frugivores and the plants whose
fruits they consume and seeds they disperse. The ecological and
evolutionary interactions between plants and animals continue to
fascinate me, despite this topic taking a back seat to the migration
questions that ultimately dominated my Ph.D. work and much of my
post-doc work. Nevertheless, alongside studies of the migrations of
tropical birds, I spent a great deal of time and energy trying to
figure out how migrations and species interactions generally influence
the fruiting patterns of tropical plants. This work never did make it
into my Ph.D., but I did eventually write it up, and now, finally, it
is in press.
One of the more unexpected and
interesting aspects of studying the fruiting phenology of tropical
understory plants was the tremendous diversity of phenological patterns
and fruiting strategies exhibited by closely-related species growing in
the same region. We known virtually nothing about the factors leading
to this variation. Temperate plant phenology is so predictable and
boring in comparison with what these tropical plants do! There is much
more to be done in this field.
New paper just published in Oikos!
Special issue on the ecology and evolution of Partial
was fortunate to be invited to present my work at a symposium
on partial migration last summer in
Lund, Sweden. The paper I presented there was chosen to be published in
of Oikos that came out this month. In it, I
a community-level prediction of the Limited Foraging Opportunities
hypothesis--that more altitudinal migrants should show up in lowland
forests in years when the high elevation forests have more severe
rainstorms. The results are consistent with this idea, but
the most interesting results for me, was actually a
analyses show that probably several species we think of as residents on
the Caribbean slope are actually migrants. These are species that breed
in the lowlands, but likely, their numbers during the wet season are
augmented by individuals breeding at higher elevations that move
downslope along with the other altitudinal migrants. Several species of
flycatcher and other small-bodied species fit this category. Read the
full paper here
the conference, I had a chance to go birding and bird banding. Here's a
photo from just before I fell into the bog, narrowly escaping being the
next bogman of Sweden... I was grabbed at the elbows as I sank