In 2019, our lab and Trevor Hefley in Statistics were funded from NSF to study the population biology of grassland birds at the Konza Prairie. This effort integrates our individual-level physiological data, population demographic studies, movement data, and the long-term survey data to understand the relative importance of local factors vs. regional and continental factors in shaping the abundance of this declining guild, and disentangle the direct and indirect effects of precipitation on this systems.
We collected our first summer’s data in 2019 and hope that the global pandemic does not completely ruin our chances of collecting at least the banding and resighting data so crucial to demographic studies. This project builds on related research ongoing since 2013 but adds two additional species to our project. We are now focusing on three core grassland-dependent songbirds for individual-level and population-level studies (Grasshopper Sparrow, Dickcissel, and Eastern Meadowlark). Additionally, we will model the responses of the broader community in some of our analyses. Graduate students Katy Silber and Dylan Smith (Boyle lab) and Meenu Mohankumar (Hefley lab) are all involved in this project.
We are extremely grateful for support from the National Science Foundation (DEB-1754491) that makes this research possible.