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Recent news from the Centre for Wildlife Ecology

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  • Seabirds at sea - using auklet habitat preferences to inform marine management decisions

    Although seabirds spend most of their time at sea, we know relatively little about their lives away from their breeding colonies on isolated coastal islands and rugged cliffs. Alice Domalik (MSc), in collaboration with Mark Hipfner (Environment and Climate Change Canada) and Glenn Crossin (Dalhousie Univ.), has initiated work on the marine habitat preferences of Cassin’s and rhinoceros auklets. She is using GPS loggers to track the precise movements of birds on foraging trips during the breeding season, and spatial models to determine how habitat use relates to oceanographic features. Her goal is to identify important offshore habitat for both species that will contribute to marine conservation planning in BC 

  • Long term study demonstrates riparian restoration produces high quality habitat for chats

    Riparian habitat has been degraded as a result of urbanization and agriculture. Tim Forrester (MSc), working with Christine Bishop (Environment and Climate Change Canada), examined the efficacy of seasonal cattle exclusion as a restoration tool in the Okanagan Valley. Their work found that restoration efforts allowed for regrowth of understory shrubs, resulting in increases to the endangered population of Yellow-breasted Chats, and demonstrated that the breeding performance of chats in this new habitat was similar to that of birds in high quality reference sites.  

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  •                                                                                                                        Studying the critical post-fledging period to shed light on aerial insectivore population declines

    Despite extensive research the steep decline of many aerial insectivore populations remains a mystery. One unexplored period of the annual life cycle, that can have a large impact on the population dynamics of songbirds, comes immediately after young leave the nest when mortality rates can be extremely high. Chloe Boynton (MSc), in collaboration with Nancy Mahony (Environment and Climate Change Canada), has been investigating the habitat use and survival of post-fledging Barn Swallows using both hand radiotelemetry and four new Motus automated wildlife tracking stations set up in collaboration with Bird Studies Canada. She aims to identify foraging habitat and roosting sites and investigate land use effects on the juvenile survival of this declining aerial insectivore.  

  • DNA testing confirms that least terns are breeding in Hawaii

    The least tern of North America is closely related to the little tern of the old world. The western population, listed as endangered in 1972, was thought to breed only in California and northwestern Mexico. Pat Baird (CWE), working with Patty Szyzcs (Eastern Connecticut University), Jan van der Winden (Netherlands), Scott Waddington (Hoʻomaluō LLC, Hawaii) and Keith Hobson (Environment and Climate Change Canada), has recently confirmed that birds breeding on the Big Island of Hawaii are least, not little, terns. This is the first confirmed record of breeding by least terns in SE Hawaii. Geolocator and stable isotope studies were initiated this year to determine where this new population overwinters.

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Recent Publications


Boutin, S.R., S.J. Harrison, L.P. Fitzsimmons, E.M. McAuley and S.M. Bertram. 2016. Same-sex sexual behaviour in crickets: understanding the paradox. Animal Behaviour. 114: 101-110.

Cornell, A. and T.D. Williams. 2016. Individual quality and double-brooding in a highly synchronous songbird population. Auk 133: 251-260.

Cuthbert RJ, Wanless RM, Angel A, Burle M-H, Hilton GM, Louw H, Visser P, Wilson JW, Ryan PG. 2016. Drivers of predatory behavior and extreme size in house mice Mus musculus on Gough Island. Journal of Mammalogy 97(2): 533-544.

Hennin HL, Bêty J, Legagneux P, Gilchrist HG, Williams TD and Love OP. 2016. Energetic physiology mediates individual optimization of breeding phenology in a migratory Arctic seabird. American Naturalist 188: 434-445.

Katinić PJ, Patterson DA, Ydenberg RC. Condition dependence in the marine exit timing of sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) returning to Copper Creek, Haida Gwaii. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences. 73(999):1-8.

Kouwenberg, A-L, Hipfner JM, McKay DW and Storey AE. 2016. Corticosterone levels in feathers and blood of a colonial seabird are affected by year-round variation in environmental conditions. Marine Biol. 163: 42.

Knight EC, Mahony NA and Green DJ. 2016. Effects of Agricultural Fragmentation on the Bird Community in Sagebrush Shrubsteppe. Agriculture, Ecosystems and the Environment 223: 278-288

Küpper, C., M. Stocks, J.E. Risse, N. dos Remedios, L.L. Farrell, S.B. McRae, T.C. Morgan, N. Karlionova, P. Pinchuk, Y.I. Verkuil, A.S. Kitaysky, J.C. Wingfield, T. Piersma, K. Zeng, J. Slate, M. Blaxter, D.B. Lank and T. Burke. 2016. A supergene determines highly divergent male reproductive morphs in the ruff. Nature Genetics. 48: 79-86.

Lukeman, R., A. Christie and R.C. Ydenberg. 2016. Goal-dependent current compensation and drift in surf scoter flocks. Movement Ecology. 4.2: 1.

Ottenburghs J, van Hooft P, van Wieren SE, Ydenberg RC, Prins HH. Hybridization in geese: a review. Frontiers in zoology. 2016 May 12;13(1):1.

Ottenburghs J, Megens HJ, Kraus RH, Madsen O, van Hooft P, van Wieren SE, Crooijmans RP, Ydenberg RC, Groenen MA, Prins HH. 2016. A tree of geese: A phylogenomic perspective on the evolutionary history of True Geese. Molecular phylogenetics and evolution. 101: 303-13.

Pichegru L, Edwards TB, Dilley BJ, Flower TP, Ryan PG. African Penguin tolerance to humans depends on historical exposure at colony level. Bird Conservation International 26 (3): 307-322.

Reurink, F., N. Hentze, J. Rourke and Ydenberg RC. 2016. Site-specific flight speeds of nonbreeding Pacific dunlins as a measure of the quality of a foraging habitat. Behavioral Ecology 27(3): 803-809.

Tavera EA, Lank DB and González PM. 2016. Effects of migration distance on life history strategies of Western and Semipalmated Sandpipers in Perú. Journal of Field Ornithology 87(3): 293-308.

Tucker S, Hipfner JM and Trudel M. 2016. Size- and condition-dependent predation: a seabird disproportionately targets substandard juvenile salmon. Ecology 97: 461-471.

Uher-Koch, B.D., D. Esler, S.A. Iverson, D.H. Ward, W.S. Boyd, M. Kirk, T.L. Lewis, C.S. VanStratt, K.M. Brodhead, J.W. Hupp and J.A. Schmutz. 2016. Interacting effects of latitude, mass, age, and sex on winter survival of Surf Scoters (Melanitta perspicillata): implications for differential migration. Canadian Journal of Zoology 94: 233-241.

Weiser EL et al. 2016. Effects of geolocators on hatching success, return rates, breeding movements, and change in body mass in 16 species of Arctic-breeding shorebirds." Movement ecology 4.1: 1.


Recent Theses

Dagenais, Danielle. MSc, 2016. The habitat association of bats in the South Okanagan Valley, BC, Canada: radar-acoustic surveys to assess the use of vineyards by insectivorous bats (Vespertilionidae).

Macfarland, Lauren. MSc, 2016. Habitat-specific productivity and cavity dynamics of Lewis's Woodpeckers (Melanerpes lewis) in British Columbia.

Moran, Spencer. MET, 2016. Investigating potential growth, behavioural, and reproductive effects of nestling exposure to methylmercury in Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata).

Schwarz, Birgit. PhD, 2016. Population structure in Western Sandpipers (Calidris mauri): variation in genes, morphology and vocalizations in a migratory shorebird.

Willie, Megan. MSc, 2016. Patterns in winter site fidelity and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon exposure risk in Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) in the Pacific Northwest.