This page is a work in progress. More projects and details forthcoming…

Current projects

Motus Wildlife Tracking System

Coded radiotelemetry within an automated radio telemetry infrastructure facilitates the simultaneous and continuous tracking of animals without many of the organism size and logistical constraints of other technologies. Provided adequate infrastructure, it is well-suited to local scale investigations into the ecology and behavior of migratory individuals (e.g., during resting and refueling stops in between migratory flights) as well as landscape scale questions relative to anthropogenic influences. The rapidly growing Motus Wildlife Tracking System (Motus) provides this coordinated infrastructure. In short, Motus is sufficiently established to answer compelling, multiple scale research questions related to the ecology of migratory animals. I currently maintain four permanent stations on National Wildlife Refuges along the Atlantic Coast for the Southeastern Inventory and Monitoring Branch of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as contribute to multiple projects employing the technology (see below).

Merlin migration along the Atlantic Coast

Collaborators: Biodiversity Research Institute; Scott McWilliams, University of Rhode Island

In the falls of 2014 - 2015, we deployed ≈ 70 coded telemetry tags on southbound Merlins captured on Block Island, RI. Merlins tend to migrate coastally and so made an ideal candidate for coded telemetry work given the existing and growing automated telemetry network along the Atlantic Coast . The primary purpose of the project is to explore how Merlins use southern New England (and Block Island in particular) and the mid-Atlantic coast during fall migration, including questions related to stopover on Block Island, rates and routes of migration upon departure, associations between these movements and atmospheric conditions, and differences in migratory strategies among the sexes. We expect to deploy an additional 30 tags in fall 2016, and explore future deployments further north along the coast (e.g., Nova Scotia).

Seasonal connectivity of Saltmarsh Sparrow

Collaborators: Rhode Island, Parker River, and Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuges; Dr. Chris Elphick, University of Connecticut; Aaron Given, Town of Kiawah Island, SC; Tim Keyes, Georgia DNR

In the falls of 2014-2016, we are deploying coded telemetry tags on southbound Saltmarsh Sparrows captured at three National Wildlife Refuges in the northeast. Additionally, in spring 2016, we deployed tags on northbound Saltmarsh Sparrows in South Carolina. This work seeks to document the seasonal movements and phenology of a species particularly vulnerable to climate change and human encroachment.

Secretive marsh birds on southeastern National Wildlife Refuges

Collaborators: Whitney Wiest, US Fish and Wildlife Service

We’ve received funding to investigate the distribution and abundance of secretive marsh birds via standardized surveys on 21 southeastern National Wildlife Refuges. Field work begins in spring 2017.

Detection of Black Rails using Automated Recording Units and Camera Traps

Collaborators: Christy Hand, South Carolina DNR; Amy Schwarzer, Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission

Seasonal connectivity of MacGillivray’s Seaside Sparrow

Collaborators: Aaron Given, Town of Kiawah Island, SC

We’ve received funding to deploy GPS loggers on breeding and wintering MacGillivray’s Seaside Sparrow, a species under consideration for Endangered Species Act protection, to document the seasonal movements between saltmarshes used for breeding and those used outside of the breeding season. Circumstantial evidence suggests that they are not one and the same in at least some parts of their range. We’ll also be investigating marsh use relative to tidal stage. Field work begins in winter 2016.

Migration timing and routes on northbound, southeastern-US wintering Red Knots

Collaborators: Kara Lefevre, Florida Gulf Coast University; Kevin Kalasz, USFWS; Felicia Sanders, South Carolina DNR; Tim Keyes, Georgia DNR; Fletcher Smith, Center for Conservation Biology