Research Interests

I am an ecologist with an interest in the population and community ecology of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and intertidal soft-sediment invertebrates.  My current projects include:

1) Monitoring the changes in spring arrival date of Maine migratory birds.  Using a network of volunteer citizen-scientists, I have been tracking the arrival dates of Maine breeding birds for the past 17 years.  I am currently exploring the data through the lens of global climate change.

2) Movement patterns of Purple Finches.  Dr. Bets Brown and I are analyzing the 19,000 re-encounters of banded Purple Finches in the database of the Bird Banding Lab.  Our goal is to understand the patterns and extent of movements of these birds in different parts of their range.

3) Gene flow of Bog Coppers (Lycaena epixanthe).  This butterfly is a specialist on the cranberries (Vaccinium spp.), restricted to bogs.  The bogs can be considered islands in a sea of forest and agricultural land in Maine.  We have developed microsatellite markers for Bog Coppers that will allow us to gauge the degree of dispersal of Bog Coppers in promixate and more distant bogs.

4) Maine Butterfly Survey.  Dr. Ron Butler of the University of Maine – Farmington, Dr. Phillip deMaynadier of the Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Dr. Reggie Webster and I are coordinating the a six-year atlas project to determine the distribution of butterflies across the state of Maine at the level of townships.  We are currently in our fifth year of the study, which involves the help of over 200 citizen-scientisits.

5) Vocalizations of Red-eyed Vireos.  Three Colby students (Josh Lord, Andy McEvoy and Amy Beich) and I recorded lengthy singing bouts of 28 Red-eyed Vireos in the Colby Perkins Arboretum.  Using the acoustic software Raven, we identify the different songs each bird sings.  The repertoire of the birds varies from 10 to more than 30 songs.  The clearest pattern we have found is that a bird never sings the same song consecutively.  We are searching for other patterns in song renditions.  For instance, is song 16 more likely to be followed by song 18?   We are also exploring the similarity/dissimilarity of neighboring Red-eyed Vireos compared to more distant birds.

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