Co-supervisors: Dr. Karen Hodges, University of British Columbia Okanagan, and Dr. Christine Bishop, Environment Canada.
Collaborators: Dr. Keith Hobson, Environment Canada, Klamath Bird Observatory, San Pancho Bird Observatory, Tierra de Aves A.C., MX
Many riparian birds in Canada occur at the northern edge of their range. There is little understanding of the overwintering locations, return rates, and survivorship of these birds relative to those in the core of their range. This research will primarily examine the range-wide patterns in overwintering locations and the factors that influence migration trends in riparian birds that nest in the dry interior of British Columbia (BC) and in Northern California.
This PhD position is designed as a comparative study of populations of two focal species, Gray Catbird, and Yellow-breasted Chat (endangered in BC). The student will use geolocator data, stable isotopes, corticosterone, and mercury analyses in collaboration with Mexican partners to identify overwintering locations, travel corridors, and stressors affecting these populations.
Preferred Qualifications: We are seeking a student with an MSc in ecology, biology, conservation, or related disciplines. We will look favorably on research experience with birds, including practical skills in bird banding and handling and identification. The successful applicant will have strong grades, likely with peer-reviewed journal publications, and GIS and statistical skills. We expect the successful applicant will also apply for graduate fellowships.
We ask all interested applicants to submit a cover letter, informal transcripts, and a CV to Dr. Hodges for initial screening (for full consideration, submit materials before December 15). Highly qualified candidates will be encouraged to apply formally to UBC Okanagan’s Biology Graduate Program for September 2016 admission; we strongly hope the student will be able to begin fieldwork in May 2016.
For questions about the position please contact:
Dr. Karen Hodges, firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about the Biology Graduate Program at UBC Okanagan:
For the Birds: Immense Possibilities is Rebroadcasting an Episode Featuring Klamath Bird Observatory
Watch this episode:
Saturday November 21st, 2015 at 8:30am Pacific Time on OPB Plus or,
Saturday November 21st, 2015 at 4:00pm on KIXE-TV.
You can also find the full episode on a previous Klamath Call Note blog post.
***NEWS RELEASE-FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***
November 13, 2015
Contact: Jared Wolfe jdw@KlamathBird.org
ARCATA, Calif. — Prothonotary Warblers are stunningly beautiful and highly migratory birds closely tied to their preferred breeding habitat: swamps and other forested wetlands in the eastern United States. Scientists have noted that Prothonotary Warbler populations have experienced precipitous declines in recent years, prompting new research investigating the little known migratory behavior of this remarkable bird. As part of this effort, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, Klamath Bird Observatory, Louisiana Bird Observatory, and Audubon Louisiana attached several geolocators—ultra-lightweight devices that record the time of sunrise and sunset each day—using a back-pack harness on several Prothonotary Warblers to identify their migratory routes and core wintering areas. The information collected by each geolocator was used to estimate the daily longitude and latitude of the bird.
“As part of this study, we deployed three geolocators on Prothonotary Warblers in Louisiana,” says Jared Wolfe, lead author and postdoctoral researcher with the Pacific Southwest Research Station and Klamath Bird Observatory. “After the breeding season, at least one individual completed its fall migration, over-wintered and made its way back to Louisiana where the bird was recaptured and the geolocator was retrieved.”
Data from the geolocator suggest that this bird traveled at least 5,000 miles through seven countries.
Researchers found that this Prothonatory Warbler’s migration pattern included an initial flight over the Gulf of Mexico from Louisiana into Central America, then east to the Greater Antilles for about one month, followed by a flight over the Caribbean Sea south to northwest Columbia where it remained for the duration of the winter. These findings contribute to a growing body of evidence that many migratory birds often use two or more wintering locations, or exhibit prolonged stopover behavior.
“Our results are the first to document movements of Prothonotary Warblers during their migratory and over-wintering periods,” says Erik Johnson, co-author of the study and director of bird conservation at Audubon Louisiana. “Based on the success of this study, we formed a coalition that includes researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Audubon South Carolina where we deployed an additional 47 geolocators on Prothonotary Warblers in 2014.”
By increasing the breadth of the study, the team of scientists hopes to better understand the migratory and over-wintering behavior of Prothonotary Warblers to identify core areas of habitat that may require additional protection for the species. This study also demonstrates that geolocators can be safely used to document migratory connectivity of species of conservation concern.
The findings of this study were published in the September 2015 issue of the Journal of Field Ornithology. To read or download the publication, go to http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/49289.
Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. Headquartered in Albany, California., the Pacific Southwest Research Station develops and communicates science needed to sustain forest ecosystems and other benefits to society. It has research facilities in California, Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. This news release adapted from US Forest Service June 10, 2015 Press Release.
*** NEWS RELEASE — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
October 12, 2015
Contact: Jaime Stephens, email@example.com, (541) 944-2890 or John Alexander, firstname.lastname@example.org, (541) 890-7076
A document authored by Klamath Bird Observatory and Lomakatsi Restoration Project provides guidance for private landowners interested in implementing oak habitat restoration on their land. The document, entitled Restoring Oak Habitats in Southern Oregon and Northern California: A Guide for Private Landowners, emerged from a collaborative project involving a suite of private and public conservation partners, including the Bureau of Land Management (Medford District), US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Klamath Basin Audubon Society, Oregon State University, American Bird Conservancy, and Klamath Siskiyou Oak Network.
Historically oaks were widespread throughout the valleys and foothills of Oregon and California. However, the arrival of Europeans to the region in the mid-1800s marked the beginning of a period of decline for oak habitats and their associated wildlife. Many oak woodlands were converted for agricultural uses or urban development, and decades of fire suppression during the latter half of the 20th century has allowed less fire-resistant yet faster growing tree species, such as Douglas-fir, to encroach upon and displace oaks. Now, the majority of remaining oak habitats occur on private lands. Private landowners are thus presented with an opportunity to restore healthy, wildlife-rich oak ecosystems to the landscape and thereby leave a valuable legacy for future generations.
The new landowner guide focuses on conservation practices for Oregon white oak and California black oak habitats. The document begins with an overview of the importance and history of oak habitats and then provides life history information for the oak species of the region. The guide next provides detailed oak restoration guidelines for achieving desired conditions in oak stands, such as diverse habitat structures, large oak trees, and the presence of snags, downed wood native shrubs and perennial grasses. The guide also includes supplemental resources for private landowners, including a list of organizations that will assist with private lands restoration as well as step-by-step instructions for monitoring birds to track the return of native wildlife following oak restoration activities.
This accessible, attractive, and informative guide is available for free download on the Klamath Bird Observatory website (click here). Funding for this project came from the Medford District of the Bureau of Land Management, a Toyota TogetherGreen grant managed by Klamath Basin Audubon Society, and the Rural Schools and Community Development Act.
Klamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, is a scientific non-profit organization that achieves bird conservation in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the migratory ranges of the birds of our region. We developed our award-winning conservation model in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion of southern Oregon and northern California, and we now apply this model more broadly to care for our shared birds throughout their annual cycles. Emphasizing high caliber science and the role of birds as indicators of the health of the land, we specialize in cost-effective bird monitoring and research projects that improve natural resource management. Also, recognizing that conservation occurs across many fronts, we nurture a conservation ethic in our communities through our outreach and educational programs.
New study shows how wildfire changes forests and the birds that live there a decade after a mixed-severity fire in southwest Oregon
PRESS RELEASE — FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 17, 2015
Contact: Jaime Stephens, email@example.com, 541-944-2890
Ashland, Oregon: As much of the West is experiencing drought-related wildfire, new research on the effect of wildfire on forests and bird communities has just been released. Researchers from Klamath Bird Observatory just published results from a 10-year study looking at the effects of the 2001 Quartz Fire that burned in southwest Oregon. They found that not only did the forest structure change dramatically over time, but the bird community changed as well, with many species benefitting from the fire, a finding that was only obvious at the end of the 10- year period. In addition, the researchers documented the role of the fire’s severity showing that for half of the species affected by the fire their response was dependent on fire severity more so than simply whether the area was burned.
This study is important because it looks at the interacting effects of fire severity and time since fire, and provides forest managers with scientific evidence of how wildfire can create a forest that meets the needs of both wildlife and forest management, especially as forest restoration efforts are increasing. Their results are published in the journal The Condor: Ornithological Applications (http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1650/CONDOR-14-58.1?journalCode=cond&).
The Quartz Fire of 2001 burned over 6000 acres of mixed conifer broad-leafed forest (a mix of conifers and trees such as Pacific madrone and black oak). Wildfires are an important part of southwest Oregon forests, and usually burn in a pattern called mixed-severity – which means the fire burns unequally, in a patchwork of lightly to heavily burned areas interspersed with unburned patches. The resulting mosaic is important for wildlife and healthy forests.
“One important takeaway from our study was the interaction of fire severity and time since fire. Often, fire-related studies measure the short-term impact and compare only burned versus unburned areas, however, in this case, we saw bird species that initially decreased, increasing by the end of the study and doing so with greater magnitude in areas that were more severely burned,” says Jaime Stephens, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Science Director and the study’s lead author.
Some of the birds that increased over the longer term were species like the Olive-sided Flycatcher, a species of conservation concern in the West. Immediately after the fire, this species was decreasing, but over time, it increased because areas that burned with high-severity resulted in standing dead trees where the flycatchers nest, and a shrub understory re-growth that provided the flycatchers with ample insect food. The House Wren, Lazuli Bunting, and Lesser Goldfinch had a similar story – they increased in areas that were burned and more so with increasing fire severity. The length of the study shed light on how a forest recovers from a mixed severity burn, detecting patterns that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.
“After more than 100 years of fire suppression, and now exacerbated by the effects of climate change, our forests may be at-risk of burning at uncharacteristically high severities. Today, forest managers are trying to remedy this problem with thinning and controlled fire, however, these common techniques sometimes fail to replicate the impact of a natural wildfire,” says Jaime Stephens, Science Director, Klamath Bird Observatory.
“The findings of this study can inform management actions, particularly when objectives relate to maintaining or improving ecosystem function” says Jena Volpe, Fire Ecologist, Bureau of Land Management. “Additionally, having long-term post-fire data, relevant to southwest Oregon, greatly improves our understanding of vegetation succession and fuel condition changes across our diverse landscape.”
So what does the study mean for forest management? The challenge of managing western forests in the face of climate change, drought, and a history of fire suppression is not easy. Results from this study show the importance of management techniques that mimic conditions created by a mixed-severity fire: a patchwork forest type, an abundance of snags, and allowing natural regeneration of shrubs. Using these techniques will make it more likely future fires will burn in a mosaic pattern as well, which will benefit birds and create healthy forests for years to come.
This study was funded by the Joint Fire Sciences Program, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, Bureau of Land Management Medford District, and Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000 Title II.
Klamath Bird Observatory (www.klamathbird.org) is fueled by partner-driven science programs. We use birds as indicators of the healthy and resilient ecosystems on which we all depend. Our science involves three integrated aspects: 1) long-term monitoring, 2) theoretical research, and 3) applied ecology. We bring our results to bear through science delivery involving partnership driven engagement in conservation planning, informing the critical decisions being made today that will have lasting influences on the health of our natural resources well into the future. Klamath Bird Observatory’s award-winning model was developed in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. We now apply this model more broadly throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, our intensive professional education and international capacity building programs expand our influence into Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Recently published paper describes meaningful ecological units (i.e., Management Domains) for collaborative conservation in the Klamath Region
August 14, 2015 – For Immediate ReleaseContact: John Alexander, jda[AT]KlamathBird.org, 541-890-7067
Patterns of plant, amphibian, mammal, and bird distribution have been used to identify ecological boundaries in the Klamath Region of southern Oregon and northern California, one of the most biophysically complex areas in North America. These patterns are described in a paper, recently published in the Natural Areas Journal, written by collaborators from the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, Klamath Bird Observatory, and other organizations. “This paper represents our first collaborative effort to link biogeography with protected areas management in the Klamath Region,” says the papers lead author, Daniel Sarr (formerly with the National Park Service and now working with the US Geological Survey). John Alexander, Klamath Bird Observatory’s Executive Director and a co-author on the paper added, “In the Klamath Region, natural resource managers are challenged with managing the complex array of environments that characterize the area. In this paper, we describe patterns that help delineate meaningful ecological units, or Management Domains, that are intended to advance collaborative natural resource management in the Region.”
The distributions of species described in the paper illustrate conceptual and spatial domains for natural areas management that provide an eco-regional framework for collaborative conservation. The paper describes a Maritime Management Domain in the western portion of the Region that is similar to other coastal areas. To the east, a Great Basin Domain that is similar to other Great Basin environments is also described. While conservation management approaches that have been tested in other areas of the west coast and Great Basin may be effectively applied in these two Domains, a third Eastern Klamath Management Domain, at the core of the Klamath Region, is more unique and presents novel management challenges. This third Domain has higher species richness and endemism than other environments in the western United States that are climatically similar, such as the southwest. Because the area is so unique, management approaches that have been successful in other areas may not be as easily applied in the Eastern Klamath Management Domain. Lead author Daniel Sarr explains further, “Because of its exceptional spatial complexity, it has not always been clear how management concepts and approaches developed in other areas of the West can best be used in the Klamath Region.” However, the species that characterize the Eastern Klamath Domain may be the key to the conservation and management of natural areas in the Klamath Region. The Klamath Region will likely serve as an important refugia for a number of at-risk species that may become more threatened by climate change. Therefore management intended to help the Region’s unique array of native species persist into an uncertain future is becoming a priority. This paper presents an improved understanding of how such species are distributed across the region which, in combination with knowledge about the species’ habitat needs, can help inform design of the novel management approaches that may be needed in the Klamath Region.
Dr. Sarr concluded the following about these research results, “This new paper represents ongoing efforts to identify spatially explicit management domains and serves as a step forward. The work will undoubtedly be refined through ongoing observational science efforts being conducted by the Klamath Bird Observatory, National Park Service, and other regional partners.”
To access a copy of this new publication, Comparing Ecoregional Classifications for Natural Areas Management in the Klamath Region, USA in the Natural Areas Journal contact John Alexander (jda[AT]KlamathBird.org, 541-890-7067) or click here. Click here to view a PDF of this Science Brief and News Release.
About Klamath Bird ObservatoryKlamath Bird Observatory, based in Ashland, Oregon, advances bird and habitat conservation through science, education, and partnerships. Klamath Bird Observatory is fueled by partner-driven science programs. We use birds as indicators of the healthy and resilient ecosystems on which we all depend. Our science involves three integrated aspects: 1) long-term monitoring, 2) theoretical research, and 3) applied ecology. We bring our results to bear through science delivery involving partnership driven engagement in conservation planning, informing the critical decisions being made today that will have lasting influences on the health of our natural resources well into the future.
Klamath Bird Observatory’s award-winning model was developed in the ruggedly beautiful and wildlife-rich Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion. We now apply this model more broadly throughout the Pacific Northwest. Plus, our intensive professional education and international capacity building programs expand our influence into Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.
Study results represent the first published documentation of El Niño’s influence on the survival of a resident tropical landbird and suggest that mature, un-fragmented forests may offer refuge in a changing climate
*** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ***
June 23, 2015
Contact: Jared Wolfe, jdw[AT]KlamathBird.org, 262-443-6866
Habitat alteration due to forest clearing and climate change threaten wildlife populations across the globe. To better understand the interacting effects of habitat degradation and climate on bird populations, researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW), Klamath Bird Observatory, and Costa Rica Bird Observatories spent 12 years studying the White-collared Manakin, a fruit-eating tropical bird, in mature and young forests along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. During the study, several El Niño and La Niña events—cycles of warm and cold ocean temperatures that influence air temperature and precipitation—resulted in very marked dry and wet annual conditions that allowed researchers to measure differences in manakin survival relative to climatic shifts. Results were recently published as the cover article in the journal Oecologia July 2015 edition.
In young tropical forests, researchers found dramatic decreases in manakins’ survival during dry weather associated with El Niño. Researchers believe that, due to a sparser canopy and their fragmented nature, the young forests were more susceptible to understory drying that reduced fruit production. Conversely, manakins’ survival rates were higher during wet years associated with La Niña events in these young forests where increased moisture and sun exposure likely led to an abundance of fruit resources. In mature forests, researchers observed very stable manakin survival rates regardless of climatic shifts, suggesting a relatively constant abundance of fruit resources.
“The complex structure of mature forest is thought to serve as a climatic refuge, buffering fruiting plants from climatic changes resulting in stable manakin survival,” says Jared Wolfe, a postdoctoral researcher with PSW and Klamath Bird Observatory and the study’s lead author. “Climatic refuges, such as mature tropical forests, may be important for many resident tropical bird species faced with the decreasing availability of mature forests coupled with increases in the severity of El Niño-associated dryness.”
These study results represent the first published documentation of El Niño’s influence on the survival of a resident tropical landbird. Researchers believe that variation in manakin survival between forest types provides insight into the sensitivity of certain species to habitat alteration. “From a management perspective, understanding how climatic events affect biodiversity is critical for the development of science-based conservation strategies,” says Pablo Elizondo, the Costa Rica Bird Observatories’ executive director and co-author of the study.
This publication represents an ongoing collaboration between Klamath Bird Observatory, the US Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station and International Programs, and the Costa Rica Bird Observatories.