Avian community resilience: response to environmental stressors

My research interests broadly center around global change ecology, especially regarding how avian communities respond to climatic and anthropogenic drivers. In my dissertation research I use a combination of community science data, long-term datasets, field studies, and large-scale syntheses to investigate the spatio-temporal responses of avian biodiversity to a selection of environmental variables. I take a multi-scale approach from the level of the individual organism (physiological ecology) to the level of the entire landscape (landscape ecology). In doing so I aim to investigate community-level responses from within a resilience-focused framework, which can provide important insights as to how avian communities may respond to future climate change and land use change scenarios.

I’m pursuing my PhD in the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Doctoral Program at Texas A&M University (College Station) under the supervision of Dr. Jacquelyn Grace. My research investigates the following questions: How resilient are songbird communities to acute environmental stressors? and, What ecological and evolutionary mechanisms drive heterogeneity in avian resilience across multiple spatial scales? 

Using project eBird, a large semistructured community science dataset, I'm investigating how the resilience and functional diversity of avian communities is affected by changing weather patterns and natural disturbance events at a landscape level in the southeastern United States.

 
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Avian community dynamics in the Coastal Bend region of Texas

The Welder Wildlife Refuge is a nearly 8000-acre tract of privately-owned land in San Patricio County, Texas about forty miles north of Corpus Christi and within the greater Texas Coastal Bend ecosystem. The second landfall of Hurricane Harvey occurred approximately 13 miles from the eastern boundary of the refuge in 2017. Here, I study avian community dynamics using a combination of field sampling techniques, spatial ecology, and passive acoustical monitoring with autonomous recording units.

 
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Physiological effects of climatic variables

Long term banding data can tell us a lot about site fidelity, productivity, and survivorship of bird populations. I'm using the MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship) dataset to investigate environmental drivers of shifts in avian body condition (quantified through Scaled Mass Index) in the Gulf Coast region of the United States.