Birds Research

Hillside of village sacred forest with view of valley below

Sacred Forests in northwest Yunnan, China - a conservation priority?

Village sacred forests are small village forests protected as part of people’s religious beliefs and not because they are important to wildlife or air quality, and therefore may be better conserved without “official” conservation status.
Jun 2016
Field work

Measuring trail use with remote detectors

We suspect that bird reproductive success and community composition may be negatively affected by recreational use of natural areas. But, how do we quantify recreational use?
Jan 2016
Study lake in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Northern Wisconsin

The differential importance of aquatic insect productivity on terrestrial, insectivorous bird guilds.

Aerial insectivore birds have experienced population declines while other insectivore guilds have not. Paul’s research shows that aerial insectivore abundance is related to aquatic insect emergence, while gleaner abundance is not.
Jan 2016
Research team members meeting with refuge managers

Working with managers – sharing research results, and getting feedback on research on extreme climate events

Climate change has managers concerned about the future of their refuges. The extreme weather events project members have been meeting with refuge managers to help them understand what will happen.
Jan 2016

Understanding the effect of extreme weather events on grasslands birds in the U.S.

Analysis of the last 30 years reveals strong link between grassland bird abundances and precipitation variability.
Jun 2015

Forest birds in the sacred forests of Yunnan, China: what do they need for habitat?

Sacred forests in southwest China's Yunnan Province are keystone structure for forest birds of conservation concern. Jodi Brandt and Eric Wood set out to better understand what characteristics of the forest promote bird communities.
Jan 2015

Recreational trails are affecting bird reproduction

We might be loving our wildlife habitat to death. Research by Max Henschell, a PhD student, has found that recreational enjoyment of protected areas may be impacting birds.
Mar 2014

Change in alpine wetlands of Southwest China and its implications for wintering Black-necked Cranes

After a period of increase, Black-necked Cranes have been in decline at Napahai wetland since 2000. These patterns appear linked to the growth of the nearby city of Shangri-La.
Mar 2014

Birds that Love Insects that Love Lakes: How Insect Populations and Lake Characteristics Impact Avian Aerial Insectivores in Northern Wisconsin

Paul Schilke, MS candidate in the SILVIS Lab, is conducting research in northern Wisconsin to investigate how insects that live around lakes affect the birds that feed on those insects.
Jan 2014

The potential effects of extreme weather events on bird reproductive output

Extreme weather events are expected to increase in the future. Extreme weather could result in population declines if these strike during the breeding season for North American passerines.
Jan 2014

It is getting weirder - extreme events in satellite records

Extreme weather events are becoming both more frequent and intense. These events could be shifting bird numbers and their normal distributions in the United States. Ultimately, these weather events could lead to the extinction of highly-sensitive species.
Jan 2014

Do birds track climate or weather?

Brooke Bateman examines if fine scale weather data provides more information for modeling bird distributions than long-term climate data.
Jan 2014

If you can't stand when it gets dry, fly north: Dickcissels reliably track extreme weather events in the Midwestern United States

What happens when it gets too dry? Brooke Bateman discovers how migratory birds like Dickcissels respond to extreme drought events in the Midwestern United States and looks at what that means for future management and conservation efforts.
Jan 2014

Vegetation structure and bird populations across the US

Can you predict biodiversity abundance without fieldwork, sitting at your desk? Patrick Culbert can. Using satellite images and data from Breeding Bird Survey, Patrick estimates abundance of bird species across United States.
Feb 2013

Oases along the flyway: Identifying stopover sites for migratory birds in the southeastern U.S.

How do you find stopover habitat of migrants moving under the cover of night? David La Puma uses weather radar to see in the dark and identify sites across the southeastern U.S.
Jan 2013

Massaging the U.S. Census to look at the WUI and at housing growth trends

Dave Helmers sits down with me and gives the skinny on how he turns U.S. Census data into ecologically relevant products for answering some of the most pressing questions in land-change conservation science.
Jan 2013

Housing development is eroding the value of protected lands

Locations in and around natural areas are especially appealing for housing development. Unfortunately, this development may have undesirable consequences.
Jan 2013

How are birds breeding in New England affected by the weather?

Do we know how climate change and extreme weather conditions affect wildlife in particular bird populations?
Jan 2013

Forest Songbirds and Extreme Weather: How do Drought, Heat Waves, and Cold Snaps Affect Birds?

Global climate change is increasing the incidence of extreme weather events. Jessica Gorzo, PhD candidate, is studying how these extreme events are affecting the abundance, geographical distribution, and breeding habits of forest songbirds.
Jan 2013

Necessity spawns plasticity: Siberian Cranes abandon specialist foraging behaviors after an extreme flood event

James Burnham builds on his research at Poyang Lake following a 4-month stint in the field. During the winter of 2010/2011, he saw birds he has been studying for years in unexpected places and behaviors never before documented.
Aug 2011

Do we help birds when we help butterflies? Effects of oak savanna restoration for Karner blue butterfly on savanna bird communities

The Karner blue butterfly, a federally endangered species, has suffered major population declines mainly due to habitat loss since European settlement. Eric Wood investigated if restoration of oak savannas, critical habitat for this species, also provides an opportunity to protect important avian communities that use sparse canopy oak savannas during the breeding season.
Aug 2011

Predicting Broad-scale Patterns of Avian Biodiversity with Landsat Image Texture

There is not a map that predicts bird species biodiversity for the whole United States at scales that are relevant for a forester or a county planner. However, such a map is utterly needed to make realistic conservation plans.
Jul 2011

How are fires in western Mexico affecting hummingbirds?

Professor Sarahy Contreras has been studying hummingbirds in western Mexico for nearly 20 years. Her current project tackles the question of how different frequencies and intensities of post-fires affect hummingbird populations in the Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve.
Jul 2011

New multi-scale landscape indices for spatial pattern analysis

Understanding how spatial patterns of vegetation explain the distribution of organisms is a central theme within Landscape Ecology. Avi Bar Massada developed a novel method to quantify these patterns, which may be more effective than existing methods. He illustrates its effectiveness with bird data from Wisconsin's Fort McCoy.
Sep 2010

It's getting hot - heatwave and drought effects on birds

Climate change leads to increases in extreme weather. Tom Albright and co-authors investigate the effect of heatwaves and drought on bird abundance and diversity in the conterminous United States.
Aug 2010

Modeling habitat use patterns of critically endangered Siberian Cranes and other wintering waterbirds in Poyang Lake, People's Republic of China

Poyang Lake, one of China's most diverse wildlife areas, increasingly faces shifting use patterns and new threats to the wildlife and human communities who call it home. Ph.D. candidate James Burnham seeks to understand how changing lake hydro-dynamics and human impacts affect the local wildlife, particularly the critically endangered Siberian Crane.
Aug 2010

If you build it, they will come - but can you still conserve biodiversity?

If you build it, they will come is a cliche, to say the least. In the context of parks, recreation trails, and conservation of biodiversity, Marty Pfeiffer offers a new twist on the old cliche: If they come, can you still conserve biodiversity?
Aug 2010

The potential of image texture for measuring vertical vegetation structure

Vegetation structure is an important habitat attribute characterizing bird habitat. Measuring vegetation structure in the field is time consuming and thus inefficient across large scales. Eric Wood is exploring whether use of a metric called image texture derived from satellite and aerial images can potentially streamline the process of assessing vegetation structure and facilitate prediction of bird distribution across large areas.
Aug 2010

Land use scenarios and effects on bird habitat in Northern Wisconsin

Trends in land use, and in turn wildlife habitat loss, are closely interlinked with economics. Predicting forest bird diversity under different simulated land use scenarios, including both ecological and economic parameters, improves our understanding of the effects and drivers of habitat loss.
Aug 2010

Of lasers, forests, birds, and collaboration: using LiDAR to predict forest structure and songbird species richness

A 2005 news item in The Sauk Prairie Eagle prompted Adrian Lesak to dive right into the emerging field of laser remote sensing for forestry and biodiversity applications while forming an international research collaboration.
Jul 2010

Things aren't as they used to be: forest disturbance, birds, and the shifting baseline syndrome

Can a bumper sticker inspire innovative research? In the case of Chad Rittenhouse PhD, a chance sighting motivated an innovative line of research that questions how changes occur in the natural world and how we perceive and measure these changes.
Jul 2010

Studying Intertwined Networks of Human-Natural Relationships in Northwest Yunnan, China

Last fall, Jodi Brandt started a new, exciting project studying intertwined networks of human-natural relationships in NW Yunnan, China. Jodi will primarily use high-tech remote sensing and geographic information system approaches to uncover some of the mysteries of her study region.
Mar 2010

Can Wisconsin's Wood Warblers Cope With the Loss of Oaks?

The woodlands of the upper Midwest are undergoing a major transformation as oak forests and savannas are being replaced by maples. How will this transformation affect Wisconsin wildlife, such as our colorful migrant wood warblers? A field team led by SILVIS researcher and graduate student Eric Wood is trying to find out.
Jan 2010