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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Graduate Defense Seminar

Apr 2, 2014, 9:00am - 10:00am


Molly McDermott, PhD Candidate, will present Conservation Value of Agroforestry for Flocking Birds in the Colombian Andes as her ENR Graduate Defense Seminar.

In highly deforested regions such as the Andes Mountains, the suitability of agroforestry practices may be of critical importance to avian conservation via the maintenance of mixed-species bird flocks.  Further, flocks within these systems support overwintering populations of declining Neotropical migrant species.  Despite a wealth of studies examining biodiversity in tropical agroforestry systems, bird use of silvopastures and the subsequent influence of the surrounding landscape are two important aspects that remain poorly understood.  My research seeks to expand our knowledge of the value of shade-coffee and silvopastoral systems to flocking birds by addressing the following questions: 1) How do flock composition, migrant abundances, and vegetative features differ among agroforestry habitats?  2) Which physiognomic characteristics are associated with flock and migrant use of shade-coffee and silvopastures? and 3) What is the importance of the landscape context for predicting flocking bird use of agroforestry systems?  To achieve these objectives, I studied mixed-species flocks in the Colombian Andes during January and February of 2011-2013.  I show the potential for these systems to contribute to conservation of Andean birds by enhancing structural heterogeneity within farms and forest connectivity in the surrounding landscape.  This study provides support for agroforestry as an important complementary strategy for conservation of flocking forest birds.

This seminar will be held in 333C Kottman Hall.