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School of Environment and Natural Resources


Faculty, graduate students present research at largest ornithological conference in history

Aug. 26, 2016
Members of the Tonra Lab of Avian Ecology in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at the North American Ornithological Conference.
School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) faculty, staff and graduate students participate in a number of international and national meetings throughout the year. 
Several faculty and graduate students just returned from the largest ever North American Ornithological Conference (NAOC), which drew more than 2,000 ornithological professionals, amateurs and students from North America, the Caribbean, and around the world. 
The conference hosted by the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and held in Washington, DC, was full of expert-led workshops, roundtable discussions and interactive sessions and symposia on topics such as systematics and taxonomy, reproductive biology, population and community ecology, ecotoxicology and conservation biology. 
Other notable conference events included a rare visit from a group of biologists from Cuba, who were in attendance to present their research, as well as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Many of the school’s faculty encourage and support graduate student participation in conferences and national meetings. 
“Attending and especially presenting research, at conferences such as NAOC, is an invaluable experience to students. Nowhere else can you come into direct contact with so many peers and senior scientists, and get feedback and criticism on your work.  At the same time, you expand your scientific network and get a glimpse of the volume of great work scientists are doing, and most importantly, an appreciation for your place in that world,” said Christopher Tonra, assistant professor of avian ecology in the School of Environment and Natural Resources at The Ohio State University.

SENR was well represented at the NAOC and participated in the scientific program in a number of ways.

Symposia on timely and challenging questions about the biology and conservation of birds
  • Assistant Professor Christopher Tonra, “Adventitious molt in an overwintering migratory bird: color change, carotenoid content, and implications for seasonal interactions”
  • Assistant Professor Alia Dietsch, “The role of societal values in shaping conservation-related attitudes and behaviors”

Presenting in the General Session

  • Researcher Matthew Shumar presented, “Regional changes in breeding bird distributions: a strong proximate signal of land cover shifts in the face of growing climate pressure”
  • Graduate student Kaley Donovan presented, “Songbird conservation on the landscape scale in southeast Ohio's public forestland using habitat suitability index models”
Presenting Lightning Talks
  • Graduate student Bryce Adams presented, ""Predicting and describing gradients of forest breeding birds: linking ordination space to environmental gradients"
  • Graduate student Elizabeth Ames presented, “Linking Winter Habitat, Phenology, and Post-Fledging Survival in a Migratory Songbird”
  • Graduate student Alicia Brunner presented, “Seasonal changes in habitat utilization of Swainson's Warblers in response to moisture and prey abundance”
  • Graduate student James Wright presented, “Do migratory Rusty Blackbirds have a third stationary period in their annual cycle? Automated telemetry reveals the ‘stopover’ ecology of a species in decline”


                                  School of Environment and Natural Resources graduate student Alicia Brunner
                                  presenting a lightning talk at the 2016 North American Ornithological Conference, Washington, DC.

Poster Presentations
  • Graduate student Brendan Shirkey presented, "Population monitoring, ecology, and habitat relationships of sora and
    Virginia rails in northwestern Ohio"
  • Graduate student Kristi Stein presented, “Growth and survival of nestlings in two island populations of Blackcrowned Night-Herons in southwestern Lake Erie”


School of Environment and Natural Resources graduate student Kristi Stein presenting her research
during the poster session at the 2016 North American Ornithological Conference, Washington, DC.

Several SENR alumni were also in attendance and presented their research as a general session presentation, as a poster, or as a lightning talk.
General Session Presentations
  • Luke DeGroote presented, “The relationship between refueling performance, migratory flight calls, weather, and competition at an inland stopover site”
  • Lionel Leston presented, “How well do local scale cumulative effects models predict boreal bird abundance at larger spatial extents?”
  • Molly McDermott presented, “Long-term impacts of climate change on breeding bird phenology and productivity in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania”
  • Desiree Narango presented, “Do exotic plants explain dietary shifts in nestlings of an insectivorous bird?”
  • Daniel Shustack presented, “Daniel Habitat Selection and Nest Site Fidelity: Are we asking the right question?”
Poster PresentationsBryant Dossman, "Seasonal rainfall influences inter-and intra-seasonal terri¬torial dynamics of a migratory bird"
  • Marja Bakermans presented, “Breeding bird communities in sites created by Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation practices targeted for Golden-winged Warbler”
  • Andrew Vitz presented, “A Strategy for Grassland Bird Conservation in Massachusetts”
Lightning Talks
  • Bryant Dossman presented, "Assessing Plasticity in the Migratory Behavior of a Songbirds Using the Motus Wildlife Tracking System"
  • Laura Kearns presented, “Migration patterns of greater sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis tabida) from Ohio”
  • Jennifer Malpass, "Conserving our urban birds: Lessons from the OSU Yard Birds Project"