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School of Environment and Natural Resources


TWEL Current Research

TWEL Current Research


Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake: Ohio Population Survey and Survey Technique Development

Evan Amber, M.S. Candidate

Advisor:  William Peterman  


Evan's thesis, supported by The Ohio Department of Transportation, is to modify and test the Adapted-Hunt Drift Fence Technique as a non-invasive and cost-effective alternative survey method for the endangered eastern Massasauga rattlesnake in northeastern Ohio. With our adaptation of this method, developed by Martin et al. in 2017, snakes will be guided along a Y-shaped drift fence to inverted buckets containing a camera trap.

TWEL Evan Amber

Funded by: The Ohio Department of Transportation


Filling in the Gaps for Full Annual Cycle Conservation of the Prothonotary Warbler: Phenology, Post-Fledging Survival, and Links to the Winter Grounds

Elizabeth M. Ames, M.S. Candidate

Advisor:  Christopher Tonra  

Summary: Every year thousands of birds migrate between the breeding grounds, in temperate North America, and the wintering grounds in tropical Central America. Many of these Neotropical migrants complete the various stages of their annual cycle thousands of kilometers apart, and events in one of these stages can effect events in a subsequent stage. Understanding these “carry-over effects” is fundamental to understanding changes in migratory populations and the conservation of those populations, as many are in enigmatic decline. The objective of my research is to explore carry-over effects between wintering and breeding events, and elucidate an unexamined life-cycle stage in a migratory bird of conservation concern, the Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea). My research will take place across the Hoover Nature Preserve which hosts the largest breeding population in Ohio. There, I will examine three important aspects of their ecology to test the hypothesis that carry-over effects from winter habitat limits post-fledging survival through impacts on arrival and breeding timing. First, I will determine if arrival timing to breeding grounds is winter habitat dependent using stable isotopes in bird claws to estimate winter habitat wetness and thereby quality. Second, I will track breeding timing and fledging success relative to arrival time and winter habitat quality. Lastly, I will use radio telemetry to estimate post-fledging survival as a function of phenology and winter habitat quality. My research will fill important gaps in the ornithological knowledge of the Prothonotary Warbler’s full annual cycle and guide forested wetland bird conservation across the Americas.

Funded by: The Ohio State University, OARDC SEEDS Grant, Columbus Audubon, Explorer's Club, Association of Field Ornithologists, Ohio Avian Project Initiative, USFWS.


The Impact of Amur Honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) Removal on Avian Assemblage Composition

Leanna DeJong, M.S. Candidate


Advisor: Stephen N. Matthews


Since its introduction to North America in the late 1880s, Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) has become highly invasive in the midwestern and northeastern regions of the United States. This shrub is highly adaptable, outcompeting native vegetation to create monoculture thickets. Besides negatively impacting plant communities, Amur honeysuckle can represent an ecological trap: lowering songbird reproductive success by falsely appearing to be a productive nest site. The shrub can also impact avian species composition. Generalists and understory (e.g. shrub-nestors) species seem to prefer Amur honeysuckle-abundant areas while canopy species and others do not. Due to its detrimental effects on ecosystems, many managers have invested substantial effort towards removing Amur honeysuckle. Albeit studies have explored the impact that this shrub has on avian species, few have investigated how birds might be influenced by its removal, especially in rural areas. The objective of my research is to explore how recent removal of Amur honeysuckle affects the composition of avian assemblages in rural riparian forests, areas that provide vital refuges in homogeneous landscapes dominated by agriculture. A better understanding of how Amur honeysuckle removal alters avian assemblage composition will help inform managers and optimize management strategies.

TWEL Current, DeJong

View completed projects here.