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Habitat decisions in altered landscapes: Behavioral and physiological consequences for long-distance migrants

Caitlyn Gillespie and her crew survey for shorebirds in the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.

Duration

September 2012 - December 2015

Narrative

Increasing agricultural intensity is likely altering habitat characteristics that influence the condition and migratory success of long distance migrant such as shorebirds because agricultural landscapes can have reduced food availability. Although shorebirds demonstrate dietary flexibility during migration, overall depression in food resources and limited habitat availability may induce further competition. Still, previous research suggests that migratory shorebirds prefer agrarian habitats over native habitats, despite the relative dearth of resources— a preference which may suggest the presence of an ecological trap as these habitats still clearly display cues that indicate quality habitat. Closer examination indicates that shorebirds may compensate for limited food availability by foraging more actively; however, the degree to which behavioral flexibility buffers against the negative impacts of foraging in areas with fewer resources remains unclear. It is possible that altering the landscape has resulted in fitness consequences for migratory shorebirds by reducing the energetic benefits associated with preferred habitats. In general, differences in the availability of habitat across the landscape, as well as annual and regional variation in habitat predictability, makes this a unique system in which to test the consequences of habitat decisions for migratory shorebirds. In addition, the wide spectrum of natural variation and anthropogenic change across a relatively short distance presents a rare opportunity to understand the scale at which plasticity in habitat decisions is expressed during migration. The goals of this study are to examine patterns of stopover habitat use by migratory shorebirds, the habitat characteristics of stopover sites, and how habitat characteristics may influence condition and potentially fitness for shorebirds during spring migration.

Research Products and Activities

Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Gillespie, C.R. and J.J. Fontaine Are Our Survey Methods Adequate for Changing Landscapes? An Assessment of Repeatability of Shorebird Surveys in Heterogeneous Wetland Habitats
  • Gillespie, C.R. and J.J. Fontaine. 2017. Shorebird migratory stopover responses to local and regional change: habitat decisions in a vanishing landscape. J. Wildlife Management 81:1051-1062. DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.21271

Thesis

  • Gillespie, C. 2015. Shorebird migratory stopover responses to local and regional change: Habitat decisions in a vanishing landscape. M.S. Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Presentations

  • Gillespie, C. and J.J. Fontaine. 2013. Habitat decisions in altered landscapes: behavioral and physiological consequences for long-distance migrants. Nebraska Chapter of the Wildlife Society, Chadron, NE.
  • Gillespie, C. and J.J. Fontaine. 2013. Habitat decisions in altered landscapes: behavioral and physiological consequences for long-distance migrants. Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference. Nebraska City, NE.
  • Gillespie, C. and J.J. Fontaine. 2014. Shorebird migration in Nebraska: Stopover habitat decisions in a vanishing landscape. Nebraska Chapter of The Wildlife Society. Kearney, NE.
  • See All ...
 

Current Staff

Federal Staff: 102

Masters Students: 247

Phd Students: 163

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 266

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 722

Scientific Publications: 1960

Presentations: 4355

 

Personnel

Funding Agencies

  • Great Plains LCC
  • Rainwater Basin Joint Venture
  • USGS Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center

Links

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