Monday, November 02, 2009

Migratory Bird Research Abstract

There hasn't been a lot of activity on this blog as of late. My summer activities have ended so I don't have any new photos popping up. I have also been working on a number of other documents as of late. Multiple essays for scholarship applications, the first draft of my research manuscript, an abstract for an upcoming conference, and an extended abstract package for a travel grant to the conference have all sapped my writing energies.

The first phase of my research is proceeding nicely. My proposal, status update, and another status update have been posted on my blog. We decided to focus the first phase of the research on the weather aspects alone as the statistics of the predator prey relationships are a bit more complicated. We later discovered that so were the weather aspects, but that's a different story. We have worked through most of these issues.

In February there is a joint conference in San Diego of the American Ornithologists' Union, the Cooper Ornithological Society, and the Society of Canadian Ornithologists. I have submitted the abstract below to the conference hoping to be invited to present my research. I am also hoping to receive a travel grant from the conference to offset the costs of getting there. In the coming weeks I should find out if my abstract is accepted and if any additional support will be provided.

The writing was difficult as I have a lot to say, but the abstracts are limited to less than 180 words. The extended abstract for the travel grant was limited to three double spaced pages with graphs and references. This was also very tight. There wasn't any room to talk about the results of weather on the individual species. This is where some of the most fascinating results have been found. I guess its good to filter down now as my presentation would be limited to a 12 minute presentation followed by three minutes of questions. My first draft manuscript is pushing 25 pages with only limited graphics! I always thought it would be more difficult to write long manuscripts. I'm having the opposite problem!


The effect of weather on avian migration across diverse geographic regions remains to be determined. We evaluated the impact of regional cold fronts and localized weather phenomenon on the autumn migratory timing of multiple landbird and raptor species. The analysis focused on total landbirds plus the top ten individual species by volume along with total raptors plus the top five individual species. Using 11 years of data from the Idaho Bird Observatory (1997-2007), we determined significant migratory timing patterns which differ from the established literature with regards to the effect of regional cold fronts on autumn migration. Our data show a depression of migratory volumes of most species on the days immediately before, during, and after the passage of a cold front, with peak flights for most species occurring several days later. Multiple hypotheses may explain the unique impact of weather phenomenon on avian migration in the western United States; most notably that most avian species choose to migrate during calm winds and high pressure when the opportunity presents itself.


Robert Mortensen said...

Interesting research! I was recently told or read that the best time to see migrants was on the tail end of a cold front. Anecdotal evidence seemed to confirm that. It seems that your research is showing that greater movement happens a few days after a cold front. So is the migration still tied to the cold front at all?

It would be interesting to compare data at other bird banding locations like in Ohio to see if the same info holds true. Is it the weather only or does the regions geography have just as much to do with it? I look forward to hearing more about your findings.

wolf21m said...

Robert, nothing seems to be quite as simple as we think. Overall volume for our site is well below average before, during and after the front. Songbirds take 4 days to get back above average volumes here. This was a surprise based on most of the literature. I will say that while volumes are lower, we do seem to see greater diversity right behind the front (not tested statistically). For example, one day at IBO right behind the front we banded the Hermit Warbler. One of only 15 birds caught that day (average is near 70). This was only the 5th report of a Hermit being seen in Idaho and a first ever capture. I will keep you posted on the findings, but won't be able to share all of my results online as we are seeking to publish in a journal. I will be presenting the results in different forums and will be sure to post the times and locations. Thanks for the interest.