The Student Programs Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of four research grants for 2022. This is the third year of WFO’s university student research grant program to help graduate students with their field studies. As in previous years, we had many more applicants than we could support, and we wish all applicants success in their endeavors. We were able to allocate our funds to three students this year and to add a fourth grant due to the generosity of Sierra Foothills Audubon. Special thanks are due to Heath Wakelee and Steve Rose of Sierra Foothills Audubon for facilitating this support. The Student Programs Committee and WFO Board deeply appreciate the support of donors to our student scholarship and research grant programs.
A recent graduate from the University of Colorado, Boulder, William Anderson (top) holds a BS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. During the summer of 2022, he will study a contact zone between eastern and western House Wren subspecies groups along Colorado’s Front Range. These subspecies groups have been shown to have divergent mitochondrial types; Will proposes to use whole genome data to clarify the nature of the hybrid zone and the relationships of these subspecies groups. His field work this summer will become part of his work toward an MS in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Colorado beginning this fall.
As an MS student at Walla Walla University, Washington, Rachel Daugherty is studying the phylogeny and taxonomy of Barn Owls (Tyto alba). The species has been proposed to have diverged into varying numbers of distinct lineages, and the taxonomy of the species has yet to be clarified. Rachel proposes to help explain the taxonomy and phylogeny of Barn Owls by initiating one of the first consistent and reproducible datasets of morphometric measurements. Her data will be compared with similar datasets in Europe and Asia. The WFO grant will enable her to visit the Smithsonian Institution, where she can examine a large number of specimens from throughout the world. She will also conduct fieldwork at Ladd Marsh Wildlife Area in Oregon.
A PhD student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Mia Larrieu is studying the effects of urbanization and hybridization on nestling development of Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees along an elevational gradient, taking advantage of a network of over 400 nest boxes set up for the Boulder Chickadee Study. Her work will involve collecting data on measurements and condition of nestlings, genetics, nest microclimate, and environmental conditions around nests. Mia’s research will help to understand how variation in life history characteristics plays a role in adapting to urbanization and to environmental change.
A PhD student in the Department of Biology and the Museum of Southwestern Biology at the University of New Mexico, Nick Vinciguerra is studying phylogeography and species limits in the Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre). Curve-billed Thrashers are currently classified into two main groups: the eastern curvirostre group (including nominate T. c. curvirostre, celsum, and oberholseri) and the western palmeri group (including palmeri, maculatum, occidentale, and insularis). Nick’s research will use genomic data, plumage characteristics, and bioacoustics to study the relationships between these groups. The WFO research grant will support the genomics portion of Nick’s research.
— John Harris
Student Programs Committee, Research Grant Subcommittee