The Student Programs Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of four research grants for 2023. This is the fourth year of WFO’s university student research grant program to help 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 an anonymous donor. The Student Programs Committee and WFO Board deeply appreciate the support of donors to our student scholarship and research grant programs.
Recently graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, Emma Arulanantham will study over the summer the vocal discrimination and prezygotic isolation between subspecies of the White-breasted Nuthatch. Emma will be working in a contact zone between the subspecies Sitta carolinensis aculeata and S.c. tenuissima in Northern California. Her interest in this problem began with her senior thesis at UC Berkeley, and she will be expanding on her work while pursuing an MS in ecology, evolution, and conservation at Imperial College London in September.
A PhD student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Rosalyn (Rozy) Bathrick is working on levels of migratory connectivity in shorebirds, making comparisons across species and sexes. For a number of shorebird species, potential differences between sexes in migratory pathways remain unknown. Her project involves six species of shorebirds, and this summer she will be equipping Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs in Alaska with GPS transmitters and determining sex using molecular methods. Rozy’s research is being done in collaboration with the US Fish and Wildlife Service Alaska Science Center.
A PhD student at the University of Montana, Missoula, Bridger Creel is conducting research that concerns metal contamination and reproductive success in riparian songbirds, where the diet of birds may include insects coming from both terrestrial and aquatic sources. Bridger will assess the influence of decreased prey availability and metal exposure on the breeding success and physiological health of riparian songbirds in mining-impacted habitats; evaluate the relative importance of terrestrial versus aquatic insects as vectors of metal flux in songbird diet; and assess how remediation mitigates the hypothesized negative effects of decreased prey availability and metal exposure.
A PhD student at the University of California, Davis, Konshau Duman will study the diet of Red Crossbills in the May through mid-July period when available conifer seed is at its annual low yet alternative food sources such as insects, buds, and staminate cones are highly available. This is a part of the crossbill life cycle for which there is little information. Konshau will compare the fraction of the diet contributed by each food source between ecotypes 2–5, and how different components of the diet play into premigration fat storage and en route migration fueling.