Leach’s storm-petrels are tiny, iconic seabirds found from the Bay of Fundy through Labrador in eastern Canada, and forage hundreds of kilometres offshore. Numbers of birds at some colonies have declined by >30% over the past two decades; the reason for these declines remain very unclear. Among the possible factors thought to be negatively influencing storm-petrels is mercury (Hg), a neurotoxic element that some studies have shown is high in this species.
In this Mitacs-funded project, a postdoctoral researcher will work with partners at Trent University and Bird Studies Canada to expand our understanding of how wind turbines affect birds and bats. We will leverage an extremely detailed database on wind-wildlife interactions that is managed by Bird Canada. Using these data, we will investigate whether bat and bird mortality are affected by turbine characteristics including height and the area swept by the turbine blades.
We will use a database of more than 30 years of scientific survey and citizen-science observations of common loon breeding on lakes in Ontario, as well as other parts of Canada, to determine whether loons now breed successfully on lakes where they were negatively affected by acid rain (and other human threats like development). Our data will be augmented by new surveys on the same lakes we have surveyed for three decades.
Bank Swallows (Riparia riparia), a threatened species in Ontario, breed primarily in either banks at lakeshores or at exposed surfaces in man-made aggregate pits that occur with and without waterbodies. Pits are suspected to be ecological traps for this species but the relative trade-offs in nesting at pits vs. natural sites are poorly known. Availability of aquatic emergent insects is expected to be highest at lakeshore colonies with associated nutritional benefits including Omega-3 fatty acids. However, Bank Swallows may experience differential mercury exposure depending on habitat use.
The purpose of this project is to conserve critical shorebird roost habitats at high tide in the Minas Basin of the Bay of Fundy in collaboration with recreational beach users, local businesses and tourism operators. The project seeks to develop long-term solutions for creating safe spaces for roosting shorebirds by identifying innovative strategies whose effectiveness can be measured using the Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation protocol. This work will allow BSC to develop an in-house capacity for the protocol as well as a proof of concept guide.
The Bicknellâs thrush (Cathurs bicknelli) is a rare songbird with the most restrictive breeding range in North America. The Bicknellâs thrush spends its summer months breeding in high elevation, stunted growth forests â a habitat that the species specializes in. In New Brunswick, there has been a documented population decline of 11.5% per year since 2001. After having identified specific geographic areas where Bicknellâs thrush present, this project proposes using radio-tracking to describe individualâs breeding home ranges and extrapolate population size and densities.
Declines in migratory bird populations have been linked to a range of complex environmental factors, including the dramatic increase in application of neurotoxic neonicotinoid insecticides in recent decades. Neonicotinoids are used as seed treatments in a wide variety of Canadian crops, and consumption of treated seeds could result in poor navigation and migration delays in migratory birds. However, the influence of insecticides on cognition and patterns of movement is poorly understood.
Thick-billed murres from breeding colonies throughout the North Atlantic, and common murres from colonies throughout the northwest Atlantic winter off Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland where they are the object of an annual hunt. The winter murre or turr hunt is an important part of the culture of coastal communities, and is protected under Canadian legislation. The colony of origin of hunted murres is unknown, although it is necessary to assess the impact of the hunt on specific colonies. The hunt could target colonies that are suffering great declines.
The Bicknells thrush (Cathurs bicknelli) is a rare songbird with the most restrictive breeding range in North America. The Bicknells thrush spends its summer months breeding in high elevation, stunted growth forests a habitat that the species specializes in. In New Brunswick, there has been a documented population decline of 11.5% per year since 2001. After having identified specific geographic areas where Bicknells thrush present, this project proposes using radio-tracking to describe individuals breeding home ranges and extrapolate population size and densities.
Migratory birds are in a conservation crisis, with accelerating population declines documented Canada-wide. It is a federal responsibility to protect migratory birds; however, a major gap in the ability to mitigate threats to these species is a lack of knowledge of their year-round movements. By using new tracking technology, our project will quantify movements and migrations of declining songbirds and fill knowledge gaps critical for informing conservation activities. Bird Studies Canada (BSC)s mission is to engage citizens in understanding and conservation of birds.