Stoddard Bird Lab news

Jessica CusickFSU student Jessica Cusick received the Cruickshank Research Award at the spring meeting of the Florida Ornithological Society. The award will provide much needed support for her research on Brown-headed Nuthatches on Tall Timbers. Her Ph.D. research encompasses a broad range of genetic and behavioral issues associated with this declining pineland specialist, but the award specifically covers the expenses needed to assess key hormone levels in chicks. Variation in hormone levels can have a dramatic effect on behavior, and Jess will attempt to correlate the hormone levels collected for chicks with the behaviors they display later as adults. If you’d like to read more about this research, Jess, Jim Cox, and Emily DuVal recently published s popular article in Birding Magazine describing the interesting biology of this small songbird. The magazine is distributed by the American Bird Association and is available by following this link.

Tom RadzioIn other Stoddard Bird Lab news, Drexel University Ph.D. candidate Tom Radzio is back this spring conducting an in-depth census of Gopher Tortoises on the Wade Tract. Tom currently is mapping the locations of all the burrows he can find following a recent burn. The prime conditions for burrow searching provided by the burn have enabled Tom to locate scores of small burrows likely to be missed by other survey techniques (which also have been performed on the Wade Tract recently). The small burrows are used by individuals less than 5 years old and typically only a few inches in width. Once burrows are mapped, Tom will be using time-lapsed photography to monitor burrow occupancy and eventually develop a precise estimate of the gopher tortoise population size, as well as the distribution of individuals among different age classes. He’ll also be able to compare these data with a tortoise census conducted over 15 years ago.

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