Creating new knowledge is at the heart of a professor’s job. My research program nearly always involves birds, mostly land birds. Occasionally I am tempted into studies of other creatures, but my expertise is birds. I am particularly interested in how species composition of bird communities changes over time and as environmental characteristics change.
Some of my studies have focused on habitat fragmentation, including a long-term study of Barro Colorado Island, Panama, which has revealed how and why the bird community on that 100-year old fragment has changed. I have also been involved in studies of hummingbird communities in southern Costa Rica and studies of how internal fragmentation of forest via timber harvest affected birds in deciduous woodland of southern Illinois.
Lately, I have been developing a benchmark of the birds of Oregon to establish a baseline measurement against which comparisons can be made anytime in the future. Our benchmark measurement is a ten-year project with a completion date in the year 2020. We use exactly repeatable methods and sample birds at more than 3000 locations according to a stratified random sample of bird counting locations. It’s fun to think that our efforts will be useful to citizens and scientists for hundreds of years, or more. If humans survive the current insults we are inflicting on our climate, I predict people will be re-surveying birds at our study sites for a very long time into the future. Now that is an impact far greater than a Hirsch index.
Learn more about my research.