Comparing Resource Use in White-winged & Mourning Doves Between Native and Agricultural Habitats

Native habitats and agricultural complexes provide different resources to avian consumers.  These contrasting habitats also produce contrasting stable isotope signatures in the tissues of consumers.  We can use these signatures to compare and contrast how sympatric avian species differentiate resource use on the landscape. (Collaborator: Craig Stricker, USGS)

Adult & Juvenile Dispersal of Burbot

The Wind River drainage is at the southern range of burbot distribution in western North America.  It is poorly understood at what age and from where Burbot within the Wind River drainage disperse.  Using environmental cues, recorded in the otoliths of juvenile and adult Burbot, we are attempting to explain these movements by relating otolith microchemistry to water microchemistry within the watershed. (Collaborators: Joe Deromedi, Paul Gerrity, Kevin Johnson, Wyoming Game and Fish Department; David Skates & Mike Mazur, USFWS; Dr. James Hobbs, UC Davis)

Determining the timing, source, and status of illegally introduced Walleye

Recently, walleye were illegally introduced into Buffalo Bill Reservoir in northwestern Wyoming.  Using otolith microchemistry, we have been able to determine the source,timing, and reproductive status of the current population. (Collaborator: Jason Burckhardt, Wyoming Game and Fish Department; Dr. James Hobbs, UC Davis)

Funded Projects

Using Biomarkers to Characterize Big Game Ungulate Populations

Stable isotopes hold promise in differentiating populations of big game ungulates in Wyoming and describing migratory and non-migratory behavior.  (Collaborator: Wyoming Game& Fish Department; Matt Kaufmann, USGS; Jim Hobbs & Justin Glessner, UC Davis )

Differentiate lacustrine and lotic sauger populations and identify natal origins of adult and juvenile sauger in the Wind River Watershed

Sauger in the upper Wind River watershed continue to show population declines.  This study seeks to identify spawning locations, important juvenile rearing locations, and differentiate lake and river populations. (Collaborator: Joe Deromedi, Paul Gerrity, & Kevin Johnson, Wyoming Game & Fish Department; David Skates & Mike Mazur, USFWS; Dr. James Hobbs, UC Davis).

LInking Breeding and Wintering Populations of White-winged Doves That Breed in the southwestern United States

Describing the wintering distribution of migratory birds is a key factor in developing comprehensive conservation plans to benefit bird species.  We are using stable isotopes and genetic analysis to differentiate U.S breeding populations and are now using that data to link breeding and wintering populations of white-winged doves. (Collaborators: Texas Parks & Wildlife; Arizona Game & Fish Department; New Mexico Department of Game & Fish; USFWS; Carlos Martinez del Rio, Tim Robinson, University of Wyoming)

Photo by © Scott Page 2009

Photo by © Ashley Hockenberry 2011

Investigating lesser prairie-chicken seasonal habitat use, reproduction, and survival to understand patterns of declining lek attendance (click title to learn more)

This project seeks to understand how vegetation characteristics and seasonal habitat use in a managed landscape affect reproduction and survival of adult and juvenile lesser prairie-chickens. (Collaborators: Dr. William Gould, NMSU; Clay Nichols, USFWS; Randy Howard, BLM; Joseph Sands and Grant Beauprez, NMDGF; JIm Weaver and Willard Hicks, Grasslands Lands Charitable Trust)

Photo by © Andy Lawrence 2014

Determining the sources of juvenile Snake River Cutthroat recruitment to Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park using stable isotopes

We are using stable isotopes to differentiate tributaries to Jackson Lake in Grand Teton National Park to determine the primary source of juvenile recruitment to the adult population of fish found within the main lake system. Information from this study can/will be used to prioritize watershed conservation for Snake River cutthroat trout in Teton National Park (Collaborator: Rob Gibpson, Tracy Stephens, Diana Miller, Wyoming Game & Fish Department; Sue Consolo-Murphy, U.S. Park Service; Dr. James Hobbs, UC Davis).

Measuring Habitat Use and Demographic Response of Scaled Quail to Large-Scale Habitat Restoration Efforts in southwestern New Mexico (click title to learn more)

Over the last 100 years, Chihuahuahan Desert grasslands have been altered through the encroachment of woody shrubs by overgrazing and periodic drought. This study seeks to understand how a ground dwelling bird species responds to restoration of its preferred grassland habitats by investigating habitat use, reproduction, and survival. (Collaborators: NM Quail Inc.; Ray Lister & Steven Torrez, BLM; Joseph Sands, NMDGF; Dr. William Gould, NMSU; Dept. Fish, Wildlife, & Conservation Ecology, NMSU).

Future Research

Grants Submitted or in Preparation

Investigating threshold limits of oil and gas development that negatively impact populations of lesser prairie-chickens (click title to learn more)

It is understood that disturbance can have negative impacts on bird populations.  However, what this threshold is, is not clear.  This study seeks to understand if populations of lesser prairie-chickens inhabiting landscapes with varying degrees of oil and gas development exhibit differences in habitat use, demography, and avoidance of roads and structures (power lines, well pads, etc.).

(Collaborators: Clay Nichols, USFWS; Dr. William Gould, NMSU).

Seasonal use of native and non-native CRP by lesser prairie-chickens in eastern New Mexico

It is unclear to what extent and during what seasons Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) lands are used by lesser prairie-chickens in eastern New Mexico. This study seeks to find answers to this question by tracking radio collared birds throughout their annual cycle.

(Collaborators: Clay Nichols, USFWS; Dr. William Gould, NMSU; Grant Beauprez, NMDGF; Tish McDaniel, TNC).

Reliance of Sandhill Cranes on Corn Subsidies at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. 

Wintering populations of sandhill cranes utilize corn grown within the refuge as a winter food source.  The overall importance of this corn versus other native food plants is not well understood.  This study utilizes stable isotope to differentiate between agricultural and native food items in the diets of sandhill cranes using multiple tissue analysis of hunter harvested  and rocket net captured birds. (Collaborator: Matt Boggie, NMSU, Dan Collins, USFWS, John Vradenburg, USFWS-BdANWR)




Tracking Band-tailed Pigeons to Determine Seasonal Habitat Use in New Mexico (click title to learn more)

Very little is known about the interior population of band-tailed pigeons that range from the four corners region of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico southeast to the Davis Mountains of Texas.  This study seeks to build the initial framework for developing an understanding of their ecology by fitting pigeons across the region with transmitters to determine seasonal movement patterns.

(Collaborators: Dan Collins, USFWS; Scott Lerich, NWTF; Clait Braun , Grouse Inc.; Todd Sanders, USFWS; Private landowners of NM).

Spatial Ecology of Wintering Sandhill Cranes in the Middle Rio Grand Valley

(Collaborator: Dan Collins, John Vradenburg, USFWS; Matt Boggie, NMSU; Patrick Donnely, IWJV-USFWS)

An estimated 17,000 greater sandhill cranes winter in the Middle Rio Grande Valley from Albuquerque to Hatch, NM.  These birds comprise breeding populations from Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.  This study will primarily characterize winter survival, habitat use, food availability, and bioenergetics to estimate crane carrying capacity.  Secondarily, this study will investigate the timing of migration, use of staging areas by discrete breeding populations, and understand how spatial and temporal land use changes in the valley have altered available habitat, river morphology, and historical wintering ground distribution.

Current Research

Determining the source of juvenile red band rainbow trout recruitment to the Kootenai River in Montana and Idaho using stable strontium isotopes

We are using stable isotopes to differentiate tributaries to the Kootenai River to determine the primary source of juvenile recruitment to the adult population of fish found within the main river system.  (Collaborator: Dr. Michael Quist, University of Idaho-ID Coop Unit; Justin Glessner and Dr. James Hobbs, UC Davis).

Status of the Peregrine Falcon in New Mexico

We are currently analyzing 30 years of demographic data to determine if state listing of the peregrine falcon is New Mexico is still warranted.

(Collaborator: Brian Milsap, USFWS, Kristen Madden, NMDGF, Terry Johnson; Don Delorenzo; Brian Dykstra, USFS)

Puerto Rican Parrot Conservation

(Collaborator: Brian Ramos, PRDNR; Marisel Lopez, USFWS; Dr. Timothy Wright, NMSU)

Comparing Scaled Quail Ecology in Multiple Habitat Types and Demographic Response to Climate

(Collaborator: Junior Kearns, Patrick Morrow; White Sands Missile Range)

This study will compare habitat use and demography in two different habitat types on White Sands Missile Range.  Data from this study will be used to inform response of scaled quail to future habitat management program, such as fire, and gather data on response of scaled quail nest success to temperature and humidity. 

Response of Lesser Prairie-Chickens to Prescribed Fire and Mesquite Removal

(Collaborator: Randy Howard, BLM; Clay Nichols, USFWS, Christian Hagen, NRCS; Sam Fuhlendorf and Dwayne Elmore, OSU).  Photo Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative NRCS.