Ornithological research in the Department is taxonomically and geographically diverse and interdisciplinary, although most work involves the study of basic avian biology and ecology and its application to applied, conservation-related problems. Faculty and their students in the program study songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, and seabirds in places such as arctic Canada and Alaska, the tropical islands of the Caribbean, the Great Basin wetlands of Utah and California, and the deciduous forests of eastern North America. In association with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Coastal Field Station, a U.S. Geological Survey unit housed at URI, the NRS Department has also developed an active coastal bird research program. Research focuses on bird physiology, behavior, population dynamics, community ecology, landscape ecology, and restoration ecology. Examples of recent and current projects include: effects of habitat and landscape features on the avian community in forested wetlands; relationships among migratory birds, small mammals, deer, and ticks in the ecology of Lyme disease; colonization patterns and the evolution of the avifauna in Barbados, West Indies; nutritional ecology and physiology of migratory songbirds and geese; spatial distribution of avian biodiversity hotspots; impact of salt-marsh restoration on Sharp-tailed Sparrows; and landscape patterns of breeding bird diversity.
Associated Research Labs: Avian Ecology Lab