Zach is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Delaware, studying the response of bird populations to novel ecosystems that arise due to large-scale anthropogenic change. Using Neotropical migratory songbirds as a model, he is exploring limiting factors that may be responsible for observed population declines. He uses molecular techniques (e.g. stable isotope chemistry and genetics) to study trophic dynamics, breeding ecology, and conservation of biological and genetic diversity in birds. He received his MSc in wildlife ecology from the University of Delaware (2010), where he studied the bioenergetics and diets of Atlantic brant (Branta bernicla hrota). He received his BS in wildlife biology and management from the University of Rhode Island (2003), where he worked on the linkages between diet and energetics of summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), and worked in a lab studying the physiology of migratory songbirds. Zach loves to travel, and spent two years living on the small island of Kosrae in the Federated States of Micronesia, where he taught physics, chemistry, and environmental science at the College of Micronesia and Kosrae High School. Zach is also an avid musician, and has combined his passions for science and music by performing nature-themed educational music at schools throughout New England and the mid-Atlantic region.
Project: Metapopulation Dynamics of Breeding Wood Thrushes
We are studying the response of birds to large-scale anthropogenic change. Sensitive organisms, like long-distance Neotropical migratory birds are good bioindicators of forest ecosystem health and functioning. Habitat loss and fragmentation can lead to the loss of critical aspects of ecosystem functioning that humans are dependent on. Quantifying and understanding how sensitive populations respond to current and predicted environmental change will allow us to develop and manage landscapes while supporting long-term conservation of functioning ecosystems.
Our model describes a metapopulation (i.e. a population of interacting subpopulations) through a combination of relative growth rates of local subpopulations (here, patches), transition probabilities of individuals between patches, and immigration rates from a source outside the entire metapopulation.
Map of study area showing discrete forest patches in light gray and 21 sampling locations where breeding wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina) (N = 301) were sampled and monitored in Newark, DE, USA, from 1 May to 31 August 2011–2013. Patches are grouped by sources (dark red), sinks (pink), non-breeding (light pink), and unoccupied (gray), and defined as having positive population growth, negative population growth, no breeding evidence, and no occurrence, respectively. Arrows indicate movement linkages among patches (not all links are shown).
Favorite Outer Totalistic r=1, k=2 2D Cellular Automaton