Many bird species participate in dawn singing, however, little is known about whether males are able to vary one simple song to convey different information. Using manual and automated acoustic recording systems to record dawn songs of field sparrows, I am quantifying singing performance (bout length, song rate, and song complexity) in relation to mate's fertility status and reproductive activity.
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Our research delves into essential questions about the winter ecology of the Lark Bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) such as survival, home range, and habitat use. We also attempt to understand the local-scale responses by the Buntings to grazing management. We hope to fill knowledge gaps for this relatively understudied species on their wintering grounds and get insights into the factors driving their range-wide decline. This valuable information will allow grassland managers to develop efficient conservation strategies. For more information: Principal Investigators: Leonardo Chapa Vargas (email@example.com) and Claudia Rosales (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Some of my research attempts to understand the behavioral mechanisms used by birds to acquire extra-pair matings, how these behaviors vary among individuals, and the relative contribution of such behaviors to an individual’s overall reproductive performance (the “art” of cheating). Focusing on Field Sparrows (Spizella pusilla), I have integrated the use of automated radio telemetry systems (ARTS) to monitor movements (specifically, extra-territorial forays), automated acoustic recording systems to monitor singing behaviors (via individual acoustic identification) and used DNA parentage analyses to investigate birds’ extra-pair mating relationships.
I have been designing, developing and evaluating acoustic recording systems for surveying birds using their vocalizations. I first focused on examining the effectiveness of using acoustic recording systems for surveying bird species in riparian areas of Southern California, US. Subsequently, I examined the factors influencing detection probabilities of endemic bird species in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico across a disturbance vegetation gradient. Currently, I am focusing on developing ways to better obtain estimates of population and community bird data via models that include data from different survey techniques and that identifies and account for multiple biases.
In collaboration with other researchers, I study migratory songbirds after crossing the Gulf of Mexico. We are evaluating the function and quality of two stopover sites for Neotropical migrants after crossing the Gulf of Mexico in the fall: Isla Contoy National Park and El Eden Ecological Reserve in Quintana Roo, Mexico, Ria Lagartos Biosphere Reserve in Yucatan, Mexico, and Guanahacabibes Peninsula in Cuba. We are assessing capture rates and physical condition of common migratory species and for some sites using automated radio-telemetry to estimate stopover behavior for a few focal species. Our results will inform conservation and management activities in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico region while also contributing to the development of full-life-cycle conservation plans for Neotropical migratory songbirds.
Nocturnal vocalizations are typically considered a characteristic of nocturnal birds. Nonetheless, recent evidence has shown that many diurnal birds also sing at night. Using automated acoustic recording systems and automated detection and classification applications I am examining patterns of nocturnal song in the Field Sparrow and, through automated playback experiments and automated radiotelemetry, I attempt to understand the functional role of their nocturnal song.
We know little about the true potential of using this flight calls for monitoring migrant birds. I am describing the vocalizations of nocturnally migrating birds in the U.S. and while they are stopping over in Contoy Island, Mexico. I am using a new technology, miniaturized microphones mounted on birds to record their vocal behavior. Critical implications of this particular research is that these data will help us to understand basic but important aspects of flight calling behavior and will assist us in finding better ways of analyzing flight call data already being collected by many existing monitoring programs. Manuscripts in progress....