We combine theoretical and applied approaches to the study of the behavior and ecology of birds and the roles of birds in ecological functions and ecosystem services. We are particularly interested in how to make managed landscapes more hospitable for species that contribute significant ecosystem services. One line of research investigates patterns of bird activity in agricultural systems. With funding from the National Science Foundation and the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program we are working on the development of techniques to to encourage the presence of birds with beneficial effects on fruit production, with a focus on cherry and blueberry production regions. We are integrating research on the economic and social benefits and costs of bird activity in fruit crops through collaborations with economists and sociologists. A second line of research investigates bird interactions with abiotic and biotic components of tropical forest restoration systems. Birds are important mediators of various tropical ecosystem processes that facilitate restoration, including seed dispersal, pollination, and consumption of herbivorous insects. Thus, understanding why some restoration strategies attract more birds than others, and the mechanisms underlying these patterns, will help guide future restoration efforts.
Integrative Biology Department
Center for Global Change and Earth Observations (CGCEO)
517-353-9874 (Integrative Biology)