Research staff may include undergraduates, recent graduates, postdoctoral associates, research associates at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and at Hastings Reserve in California.
Elise earned her Ph.D. with Bruce Lyon at UC Santa Cruz, studying the evolution of tail-white variation in Dark-eyed Juncos. She joined Cornell Lab of Ornithology in spring 2007 as a Visiting Fellow, and then as a postdoctoral scientist on the western bluebird project. As a postdoc, she has taken charge of a large body of research that relies on microsatellite typing of the population to determine parentage, asking question about the relationship between extrapair fertilizations and parental quality, spatial and temporal proximity of nesting attempts, relatedness, relationship (fathers, sons, brothers), inbreeding, incest avoidance, and hatching order. In the process, she has begun to tease apart both the proximate determinants and ultimate fitness consequences of extrapair mating for males and females.
Elise is supported on a three-year NSF grant for western bluebirds.
Benjamin Zuckerberg (Ph.D., SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry) is a postdoctoral associate focused on using Citizen Science data (such as Project FeederWatch) to analyze winter bird distributions, abundance, and population trends at multiple temporal and spatial scales. His past research on birds includes multi-scaled studies on the effects of habitat disturbance on early-successional birds in Connecticut and Nantucket Island. His doctoral research focused on using New York State’s two Breeding Bird Atlases (1980-85 and 2000-05) to analyze distributional changes in bird populations in relation to climte change and forest fragmentation. His research interests include spatial ecology, thresholds in avian responses to habitat loss, climate change, and the use of emerging technologies in studying landscape-scale changes in bird communities.
At Cornell he is focusing on climate change and habitat loss, two of the most pressing environmental concerns of the 21st century. There is a growing scientific consensus that these phenomena influence bird populations at multiple scales, from local changes in population persistence to range-wide shifts in species distributions. Being able to document exactly how species respond to these environmental changes requires the use of citizen science data collected from multiple regions and for many years. Ben is currently analyzing data contributed by Project FeederWatch participants to study the effects of climate and land use change on wintering bird populations. With over 20 years of data, we can study how the habitat loss and shifting winter weather may affect the persistence of wintering birds at both local and regional scales. In collaboration with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, we are combining Project FeederWatch data with sophisticated temperature models to capture the dynamic relationship between winter weather and bird population dynamics at scales ranging from weekly changes in feeder behavior to long-term changes in patterns of extinction and colonization.
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