Current Students

James Mouton, PhD Student

Adam Mitchell, PhD Candidate

Within ecology and evolution, I am particularly interested in biogeography, life history strategies, thermal ecology, animal architecture, and tropical ecology. My dissertation research explores these topics in birds at two disparate field sites along an elevational gradient on Mt. Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo. I am using an experimental manipulation to test if harsh weather may cause slow life history strategies of birds at high elevations (3,200 meters/10,500 feet elevation). Additionally, in collaboration with the Blair Wolf lab at UNM, I use observational and experimental approaches to investigate the energetic costs of different weather conditions (temperature and rainfall) of nestling birds using the doubly-labeled water technique. Lastly, I am exploring avian nest structure varieties to quantify parental effort in nest building and whether or not this reflects a species’ placement along the slow-fast life history continuum. My work has important ramifications for both basic (theoretical ecology) and applied (predicting species’ responses to changing weather patterns) sciences.

Learn More: Adam's profile and life history strategies.

Tim Forrester, PhD Student

I am currently working on Dr. Martin’s Borneo bird project and will be joining his lab as a PhD Candidate in the Fall 2018 semester. By working on a variety of projects throughout North and South America, I have realized that I am most fascinated by the ecology, evolution, and mechanisms of life history strategies, as well as the variation and plasticity of these strategies along geographic, environmental, and climatic gradients. I have a particular interest in egg thermoregulation and its consequences for development, growth, and survival. In the past, I examined the role that egg and environmental temperatures play in influencing the incubation behavior of a neotropical montane songbird which lives in an area of high environmental temperature variation. I also have an interest in how individuals select breeding sites that will maximize their breeding performance and have examined this using riparian songbirds in an arid western valley and a nightjar in the Canadian boreal forest. As part of MTCWRU, I plan to develop a project within the broad theme of how seasonality (i.e., severe drought for most of the year and a short, productive wet season) affects the life history strategies of tropical dry forest birds.

Elise Zarri, PhD Student

My broad research interests include conservation ecology, management, and community biology with an emphasis in avifauna. The interactions between birds and their ecological surroundings is my principal interest to better understand current conservation challenges and inform management decisions. I received my B.S. in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology from the University of California, Davis in 2015 and I have worked on various avian field projects since then, primarily with nesting songbirds. My dissertation will examine how removal of conifers encroaching on diminishing sagebrush habitat impacts the reproductive output of sagebrush songbirds in southern Montana. Conifer removal has been shown to increase abundances of these songbirds, but the impacts on nest success are still unknown. In collaboration with multiple state and federal agencies, my research will quantify the impact of conifer removal on songbird nest success and aims to provide management suggestions for reducing declines of these species.

Sarah Straughan, MS Candidate