Identifying risks to, and future viability of, hummingbird populations requires accurate information on their status, present and past. Scientific inquiry that is well designed, carefully conducted, peer-reviewed, and publicly accessible is the key for providing answers. Research findings will help hummingbirds survive, reproduce, and thrive. Below are three key research projects for HMN.
Combining remote-sensing and biological data to predict the consequences of climate change on hummingbird diversity
KEY PARTNERS:Dr. Catherine Graham, Stony Brook University, Dr. Scott Goetz and Dr Pieter Beck, Woods Hole Research Center, Dr. Timothy Essington, University of Washington, Dr. Don Powers, George Fox University, and Dr. Susan Wethington, HMN.
KEY FUNDER: NASA NNX11AO28G
SUMMARY: We will better predict how environmental change will influence population persistence of hummingbirds, using classical statistical niche models, physiologically informed ecological niche models, Bayesian population models and plant-animal network models to evaluate the relationship between environmental data and biological data. We propose to combine time series data for hummingbirds with climate and remote sensing data to evaluate what changes have occurred in hummingbird populations. Some preliminary results suggest that increasing temperatures will adversely affect hummingbirds and that they respond quickly to changing conditions.
Interspecies interactions improve Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) nest success
PRIMARY INVESTIGATORS:Dr. Harold Greeney, Yanayacu Biological Station
KEY PARTNERS: American Museum of Natural History Southwest Research Station, Coronado National Forest
KEY FUNDER: USFWS grant 201815J857, the Population Biology Foundation, and the American Museum of Natural History Southwest Research Station, HMN.
SUMMARY: During the first year in 2007, we discovered that Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) were choosing to cluster their nests around Accipiter hawk nesting sites and, by doing so, realizing increased nesting success. In subsequent years we began to study the intricacies of this interaction, discovering that Accipiter nest placement creates a behaviorally mediated trophic cascade by altering the foraging behavior of predatory Mexican Jays and creating a three-dimensional enemy-free nesting habitat for hummingbirds. Check out our latest publication in Science Advances(pdf)
Developing a comprehensive coordinated monitoring program for hummingbirds
PRIMARY INVESTIGATORS:Dra Maria del Coro Arizmendi & Claudia Rodriguez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México; Dr. Susan Wethington, HMN
KEY FUNDER: USFWS Neotropical Migratory Grant 5087; USFWS Sonoran Joint Venture Grant F12AP00511; Biophilia Foundation; Cuenca Los Ojos; USFS International Programs, HMN
SUMMARY: This project includes both restoration activities and the development of field techniques that can help assess hummingbird responses to environmental conditions. Working in Mexico and Arizona, we developed techniques and protocols that include hummingbird specific point count, nest searches, floral censuses, standing crop measurements, insect assays, mist-netting and trapping studies. From UNAM, five Masters Student Theses and two PhD student dissertations benefited from this work as well as 17 students and young professionals from Latin America who have participated and worked in HMN’s Field Study Internship Program.
HUMMINGBIRD FIELD STUDY INSTITUTE / INTERNSHIPS
The establishment of the Hummingbird Field Study Institute/Internship program serves to expand HMN’s research capacity while encouraging cross-cultural relationships. A primary goal is to identify conservation needs of hummingbird populations through scientifically informed assessment services and research. This program complements the monitoring data by supporting active research projects that also help fill gaps in our knowledge. Relationships built through our Latin American Internship program and the field data collected by interns are playing key roles in advancing understanding of hummingbird behavior.
Activities of the Institute will include the following:
- Scientifically assess hummingbird habitats and conservation needs;
- Be the center of competency for Hummingbird Field Studies;
- Bring together hummingbird scientists and students to ensure that science and field activities continue to grow and remain vital for hummingbirds;
- Train students and professionals in hummingbird field techniques;
- Sponsor workshops in field techniques;
- Continue the internship program to foster cross-cultural relationships and train students and professionals, whose conservation efforts would benefit from knowing field techniques specific to hummingbirds.
HUMMINGBIRD FIELD STUDY INTERNSHIPS
The Latin American Student Internship program began in 2009 because of a suggestion by Dr. Jorge Schondube (UNAM), who thought Mexican students would benefit if they could study temperate hummingbirds in Arizona. Since then, its scope of students has expanded from Mexico to across the Americas from two to six interns per year with a total of 17 students benefiting from the program so far. Of the 17 interns, 6 have or will soon complete advanced degrees, 4 will enter graduate school, 2 are completing their undergraduate degrees, 3 are working in conservation related jobs, and one is a high school biology teacher.
With the beginning of the institute and the success of the internship program, HMN is building the capacity to provide studies that assess hummingbird habitats, evaluate the effectiveness of restoration actions, and provide employment and internships for the communities addressing hummingbird conservation needs. It provides a bridge for strong cross-cultural connections.
We thank the USFS International Programs. Their visa and medical insurance support makes this program possible.