Population, Structure, and Conservation of Neotropical Migratory Birds

Region:
North America (U.S. and Canada), Central America
(Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica), South America (Ecuador)

This area of research seeks to determine the factors responsible for population declines of Neotropical songbirds that migrate between Central America, Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. Despite efforts, researchers have been unable to identify discrete breeding and wintering populations of individual species. This has made relating population declines with likely causes, such as land use changes, extremely difficult. Using molecular genetic techniques (utilizing DNA obtained from a single feather from a bird), CTR researchers have been able to identify the breeding and wintering populations of songbirds. These findings will provide conservation biologists with the means of correlating habitat changes (e.g., urbanization, deforestation, etc.) with the declining populations. In order to integrate our genetic data with demographic data we are collaborating with two California NGOs, the Institute for Bird Populations and the Point Reyes Bird Observatory.

In addition, this research has been the focus of the SFSU Minority International Research Training program in Mexico. Working with U. of Guadalajara in the Manantlan Reserve, the MIRT program offers international field training experiences to young scientists from underrepresented groups. The 1999 MIRT program included a Summer Workshop in Avian Behavioral Ecology and Genetics for ten qualified students.

Related Publications

2015
Janeček, S.; Bartoš, M.; Njabo, K. Y. Convergent evolution of sunbird pollination systems of Impatiens species in tropical Africa and hummingbird systems of the New World. Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society 2015; DOI 10.1111/bij.12475.
2014
Ruegg, K. C.; Anderson, E. C.; Paxton, K. L.; Apkenas, V.; Lao, S.; Siegel, R. B.; DeSante, D. F.; Moore, F.; Smith, T. B. Mapping migration in a songbird using high-resolution genetic markers. Molecular Ecology 2014, 23 (23), 5726–5739; DOI 10.1111/mec.12977.
2014
Alvarado, A. H.; Fuller, T. L.; Smith, T. B. Integrative tracking methods elucidate the evolutionary dynamics of a migratory divide. Ecology and Evolution 2014, 4 (17), 3456–3469; DOI 10.1002/ece3.1205.
2014
Ruegg, K. C.; Anderson, E. C.; Boone, J.; Pouls, J.; Smith, T. B. A role for migration-linked genes in genomic islands in divergence of a songbird. Molecular Ecology 2014, 23 (19), 4757–4769; DOI 10.1111/mec.12842.
2013
Smith, T. B.; Harrigan, R. J.; Kirschel, A. N.; Buermann, W.; Saatchi, S.; Blumstein, D. T.; de Kort, S. R.; Slabbekoorn, H. Predicting bird song from space. Evolutionary Applications 2013, 865–874; DOI 10.1111/eva.12072. PDF
2013
Rundel, C. W.; Wunder, M. B.; Alvarado, A. H.; Ruegg, K. C.; Harrigan, R.; Schuh, A.; Kelly, J. F.; Siegal, R. B.; DeSante, D. F.; Smith, R. B.; Novembre, J. Novel statistical methods for integrating genetic and stable isotope data to infer individual-level migratory connectivity. Molecular Ecology 2013, 22, 4163–4176. PDF
2013
Njabo, K. Y.; Smith, T. B.; Yohannes, E. Feeding habits of culicine mosquitos in the Cameroon lowland forests based on stable isotopes and blood meal analyses. Journal of Parasitology and Vector Biology 2013, 5, 6–12. PDF
2012
Hobson, K. A.; Van Wilgenburg, S. L.; Wassenaar, L. I.; Larson, K. Linking hydrogen (d 2H) isotopes in feathers and precipitation: Sources of variance and consequences for assignments to isoscapes. PLoS ONE 2012, 7 (4). PDF
2012
Hera, I. D.; DeSante, D. F.; Milá, B. Feather growth rate and mass in nearctic passerines with variable migratory behavior and molt pattern. The Auk 2012, 129 (2), 222–230. PDF
2011
Buermann, W.; Chaves, J. A.; Dudley, R.; Mcguire, J. A.; Smith, T. B.; Altshuler, D. L. Projected changes in elevational distribution and flight performance of montane neotropical hummingbirds in response to climate change. Global Change Biology 2011, 17, 1671–1680. PDF
2011
Irwin, D. E.; Irwin, J. H.; Smith, T. B. Genetic variation and seasonal migratory connectivity in Wilson's warblers (Wilsonia pusilla): species-level differences in nuclear DNA between western and eastern populations. Molecular Ecology 2011, 20, 3102–3115. PDF
2009
Bonneaud, C.; Sepil, I.; Milá, B.; Buermann, W.; Pollinger, J.; Sehgal, R. N.; Valkiūnas, G.; Iezhova, T. A.; Saatchi, S.; Smith, T. B. The prevalence of avian Plasmodium is higher in undisturbed tropical forests of Cameroon. Journal of Tropical Ecology 2009, 25, 439–447. PDF
2008
Milá, B.; Wayne, R. K.; Smith, T. B. Ecomorphology of migratory and sedentary populations of the yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata). Condor 2008, 110, 335–344. PDF
2007
Milá, B.; McCormack, J. E.; Castenada, G.; Wayne, R. K.; Smith, T. B. Recent postglacial range expansion drives the rapid diversification of a songibird lineage in the genus Junco. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 2007, 274, 2653–2660. PDF
2007
Milá, B.; Smith, T. B.; Wayne, R. K. Speciation and rapid phenotypic differentiation in the yellow-rumped warbler (Dendroica coronata) complex. Molecular Ecology 2007, 16, 159–173. PDF
2006
Milá, B.; Smith, T. B.; Wayne, R. K. Postglacial population expansion drives the evolution of long-distance migration in a songbird. Evolution 2006, 60, 2403–2409. PDF
2006
Ruegg, K.; Slabbekorn, H.; Clegg, S.; Smith, T. B. Divergence in mating signals correlates with ecological variation in the migratory songbird, Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus). Molecular Ecology 2006, 15, 1487–1494.
2005
Kelly, J.; Ruegg, k.; Smith, T. B. Combining isotopic and genetic markers to identify breeding origins of migrant birds. Ecological Applications 2005, 15, 1487–1494; DOI 10.1890/04-1325. PDF
2005
Smith, T. B.; Clegg, S. M.; Kimura, M.; Ruegg, K.; Milá, B.; Lovette, I. Molecular genetic approaches to linking breeding and overwintering areas in five neotropical migrant passerines. In Birds of Two Worlds: The Ecology and Evolution of Migration; Greenberg, R. ., Marra, P. P., Eds.; The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, MD, 2005; pp 223–231.
2004
Lovette, I. J.; Clegg, S. M.; Smith, T. B. Limited utility of mtDNA markers for determining connectivity among breeding and overwintering locations in three neotropical migrant birds. Conservation Biology 2004, 18, 302–308. PDF
2003
Hobson, K. A.; Wassenaar, L. I.; Milá, B.; Lovette, I.; Dingle, C.; Smith, T. B. Stable isotopes as indicators of altitudinal distributions and movements in an Ecuadorean hummingbird community. Oecologia 2003, 136, 302–308. PDF
2003
Clegg, S. M.; Kelley, J. F.; Kimura, M.; Smith, T. B. Combining genetic markers and stable isotopes to reveal population connectivity and migration patterns in a Neotropical migrant, Wilson's warbler (Wilsonia pusilla). Molecular Ecology 2003, 12 (4), 819–830; DOI 10.1046/j.1365-294X.2003.01757.x. PDF
2003
Smith, T. B.; Marra, P. P.; Webster, M. S.; Lovette, I.; Gibbs, L.; Holmes, R. T.; Rohwer, S. A call for feather sampling. The Auk 2003, 120, 218–221. PDF
2002
Kimura, M.; Clegg, S. M.; Lovette, I. J.; Holder, K. R.; Girman, D. J.; Milá, B.; Wade, P.; Smith, T. B. Phylogeographic approaches to assessing demographic connectivity between breeding and overwintering regions in a Nearctic-Neotropical warbler (Wilsonia pusilla). Molecular Ecology 2002, 11. PDF
2002
Ruegg, K.; Smith, T. B. Not as the crow flies: a historical explanation for circuitous migration in Swainson's thrush (Catharus ustulatus). Proceedings of the Royal Society, London 2002, 269, 1375–1381. PDF
2000
Milá, B.; Girman, D.; Kimura, M.; Smith, T. B. Evidence for Pleistocene effects on the phylogeography of MacGillivary's warbler. Proceedings of the Royal Society 2000, 267, 1033–1040.

CTR Bird

Center for Tropical Research | UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability
La Kretz Hall, Suite 300 | 619 Charles E. Young Dr. East | Los Angeles, CA 90095-1496

The Center for Tropical Research, located on the third floor of La Kretz Hall, is part of the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. For general inquiries, contact Christa Gomez, CTR Office Manager, at (310) 206-6234, or by email at cgomez@lifesci.ucla.edu. Visitors are always welcome.

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