Contact: Wendel Sloan at 505.562.2253
Reporter: Marc Schoder
PORTALES—Eastern New Mexico University'sDr. Greg Keller, assistant professor of biology, has received aninternal grant from ENMU to study the long-term population decline ofsongbirds in North America.
Thestudy, which focuses on Nearctic-Neotropical songbirds, shows declineshave been associated with habitat fragmentation in both the breedingand wintering grounds, but little work has been done during themigratory period. Exploring foraging behavior of migrants could helpconservation biologists quantify overall habitat quality as it affectspopulation declines of migratory songbirds.
"Thisgrant pays for travel to the locations around eastern New Mexico, aswell as three field assistants who are ENMU students," said Keller.
Keller's day starts as early as 4:30 in the morning to begin his observation work when first light hits at 6:30 a.m.
"Iget to spend many fall mornings watching tropical birds pass througheastern New Mexico on their trip to South America," said Keller. Hesaid that he and the three student field assistants conduct pointcounts in wooded habitats in eastern New Mexico for several migrantspecies of warblers (MacGillivray's, Wilson's, Townsend's,yellow-rumped, orange-crowned, and yellow) during spring and fallmigration within three habitat types: (1) natural cottonwood and elmpatches; (2) invasive salt cedar patches; and (3) residential woodedhabitats dominated by cottonwoods and elms.
Keller'sgoals are to determine relative abundance of the five species andperform observations on their foraging behaviors to determinedifferences among habitat types. Information from this study will bevaluable to elucidate differences among species and habitats duringmigration to help in overall conservation of songbirds.