We arrived in force at the 24th annual meeting of The Wildlife Society in Albuquerque, NM in September. All in all, 9 members of the lab presented talks! These included an encore performance from former post-doc Abby Darrah discussing structured decision making for exclosure use to manage piping plovers, and a farewell performance from the recently graduated Michelle Peach who spoke about characteristics of forest bird species that affect the relationship between Breeding Bird Atlas block occupancy and protected lands. In their concurrent sessions, Michelle and Alison Kocek kicked off the conference with their opening talks, with Alison discussing the effects of nest fate on habitat selection by saltmarsh obligate sparrows. Also on opening day, Maureen Durkin described concerning results of her population projection models for snowy plovers in Florida and the role of road mortality at Gulf Islands National Seashore. On the second day of the conference, Adam Bleau presented a poster on interactions between wintering mallards and American black ducks in the Finger Lakes. In a stunning development, with the encouragement of his co-advisor Dr. Michael Schummer, Adam agreed to turn his poster into a presentation to take the place of a cancelled talk during the next day's waterfowl session. He managed to head to the Rio Grande to pick up his life roadrunner early the next morning and still do an excellent job with his talk explaining the strong positive influence of mallards on the distribution of black ducks and the negative influence of human development. Justin Droke then presented the sequel, with his results demonstrating differential habitat use by mallards and black ducks in the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge during spring staging. On the final day of the conference, Samantha Mello spoke about parasites of the imperiled New England cottontail, which she showed hosted potentially detrimental levels of ticks as well as protozoan endoparasites sometimes associated with pathological effects in rabbits. Amanda Cheeseman gave her first talk as a post-doc, describing dispersal and exploratory movement rates of New England cottontails and their non-native competitor the eastern cottontail in New York, with her results implying that colonization of new patches is unlikely. Michelle Stantial gave the lab's final talk of the conference, with an occupancy model that showed foxes in piping plover habitat tend to stick to dune areas, providing some important insights for habitat restoration to reduce predation risk. Congrats to all my lab, I could not be more proud of the job you do at events like this and throughout your programs!
Members of the lab and recent alums present their research at The Wildlife Society's 24th Annual Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. From top to bottom and left to right, the presenters are: Michelle Peach, Alison Kocek, Abby Darrah, Maureen Durkin, Adam Bleau, Justin Droke, Samantha Mello, Amanda Cheeseman and Michelle Stantial. Bottom Right: The lab goes bird (and rabbit) watching at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.