Tree Swallow Migration and Population Ecology


A Hussell insect collector

Hussell insect collector: working hard since 1977 (Dayna LeClair)

We have been using Tree swallows to study a number of aspects related to behaviour and population dynamics of migratory birds. In 2009, the Norris lab inherited three long-term marked populations of Tree swallows located in the area around Long Point, Ontario. These populations were started by David Hussell in the 1970’s and the long-term data that continue to be collected include not only reproductive performance and survival of marked individuals but also daily estimates of insect abundance over the entire breeding season. We are currently using this long-term dataset to examine plasticity in the timing of breeding in relation to annual variation in temperature and food. The Norris lab is also leading a collaborative effort among Tree swallow researchers across North America to examine range-wide migration patterns using light-logging geolocators and then integrating this information into migratory network models to predict how birds, like the Tree swallow, will respond to environmental change. In the past, we have used Tree swallows to examine the causes and consequences of variation in personality and to examine the physiological and environmental factors influencing stable isotope signatures in bird tissue.

Selected Publications

Fairhurst, G, Berzins, LL, Bradley, DW*, Romano, A, Romano, M, Ambrosini, R, Dawson, RD, Dunn, PO, Hobson, KA, Liechti, F, Marchant, TA, Norris, DR, Rubolini, D, Saino, N, Shutler, D, Whittingham, LA & Clark RG. 2015. Assessing costs of carrying geolocators using feather corticosterone in two species of aerial insectivore. In press: Royal Society Open Science

Bradley DW, Clark RG, Dunn, PO, Laughlin, AJ, Taylor, CM, Vleck, C, Whittingham, L & Norris, DR. 2014. Trans-Gulf of Mexico loop migration of Tree swallows revealed by solar geolocation. In press: Current Zoology

Gomez, J, Michelson, CI, Bradley, DW, Norris, DR, Berzins, L, Dawson, RD, Clark, RG. 2013. Effects of geolocators on reproductive performance and annual return rates of a migratory songbird. Journal of Ornithology 155: 37-44.

Laughlin, A, Taylor, CM, Bradley, DW, LeClair, D, Whittingham, L, Dunn, PO, Horn, A, Leonard, M, Shutler, D, Dawson, R, Clark, RG, Sheldon, DR, Winkler, DW, & Norris, DR. 2013. Integrating information from geolocators, weather radar and citizen science data to confirm a key stopover area during fall migration for an aerial insectivore. The Auk 150: 230-239.

Shutler, D, Hussell, DJT, Norris, DR, Winkler, DW, Robertson, RJ, Bonier, F, Rendell, W, Belisle, M, Clark, RG, Dawson, RD, Wheelwright, NT, Lombardo, MP, Truan, MA, Leonard, ML, Horn, AG, Vleck, CM, Vleck, D, Whittingham, LA, Dunn, PO, Hobson, KA, Stanback, MT, Rose, AP. 2012. Spatiotemporal patterns in nest box occupancy by Tree swallows across North America. Avian Conservation & Ecology 7(1): 3.

Betini, GS & Norris, DR. 2012. The relationship between personality and plasticity in Tree swallow aggression and the consequences for reproductive success. Animal Behaviour 83: 137-143.

Betini, GS, Hobson, KA, Wassenaar, LI & Norris, DR. 2009. Stable-hydrogen isotope values in songbird nestlings: effects of temperature, body size, and diet. Canadian Journal of Zoology 87: 767-772.

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