Jonathan Chu

PhD Student (2022-present)

In areas of dense human development, novel urban ecosystems have emerged and contain ecosystem dynamics unique from natural systems. Increased presence of invasive predators such as the domestic cat (Felis catus), put extensive pressure on native wildlife. Understanding the dynamics of native species and invasive species in urban ecosystems is of ecological importance, but as many of these invasive species are important companion organisms to humans, the issue is increasingly becoming interdisciplinary and in the public eye.

For my PhD I hope to add to the work currently being done in the lab that monitors outdoor cat movements and their interactions with wildlife using cameras. I want to investigate the finer information these data can provide such as what hunting strategies cats employ, what habitat type is preferred for hunting, and what are the most vulnerable species? I also hope to streamline the intake of important ecological data from videos, by exploring AI and machine-learning approaches. Additionally I want to incorporate my past research and look at how the movement of native organisms, in particular birds, are affected by the presence of invasive species like cats.

I attended the University of Toronto for both my BSc. and MSc. During my undergrad I studied avian migration and whether flight efficiency influences changing arrival dates. As I have a keen interest in urban ecology and recreational birdwatching this project also explored the use of community science data to estimate arrival date. For my MSc. I studied the role of flight efficiency on natal dispersal distances in North American birds. I used museum specimen data to estimate proxies for flight efficiency and banding data to estimate natal dispersal distances, again showing my affinity for big datasets.


Chu, J. J., Claramunt, S. (2022). “Determinants of natal dispersal distances in North American birds”. Ecology and Evolution. In revision.

Chu, J. J., Gillis, D. P., & Riskin, S. H. (2022). Community science reveals links between migration arrival timing advance, migration distance and wing shape. Journal of Animal Ecology, 00, 1– 15.

Weeks, B. C., O’Brien, B. K., Chu, J. J., Claramunt, S., Sheard, C., & Tobias, J. A. (2022). Morphological adaptations linked to flight efficiency and aerial lifestyle determine natal dispersal distance in birds. Functional Ecology, 36, 1681– 1689.

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