Matthew Fuirst

PhD Student (2018-present)

Natal dispersal is a vital life history trait that plays a major role in population dynamics and individual fitness. Among Canada (gray) jays, a resident, food-caching corvid, the movements and drivers of juvenile dispersal is entirely unknown. Within Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada jays have declined by over 50% in the past 20 years and the “food-rot” hypothesis has been suggested as a main cause. However, an alternative hypothesis to the cause of their decline is a lack of juvenile recruitment and high mortality during dispersal. For my PhD, I will be investigating the mechanisms behind juvenile dispersal using radio telemetry and demographic data of Canada jays. Primarily I will be assessing if non-random natal dispersal in Canada jays is driving range contraction through preferential movements towards more viable habitats for caching and breeding.

I completed my B.Sc. in fisheries and wildlife sciences at Paul Smith’s College located in upstate New York (2015). During my M.Sc. in marine science at Stony Brook University (2018), I studied the foraging ecology of herring gulls and how their movements can affect their microbiome and potential for heavy metal (Hg) contamination.


Sherer, D.L.& Fuirst, M. 2017. First Documentation of a Swallow-Tailed Kite (Elanoides forficatus) Preying on an Infant Squirrel. Florida Field Naturalist 40: 24-25.

Ballance, L.T., Ainley D.G., G.L. Hunt J., & Fuirst, M. 2018. Seabird Foraging Ecology. Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, Vol. 5. , London: Academic Press – In press

Fuirst, M. 2018. Gulls. Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences, Vol. 5. , London: Academic Press – In press

Fuirst, M., Hahn, M., Dheilly, N., Veit, R.R., & Thorne, L.H. Effects of urbanization on the foraging ecology and microbiota of a generalist seabird. PLoS One. – In Review

In preparation:
Fuirst, M., Greer, J., & Bowman, R. Optimizing your investment: Evidence for cache site selection learning in young Florida Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma coerulescens). Journal of Field Ornithology

Garafalo, J.R., Fuirst, M., & Veit, R.R. Changes in spring maxima of red knot in New York state. Wilson Journal of Ornithology

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