Kyle Parkinson

PhD Student (2021-present)

Highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) are a class of essential nutrients that are required for proper organ and cognitive development in offspring. The ability for terrestrial vertebrates to secure HUFA is constrained by their lack of ability to synthesize HUFA de novo. Therefore, many organisms time their breeding season to match the emergence of lower-trophic prey, such as aquatic insects, that can produce HUFA de novo. However, for species like the Canada jay, which nest during the late-winter, when food is scarce and there are no fresh sources of HUFA, it is unknown what strategy is used to secure these essential nutrients. My research will use compound-specific stable isotope analysis of Canada jay nestlings’ plasma and feather samples to investigate if nestlings development is nutrient limited, the sources of HUFA fed to nestlings, and how the level of HUFA in jays’ food is impacted by environmental conditions.

I completed my B.Sc. of Science in Environment and Natural Resources at the University of New Brunswick in 2015. For my M.Sc. in Integrative Biology at the University of Windsor, I studied Arctic-nesting common eiders and used stable isotopes to investigate their resiliency to climate change.


Parkinson. K.J.L., Hennin, H.L., Gilchrist, H.G., Hobson, K.A., Hussey, N.E., Love, O.P. 2022. Breeding stage and tissue isotopic (δ13C, δ15N) consistency suggests colony-level flexibility in niche breadth of an Arctic marine bird. In press: Oecologia.

Smith, R., Yurkowski, D., Parkinson, K.J.L., Fort, J., Hennin, H.L., Gilchrist, H.G., Hobson, K.A., Mallory, M.L., Danielsen, J., Garbus, S.E., Hanssen, S.A., Jónsson, J.E., Latty, C.J., Magnúsdóttir, E., Moe, B., Parsons, G.J., Sonne, C., Tertitski, G., Love, O.P. 2021. Environmental and life-history factors influence inter-colony multidimensional niche metrics of a breeding Arctic marine bird. Science of Total Environment, 796.

Smith, R., Albonaimi, S.S., Hennin, H.L., Gilchrist, H.G., Fort, J., Parkinson, K.J.L., Provencher, J.F., Love, O.P. 2021. Exposure to cumulative stressors affects laying phenology and incubation behaviour of an Arctic-breeding marine bird. Science of the Total Environment, 807.

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