Posted by: PMGDD | December 7, 2022

Nature Miramichi January 3rd 2023 Meeting

Nature Miramichi guest speaker for the Tuesday January 3rd 2023 Meeting.

How colonial history has changed breeding patterns of the Acadian Nelson’s Sparrow

Presented by Kiirsti Owen, PhD student at the University of New Brunswick (with Joe Nocera) and Acadia University (with Mark Mallory)

The Acadian Nelson’s Sparrow (Ammospiza nelson subvirgata) breeds in saltmarshes from northern Massachusetts to New Brunswick and eastern Quebec. In Atlantic Canada, these birds also successfully breed in dyked agricultural lands (“dykelands”) originally created by Acadian settlers in the 1600s. Little is known about how or why these secretive birds use dykelands. Kiirsti will be discussing how she is attempting to fill this knowledge gap. In 2021 and 2022, Kiirsti attached radio tags to 76 adult Nelson’s Sparrows in southeastern NB. Kiirsti and her team tracked birds’ movements using handheld radio telemetry in saltmarsh and dykeland habitats from June to August in both years. From these data, she is looking at home range sizes and distribution in the natural vs. human-made habitats. With rising sea levels and ongoing habitat alteration, it is important to understand how populations use natural and human-made habitats to carry out important life stages. Future research will focus on discovering why some Nelson’s Sparrows choose to use mainly dykeland habitats during the breeding season. Kiirsti will also present on some of the interesting observations that her team witnessed while tracking Nelson’s Sparrows, and some of the basic natural history questions that scientists can answer using radio telemetry.

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