USGS - science for a changing world

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center




Zelt, J., Deleon, R.L., Arab, A., Droege, S., Laurent, K., and Snodgrass, J. In prep. Trends Over the Past 130 Years in Avian Migrant Arrival and Departure Dates Across the State of New York.

Arab, A., and Courter, J. Spatio-Temporal Trend Analysis of Spring Arrival Data for Migratory Birds, Communications in Statistics. Simulations and Computation. 2013.

Courter, J.R., Johnson, R., Bridges, W., and Hubbard, K., Assessing migration of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) at Broad Spatial and Temporal Scales. The Auk. 2013.

Courter, J., Johnson, R., Stuyck, C., Lang, B., Kaiser, E., 2012. Weekend Bias in Citizen Science Data Reporting: Implications for Phenology Studies. International Journal of Biometeorology. 2012.

Zelt, J., Courter, J., Arab, A., Johnson, R., and Droege, S. Reviving a Legacy Citizen Science Project to Illuminate Shifts in Bird Phenology. International Journal of Zoology, Volume 2012, Article ID 710710.

Droege, S. Spring Arrivals of Maryland and Washington, D.C. Birds. Maryland Birdlife. Volume. 59, No. 1-2. 2003.

Research Projects:

Dr. Donald McCrimmon, Le Moyne College

Dr. Donald McCrimmon, McDevitt Research Associate at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, is directing undergraduate students Dan Bolster and Anna Valentine in investigations of changes in the timing of spring migration during the 20th and early 21st Centuries. Their analyses of records compiled by the Cayuga Bird Club in New York (dating to 1903) and the Forbush Bird Club in Massachusetts (dating to 1932) show that 69 species have demonstrated statistically significant earlier yearly first observation dates in both regions, suggesting possible relationships to changes in temperatures over time. While they probe that linkage using data provided by the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University, they are also very interested in extending the migration observations further back in time and will use BPP data for that purpose. They also hope to track down additional long-term data sets for similar investigations of other regions and states.

Bob Aeppli, Field Biologist, Purple Martin Conservation Association.

 Bob Aeppli is currently a Field Biologist for the PMCA and has been with them since 2009. He received a B.S. from Penn State in Biology/Ecology and is currently working an M.S. in Environmental Health and Engineering. Bob's work with Purple Martin migration using Geolocators and GPS units has lead him to want to understand how things are effecting their migration. As he has progressed through his masters program his understanding and concern of the changing environment has grown. With current long term declines in Martin populations, mainly in the Northern parts of their range it has been thought that climate change may at least partially be to blame. Seeing how much these changes in climate are affecting the populations with help those at the PMCA to better advise and further conserve this species that is so dependent on man to survive. The project using BPP records will investigate the changes in Spring arrival times and then see how they correlate with fluctuating long term weather patterns as well as specific weather events. Data such as changes in temperature (Max high and low temp, avg. temp....), as well as precipitation data.

Ali Arab, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, Georgetown University.

 Ali Arab’s research goal is to study spatial and temporal trends in the migration patterns of birds based on the historical records at NABPP. In particular, he is interested in correlating these spatial and temporal trends with climate indices and other environmental variables (such as severe climate events) to provide a more detailed analysis of the potential impacts of climate change on bird migration patterns over the past century for which data is available. Dr. Arab is currently working on the New York bird migration paper with the NABPP as well as on an upcoming paper with Jessica Zelt on bias in citizen science data.

Jason R. Courter, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Biology, Malone University.

 Jason Courter’s area of interest is using novel temperature approaches to monitor climate change and optimize bird conservation. In 2011, Dr. Courter gave a PowerPoint presentation at the Ecological Society of America Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas, on Assessing effects of climate change on bird phenology at broad temporal and spatial scales. In 2012, Dr. Courter published his first paper using data from the NABPP on weekend bias. In 2013, he published two additional papers using NABPP data on spring arrivals for several migratory species and Ruby-throated hummingbird migration.

Steven Hilburger, USGS Biologist.

 Master’s thesis, George Mason University. “Spring Migration Phenology of Four North American Insectivorous Bird Species in Relation to Climate Change.” The thesis describes the relationship between spring migration of four bird species, and eight environmental variables that could influence migration.

John Sauer, USGS Research Wildlife Biologist.

 Together with Agathe Dupontiel, former BPP Intern, John Sauer completed statistical analysis of Barn Swallows using data from BPP migration records to explore its quality and characteristics. Analysis was then done using more specific information such as the cycle of arrival dates over time, the association of spring temperatures and the NAOI and SOI indexes. All data on Barn Swallow used for analysis were documented from 1895 to 1968.


 The purpose for our internships is to help gain work experience while at the same time receiving guidance in a scientific study. Students are selected from the Eleanor Roosevelt High School where a study is required by all students graduating with the Science and Technology Department.

Kamli Sirjue

 2012 Science and Technology student, who attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland. She completed an internship with the BPP, looking at the relationship between arrival dates and elevation with several vireo species.

Michaeline Fraser

 2011 Science and Technology student, who attended Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland. She completed an internship with the BPP, looking at the relationship between arrival dates and elevation with several warbler species.

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