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Jeffrey A. Spendelow

USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
12100 Beech Forest Road
Laurel, MD 20708-4030

Photo of Jeffrey A. Spendelow

Telephone: 301-497-5665

Fax: 301-497-5545


Research Wildlife Biologist

Primary Responsibilities: 
Duties include planning and carrying out fieldwork on the population dynamics and ecology of coastal birds, assessing the impacts of management activities on these birds and their habitats, and assisting population modelers in the development of new multistage models to estimate various population parameters. Current projects involve:

-Coordinating a multifaceted international study with several co-investigators and numerous cooperators of the metapopulation dynamics and ecology of endangered N.W. Atlantic Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii). We have used formal capture-recapture models to test various hypotheses about geographic and temporal variation in adult and postfledging-to-first-breeding survival, recruitment, age-specific breeding; and also natal- site fidelity and dispersal, and adult colony-site fidelity/intercolony movement rates. We currently are expanding our research to several projects being done at staging sites to look at early postfledging survival of Hatch Year birds and age-related return north of young adults prior to their recruitment into the breeding population. Our research has demonstrated (1) that a lack of suitable nesting habitat and adult mortality are not the major factors limiting population recovery, and (2) that the apparent stability in breeding population size at many of the smaller colony sites is due to a net immigration of new recruits from the largest and most productive (source) colony sites rather than being due to the smaller sites being self-sustaining. We also have demonstrated a substantial inequality in the sex ratio of breeding adults, and are currently determining what consequences this unequal sex ratio is having on population recovery and viability.

-Providing technical assistance and scientific expertise to the USFWS (e.g., Division of Refuges, Roseate Tern Recovery Teams); Canadian Wildlife Service; U.S. National Park Service (Cape Cod National Seashore); BOEM; other federal, state, and local wildlife and natural resource agencies; several NGOs (e.g., Ornithological Council, Massachusetts Audubon Coastal Waterbird Program); and to graduate and undergraduate students.

Education/Training:  B.S., Yale University, 1972;
Biology Ph.D., Yale University, 1980; Biology/Ornithology

Areas of Expertise/Interest: Long-term avian population dynamics and ecology of terns.

American Ornithologists' Union Elective Member (1992-present) and Fellow (2008-present); Northeastern Roseate Tern Recovery Team member (1993-present) and Technical Advisory Group Chair (1987-present); Colonial Waterbird Society International Roseate Tern Symposium Co-chair (1993); Patuxent Wildlife Research Center Scientific Achievement Award (1995)

Active Projects: 
Determination, biological consequences, and modeling of sex-specific demographic rates in declining, threatened, or endangered metapopulations

Selected Publications/Products: 

Watson, M. J., J. A. Spendelow, and J. J. Hatch. 2012. Post-fledging brood and care division in the Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii). Journal of Ethology 30(1):29-34. Abstract

Palestis, B. G., I. C. T. Nisbet, J. J. Hatch, P. Szczys, and J. A. Spendelow. 2012. Morphometric sexing of Northwest Atlantic Roseate Terns. Waterbirds 35(3):479-484. Abstract

Spendelow, J. A., C. S. Mostello, I. C. T. Nisbet, C. S. Hall, and L. Welch. 2010. Interregional breeding dispersal of adult Roseate Terns. Waterbirds 33(2):242-245. Abstract

Lebreton, J.-D., J. D. Nichols, R. J. Barker, R. Pradel, and J. A. Spendelow. 2009. Modeling individual animal histories with multistate capture-recapture models. Advances in Ecological Research 41:87-173. Abstract

Spendelow, J. A., J. E. Hines, J. D. Nichols, I. C. T. Nisbet, G. Cormons, H. Hays, J. J. Hatch, and C. S. Mostello. 2008. Temporal variation in adult survival rates of Roseate Terns during periods of increasing and declining populations. Waterbirds 31(3):309-319. Abstract

Monticelli, D., J. A. Ramos, J. E. Hines, J. D. Nichols, and J. A. Spendelow. 2008. Juvenile survival in a tropical population of Roseate Terns: Interannual variation and effect of tick parasitism. Marine Ecology Progress Series 365:277-287. Abstract

Rogers, C. J. and J. A. Spendelow. 2007. Response of Roseate Tern to a shoreline protection project on Falkner Island, Connecticut. Pages 59-60 in Michael P. Guilfoyle, Richard A. Fischer, David N. Pashley, and Casey A. Lott, editors. Summary of Second Regional Workshop on Dredging, Beach Nourishment, and Birds on the North Atlantic Coast. ERDC/EL TR-07-26. U.S. Army Engineer Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Dredging Operations and Environmental Research Program, Washington, DC. vii, 78 pp. whole report ; Rogers' PowerPoint ; all PowerPoints

Spendelow, J. A., D. A. Shealer, J. S. Hatfield, J. D. Nichols, and I. C. T. Nisbet. 2005. Sex-specific survival rates of adult Roseate Terns: are males paying a higher reproductive cost than females? Wilson Ornithological Society and Association of Field Ornithologists Joint Meeting, April 21-24, Beltsville, Maryland. Abstract P38. Abstract

Shealer, D. A., J. A. Spendelow, J. S. Hatfield, and I. C. T. Nisbet. 2005. The adaptive significance of stealing in a marine bird and its relationship to parental quality. Behavioral Ecology 16(2):371-376. Abstract

Nichols, J. D., W. L. Kendall, J. E. Hines, and J. A. Spendelow. 2004. Estimation of sex-specific survival from capture-recapture data when sex is not always known. Ecology 85(12):3192-3201. Abstract

Lebreton, J. D., J. E. Hines, R. Pradel, J. D. Nichols, and J. A. Spendelow. 2003. Estimation by capture-recapture of recruitment and dispersal over several sites. Oikos 101(2):253-264. Abstract at Wiley ; Abstract at JSTOR

Spendelow, J. A., J. D. Nichols, J. E. Hines, J.-D. Lebreton, and R. Pradel. 2002. Modelling postfledging survival and age-specific breeding probabilities in species with delayed maturity: a case study of Roseate Terns at Falkner Island, Connecticut. Pages 385-405 in Byron J. T. Morgan and David L. Thomson, guest editors. Statistical analysis of data from marked bird populations. Journal of Applied Statistics 29(1-4).669 pp. Abstract

Nisbet, I. C. T. and J. A. Spendelow. 1999. Contribution of research to management and recovery of the Roseate Tern: review of a twelve-year project. Waterbirds 22(2):239-252. Abstract

Nisbet, I. C. T., J. S. Hatfield, W. A. Link, and J. A. Spendelow. 1999. Predicting chick survival and productivity of Roseate Terns from data on early growth. Waterbirds 22(1):90-97. Abstract

Spendelow, J. A., J. D. Nichols, I. C. T. Nisbet, H. Hays, G. D. Cormons, J. Burger, C. Safina, J. E. Hines, and M. Gochfeld. 1995. Estimating annual survival and movement rates of adults within a metapopulation of Roseate Terns. Ecology 76(8):2415-2428. Abstract

Spendelow, J. A., R. M. Erwin, and B. K. Williams. 1989. Patterns of species co-occurrence of nesting colonial Ciconiiformes in Atlantic coast estuarine areas. Colonial Waterbirds 12(1):51-59. Abstract

Spendelow, J. A. and S. R. Patton. 1988. National atlas of coastal waterbird colonies in the contiguous United States, 1976-82. Biological Report 88 (5). U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Wetlands Research Center, Washington, DC. ix, 326 pp. read online

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