Thomas W. Sherry
Bird Population Ecology, Conservation Biology
4024 Percival Stern Hall
E-mail Dr. Sherry
My lab studies the population ecology, conservation, and evolution
of birds, especially birds that migrate long distances between tropical
and temperate ecosystems (the so-called Neotropical-Nearctic migrants).
We are interested in factors that control or limit their populations
(especially food resources and predators), including human influences
on habitats and landscapes in North America and the Neotropics
(Caribbean, especially Jamaica). We use a combination of statistical,
experimental, and modeling methods to test hypotheses about
populations. For example, recent students have looked at the question
of whether food sets a winter carrying capacity, i.e., limits these
birds' populations at least in part in that season.
Several of my students have looked at the impact of human habitat
conversion on these birds by comparing their ecology in natural
habitats (e.g., Caribbean dry forest, montane forest, mangroves) versus
altered ones (e.g., citrus groves, shade coffee, suburban and rural
residential areas). For example, our research shows that many migrants
find shade coffee plantations to be an excellent winter habitat in
terms of food abundance, bird abundance, suitability of the habitat
throughout the dry season, and persistence throughout the winter. We
are looking intensively at the available food resources for birds in
shade coffee, the similarity in diets among species, and the
consumption of coffee insect pest species by birds, among other topics.
Research continues on the year-round ecology of the American
redstart (Setophaga ruticilla),
a Neotropical-Nearctic migrant. Diverse studies have been conducted in
the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, NH, and in Jamaica; we are
planning studies on breeding populations in Louisiana. A goal of this
effort is to integrate year-round ecology of this species as a model
Several students have been
looking at the ecology and conservation
of migrant species that are either endangered or threatened (e.g.,
swallow-tailed kite, Swainson's warbler) in Louisiana, Jamaica, and
elsewhere. Some of this work is being done in fragmented versus
unfragmented bottomland hardwoods habitats of Louisiana. One student is
looking at spider communities in these human-disturbed bottomland
hardwoods fragments in LA.
Several studies have been conducted on colonial wading birds (e.g.,
herons, ibises, egrets) in Louisiana, including the impacts of crawfish
aquaculture and heavy metal contamination on their populations
My lab continues to look at prey selection and ecology of tropical
birds. For example we have compared prey types and sizes eaten by
redstarts in Jamaica, LA (birds migrating through), and New Hampshire;
and we have been comparing prey eaten versus available to look at how
animals select food and how they specialize dietarily, using both
ecological and evolutionary approaches.
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Processes of Evolution
Writing Seminar: Cooperation, Confrontation, & Environmental
- In progress. Woltmann, Stefan. 2007. Ph.d. Candidate
- In progress.
Brown, David. 2005 Ph.D. candidate. Ovenbird migration
- In progress. Sigel, Bryan. 2005. Ph.D. candidate.
Mixed species flocks and habitat fragmentation.
- In progress. Roome, Donata. 2004: Habitat Selection and
Conservation of Swainson's Warbler. Ph.D. candidate
- In progress. Coulson, Jennifer. 2004: Conservation Ecology of
Swallow-tailed Kites. Ph.D. candidate
- In progress. Valderrama-A., Carlos. 2003: Spiders as Indicators
of Sub- tropical Forest Fragmentation in Bottomland Hardwoods
Ecosystems, Louisiana. Ph.D. candidate
- Tanner, Shannon, 2003. Habitat Selection by Swainson's Warbler in
Commercial Pine Plantations, LA. Seniors Honors Thesis.
- Leumas, Cecelia, 2003. Habitat Use Patterns and changes in
Abundance of 22 Insectivorous Neotropical Birds at a Lowland Rainforest
Site in Costa Rica. Senior Honors Thesis.
- Douglas, Leo. 2002: Effects of human habitat disturbance on
resident and migrant bird communities, Caribbean tropical dry forest
Life Zone, Jamaica. Co-supervised by Dr. Peter Vogel, Univ. of the West
Indies, Jamaica. Masters Thesis.
- Kaban, Jordana. 2000. Food resources used by three
Neotropical migrant warblers wintering in a Jamaican shade coffee
plantation. Senior Honors Thesis
- Matthew D. Johnson. 1999. Habitat Relationships of Migratory
Birds Wintering in Jamaica, West Indies. Ph.D.
- Allan M. Strong. 1999. Effects of Food Abundance on Non-Breeding
Habitat Quality for Two Species of Ground-Foraging Neotropical Migrant
- Amanda Medori. 1998. Seasonal and habitat changes in the diet of
a neotropical migrant warbler, with special emphasis on the
conservation value of shade coffee plantations. Senior Undergraduate
- Sally Spahn. 1997. Colonial Wading Birds as Bioindicators of Food
Chain Contamination by Heavy Metals and Organohalogens: Relationships
among Tissue Concentrations, Growth Rates, and Reproduction. Ph.D.
- Bruce E. Fleury. 1996. Population Trends of Colonial Wading Bird
Populations in the Southern United States: Food Limitation and the
Response of Louisiana Populations to Crayfish Aquaculture. Ph.D.
- Jeffrey T. Arp. 1996. Ecological Factors Influencing Habitat
Selection by Foliage-Gleaning Birds along a Vegetation Gradient in a
Northern Hardwoods Forest Ecosystem. M.S. thesis
- Lydia Bazzano. 1996. Calcium Limitation to Northern Hardwood Tree
Species in Relation to Bedrock Geology. Senior Undergraduate Honors
- Martina Keefe. 1996. Acid Precipitationâ€™s Effects on
of the Adirondack Mountains, New York. Senior Undergraduate Honors
- Mario Cohn-Haft. 1995. Dietary Specialization by Lowland Tropical
Rainforest Birds: Forest Interior Vs. Canopy and Edge Habitats. M.S.
- Robert T. Adelson. 1995. The Functional Morphology of Diplocaulis
(Permian Amphibian). Senior Undergraduate Honors Thesis
- James P. Crews. 1993. Nest Site Selection in American Redstarts:
Importance of Nest Predators. Senior undergraduate research
- Jeffrey D. Parrish. 1991. Sexual Habitat Segregation in American
Redstarts (Setophaga ruticilla) Wintering in Jamaica, West
Indies. Senior Undergraduate Honors Thesis
- Stephen P. Sloan. 1991. Nest Predation in a Northern Hardwoods
Forest As a Function of Season, Stratum, and Habitat: Experiments with
Artificial Nests. Senior undergraduate thesis at Dartmouth College
(R.T. Holmes supervisor), but unofficially initiated, funded, and
edited in part by T. Sherry)
- Alex Sliwa. 1991. Age-, and Sex-Specific Habitat and Geographic
Segregation Patterns of two New World Wood Warblers (Parulinae)
Wintering in Jamaica. (M.S. thesis, Berlin Free University, Germany;
thesis planned, funded, supervised, and thesis edited in English by T.
Institute (NEI) - Tom Sherry, Director
- What: Multidisciplinary organization of faculty and
students, affiliated with Roger Thayer Stone Center for Latin American
- Mission: Support and disseminate interdisciplinary
research and promote education on critical environmental topics in
tropical Latin America
- Accomplishments: Seminars, international symposia, field
studies, academic courses (e.g., Yucatan Colloquium), scholarship,
post-doctoral research, publications
- Recent Symposia: The Status of Biosphere Reserves in
the Yucatan Peninsula (1998), Poverty, Disasters, and
Environment in Latin America (1999)
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