University of Cincinnati
Purpose: To quantify the behavior and genetic consequences of species replacement in a dynamic zone of secondary contact.
Overview: I seek to understand the behavioral and genetic consequences of Blue-winged Warbler encroachment into historically allopatric populations of Golden-winged Warblers. For 22 years, my colleagues and I have studied Golden-winged Warbler populations in the coalfields of southern West Virginia, where the predominate Golden-winged Warbler habitat is contour mine benches along dense, oak-hickory-maple mature forest. These old contour mine benches were originally mined in the 1960s and 1970s and most are now too overgrown to support Golden-winged populations, and have experienced expanded Blue-winged Warblers since the late 1980s. I look at the behavioral interactions between Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers and nesting success and patterns of habitat-segregation. Current management practices include industry land use (timbering, gas wells and pipelines, and mining), and selective thinning in an attempt to bring back Golden-winged Warblers were they have disappeared. Further, I seek to understand which land use practices favor Golden-winged Warblers in the presence of expanding Blue-winged Warblers.