Joshua Ackerman

Joshua Ackerman
United States Geological Survey | USGS · Western Ecological Research Center

PhD

About

194
Publications
43,279
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4,312
Citations

Publications

Publications (194)
Article
Full-text available
Conservation of colonial waterbird breeding populations often includes restoring historic nesting habitat or establishing new nesting habitat in protected areas. However, colonization of new or restored nesting habitat may be hindered by the lack of social cues from nesting conspecifics to attract prospecting birds. Social attraction, whereby decoy...
Article
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Feathers are widely used to represent mercury contamination in birds. Yet, few recommendations exist that provide guidance for using bird feathers in mercury monitoring programs. We conducted a literature review and 5 experiments to show that mercury concentrations vary substantially within (vane >100% higher than calamus) and among (>1000%) indivi...
Article
Methylmercury is a neurotoxin and endocrine disruptor and may impair avian reproduction directly through embryotoxicity or by altering parental care behaviors. We studied mercury exposure and incubation behavior of free-living tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) nesting in artificial nest boxes. Using small temperature dataloggers, we measured incu...
Article
Methlymercury is a significant risk to environmental health globally. We examined the ecological drivers of methylmercury bioaccumulation in songbirds and its effect on body condition while experimentally removing the potentially confounding and predominant effects of site and habitat. We measured blood and feather mercury concentrations and body c...
Article
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The wing molt is an important annual life-history event that occurs in waterfowl and molt site selection can play an important role in determining survival. We tracked postbreeding movements of gadwall (Mareca strepera) and mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) females that bred in the Suisun Marsh (Suisun) of California, USA, to determine molt site selecti...
Article
Environmental contamination is widespread and can negatively impact wildlife health. Some contaminants, including heavy metals, have immunosuppressive effects, but prior studies have rarely measured contamination and disease simultaneously, which limits our understanding of how contaminants and pathogens interact to influence wildlife health. Here,...
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Nest predation is the main cause of nest failure for ducks. Understanding how habitat features influence predator movements may facilitate management of upland and wetland breeding habitats that reduces predator encounter rates with duck nests and increases nest survival rates. For 1618 duck nests, nest survival increased with distance to phragmite...
Article
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Avian influenza viruses can pose serious risks to agricultural production, human health, and wildlife. An understanding of viruses in wild reservoir species across time and space is important to informing surveillance programs, risk models, and potential population impacts for vulnerable species. Although it is recognized that influenza A virus pre...
Article
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Mercury contamination is a major threat to the global environment, and is still increasing in some regions despite international regulations. The methylated form of mercury is hazardous to biota, yet its sublethal effects are difficult to detect in wildlife. Body condition can vary in response to stressors, but previous studies have shown mixed eff...
Article
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Zoonotic diseases are of considerable concern to the human population and viruses such as avian influenza (AIV) threaten food security, wildlife conservation and human health. Wild waterfowl and the natural wetlands they use, are known AIV reservoirs, with birds capable of virus transmission to domestic poultry populations. While infection risk mod...
Article
Avian influenza viruses (AIVs) are distributed globally in members of the family Anatidae (waterfowl), and significant disease may occur when these viruses infect commercial poultry or humans. Early detection of AIV through surveillance of wild waterfowl is one measure to prevent future disease outbreaks. Surveillance efforts that are designed to a...
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Long-term environmental management to prevent waterfowl population declines is informed by ecology, movement behavior and habitat use patterns. Extrinsic factors, such as human-induced disturbance, can cause behavioral changes which may influence movement and resource needs, driving variation that affects management efficacy. To better understand t...
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Availability of wetlands with low salinities during the breeding season can influence waterfowl reproductive success and population recruitment. Salinities as low as 2 ppt (3.6 mScm–1) can impair duckling growth and influence behavior, with mortality occurring above 9 ppt (14.8 mScm–1). We used satellite imagery to quantify the amount of available...
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In south San Francisco Bay, former salt ponds now managed as wildlife habitat support large populations of breeding waterbirds. In 2006, the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project began the process of converting 50% to 90% of these managed pond habitats into tidal marsh. We compared American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) and Black-necked Stilt...
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Identifying migration routes and fall stopover sites of Cinnamon Teal (Spatula cyanoptera septentrionalium) can provide a spatial guide to management and conservation efforts, and address vulnerabilities in wetland networks that support migratory waterbirds. Using high spatiotemporal resolution GPS-GSM transmitters, we analyzed 61 fall migration tr...
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Incubating birds must balance the needs of their developing embryos with their own physiological needs, and many birds accomplish this by taking periodic breaks from incubation. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and gadwall (Mareca strepera) hens typically take incubation recesses in the early morning and late afternoon, but recesses can also take place...
Article
Methylmercury concentrations vary widely across geographic space and among habitat types, with marine and aquatic-feeding organisms typically exhibiting higher mercury concentrations than terrestrial-feeding organisms. However, there are few model organisms to directly compare mercury concentrations as a result of foraging in marine, estuarine, or...
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Extensive global estuarine wetland losses have prompted intensive focus on restoration of these habitats. In California, substantial tracts of freshwater, brackish and tidal wetlands have been lost. Given the anthropogenic footprint of development and urbanization in this region, wetland restoration must rely on conversion of existing habitat types...
Article
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Nesting birds must provide a thermal environment sufficient for egg development while also meeting self‐maintenance needs. Many birds, particularly those with uniparental incubation, achieve this balance through periodic incubation recesses, during which foraging and other self‐maintenance activities can occur. However, incubating birds may experie...
Article
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Toxicity of methylmercury (MeHg) to wildlife and humans results from its binding to cysteine residues of proteins, forming MeHg-cysteinate (MeHgCys) complexes that hinder biological functions. MeHgCys complexes can be detoxified in vivo, yet how this occurs is unknown. We report that MeHgCys complexes are transformed into selenocysteinate [Hg(Sec)4...
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The Arctic is entering a new ecological state, with alarming consequences for humanity. Animal-borne sensors offer a window into these changes. Although substantial animal tracking data from the Arctic and subarctic exist, most are difficult to discover and access. Here, we present the new Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA), a growing collection...
Article
Full-text available
The Arctic is entering a new ecological state, with alarming consequences for humanity. Animal-borne sensors offer a window into these changes. Although substantial animal tracking data from the Arctic and subarctic exist, most are difficult to discover and access. Here, we present the new Arctic Animal Movement Archive (AAMA), a growing collection...
Article
Bioaccumulation of environmental contaminants in mammalian predators can serve as an indicator of ecosystem health. We examined mercury concentrations of raccoons (Procyon lotor; n = 37 individuals) and striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis; n = 87 individuals) in Suisun Marsh, California, a large brackish marsh that is characterized by contiguous trac...
Article
In this investigation, we used a combination of field- and laboratory-based approaches to assess if influenza A viruses (IAVs) shed by ducks could remain viable for extended periods in surface water within three wetland complexes of North America. In a field experiment, replicate filtered surface water samples inoculated with duck swabs were tested...
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We conducted a national-scale assessment of mercury (Hg) bioaccumulation in aquatic ecosystems, using dragonfly larvae as biosentinels, by developing a citizen-science network to facilitate biological sampling. Implementing a carefully designed sampling methodology for citizen scientists, we developed an effective framework for a landscape-level in...
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Eggshell thickness is important for physiological, ecological, and ecotoxicological studies on birds; however, empirical eggshell thickness measurements for many species and regions are limited. We measured eggshell thickness at the equator and the egg poles for 12 avian species and related eggshell thickness to egg morphometrics, embryonic develop...
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Breeding success should increase with prior knowledge of the surrounding environment, which is dependent upon an animal's ability to evaluate habitat. Prospecting for nesting locations and migratory stopover sites are well-established behaviours among bird species. We assessed whether three species of California dabbling ducks – mallards, Anas plat...
Article
Radio‐telemetry is a commonly used scientific technique that allows researchers to collect detailed movement, habitat use, and survival data of animals; however, evidence indicates that using telemetry can affect behavior and survival. Using multiple breeding colonies and years, we investigated the effects of attached radio‐transmitters on growth a...
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Nest attendance is an important determinant of avian reproductive success, and identifying factors that influence the frequency and duration of incubation recesses furthers our understanding of how incubating birds balance their needs with those of their offspring. We characterized the frequency and timing (start time, end time, and duration) of in...
Article
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Maternal transfer is the predominant route of methylmercury (MeHg) exposure to offspring. We reviewed and synthesized published and unpublished data on maternal transfer of MeHg in birds. Using paired samples of females’ blood (n=564) and their eggs (n=1814) from 26 bird species in 6 taxonomic orders, we conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate whethe...
Article
Marine methylmercury concentrations vary geographically and with depth, exposing organisms to different mercury levels in different habitats. Red-legged kittiwakes (Rissa brevirostris), a specialist predator, forage on fish and invertebrates from the mesopelagic zone, a part of the ocean with elevated methylmercury concentrations. We used kittiwake...
Article
Exposure to methylmercury (MeHg) can result in detrimental health effects in wildlife. With advances in ecological indicators and analytical techniques for measurement of MeHg in a variety of tissues, numerous processes have been identified that can influence MeHg concentrations in wildlife. This review presents a synthesis of theoretical principal...
Article
During 2014, highly pathogenic (HP) influenza A viruses (IAVs) of the A/Goose/Guangdong/1/1996 lineage (GsGD-HP-H5), originating from Asia, were detected in domestic poultry and wild birds in Canada and the US. These clade 2.3.4.4 GsGD-HP-H5 viruses included reassortants possessing North American lineage gene segments; were detected in wild birds i...
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Context Effective wildlife management requires information on habitat and resource needs, which can be estimated with movement information and modelling energetics. One necessary component of avian models is flight speeds at multiple temporal scales. Technology has limited the ability to accurately assess flight speeds, leading to estimates of ques...
Presentation
Outreach to landowners and waterfowl hunters about the conservation and promotion and post-breeding mallard habitat within California and Southern Oregon
Article
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Since the last Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) effort to review biological effects of the exposure to organohalogen compounds (OHCs) in Arctic biota, there has been a considerable number of new Arctic effect studies. Here, we provide an update on the state of the knowledge of OHC, and also include mercury, exposure and/or associat...
Article
Wetland environments provide numerous ecosystem services but also facilitate methylmercury production and bioaccumulation. We developed a wetland management technique to reduce methylmercury concentrations in wetland fish and water. We physically modified seasonal wetlands by constructing open and deep‐water treatment cells at the downstream‐end of...
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We assessed total mercury (THg) concentrations in breast feathers of diurnal North American raptors collected at migration monitoring stations. For 9 species in the Pacific Flyway, we found species and age influenced feather THg concentrations whereas sex did not. Feather THg concentrations µg/g dry weight (dw) averaged (least squares mean ± standa...
Article
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For ground‐nesting waterfowl, the timing of egg hatch and duckling departure from the nest may be influenced by the risk of predation at the nest and en route to wetlands and constrained by the time required for ducklings to imprint on the hen and be physically able to leave the nest. We determined the timing of hatch, nest departure, and predation...
Article
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Background: Spatio-temporal patterns of movement can characterize relationships between organisms and their surroundings, and address gaps in our understanding of species ecology, activity budgets, bioenergetics, and habitat resource management. Highly mobile waterfowl, which can exploit resources over large spatial extents, are excellent models to...
Article
Expanding gull (Laridae) populations throughout the world have been attributed to the availability of anthropogenic food subsidies. The influence of landfills on California Gull (Larus californicus) space use and the timing of their movements was evaluated in San Francisco Bay, California, USA. Using radio telemetry, 108 California Gulls were track...
Article
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Nest attendance during incubation is an important facet of avian nesting behavior, and understanding the number, timing, and duration of incubation recesses can improve our understanding of the factors determining avian reproductive success. Temperature loggers are a low-cost, noninvasive method for studying nest attendance, but processing and inte...
Chapter
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The breeding population of California Gulls (Larus californicus) in the San Francisco Bay estuary increased from 24 individuals in 1980 to a peak of over 53,000 in 2014, then declined to 38,040 in 2016. The expansion of the breeding population may be related to the availability of suitable nesting sites in close proximity to anthropogenic food subs...
Article
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Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are the most abundant breeding waterfowl species in California and are important to waterfowl hunters in the state. California is unique among major North American wintering waterfowl areas, in that most mallards harvested in California are also produced in California, meaning that California must provide both high qua...
Article
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Predators sample the available prey community when foraging; thus, changes in the environment may be reflected by changes in predator diet and foraging preferences. We examined Forster’s tern (Sterna forsteri) prey species over an 11-year period by sampling approximately 10,000 prey fish returned to 17 breeding colonies in south San Francisco Bay,...
Article
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Depredation plays an important role in determining duck nest success and predator and female duck behavior during nest depredation can influence nest fate. We examined depredation of mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and gadwall (A. strepera) nests in Suisun Marsh, California, USA, in 2015–2016 with continuous infrared video monitoring to identify nest...
Article
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Egg turning behavior is an important determinant of egg hatchability, but it remains relatively understudied. Here, we examined egg turning rates and egg temperatures in Forster’s terns (Sterna forsteri). We used artificial eggs containing a data logger with a 3-D accelerometer, a magnetometer, and a temperature thermistor to monitor parental incub...
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Large fluctuations in animal body mass in relation to life-history events can influence contaminant concentrations and toxicological risk. We quantified mercury concentrations in adult northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) before and after lengthy at sea foraging trips (n = 89) or fasting periods on land (n = 27), and showed that mercur...
Article
We evaluated the maternal transfer of mercury to eggs in songbirds, determined whether this relationship differed between songbird species, and developed equations for predicting mercury concentrations in eggs from maternal blood. We sampled blood and feathers from 44 house wren (Troglodytes aedon) and 34 tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) mothers...
Article
We studied seasonal and physiological influences on mercury concentrations in western grebes (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and Clark's grebes (A. occidentalis) across 29 lakes and reservoirs in California, USA. Additionally, at three of these lakes, we conducted a time series study, in which we repeatedly sampled grebe blood mercury concentrations du...
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We used surveillance data collected in California before, concurrent with, and subsequent to an outbreak of highly pathogenic (HP) clade 2.3.4.4 influenza A viruses (IAVs) in 2014–2015 to (i) evaluate IAV prevalence in waterfowl, (ii) assess the evidence for spill-over infections in marine mammals and (iii) genetically characterize low-pathogenic (...
Article
Trace element contamination (17 elements; Be, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Mo, Cd, Ba, Hg, Tl, and Pb) of live (feather samples only) and deceased (feather and tissue samples) Anna's hummingbirds (Calypte anna) was evaluated. Samples were analyzed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS; 17 elements) and atomic absorpti...