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Steven L. Van Wilgenburg

Steven L. Van Wilgenburg
Environment & Climate Change Canada

MSc

About

99
Publications
34,094
Reads
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Citations
Introduction
The aim of my work is to contribute to the conservation of migratory birds in Canada and beyond. My work focuses on the design and implementation of efficient sampling schemes for monitoring boreal forest bird populations. I also continue work examining how species interact with their environment and how species respond to forest disturbance(s). I also collaborate broadly on examining migratory connectivity to determine where and when population growth of migratory birds may be limiting.
Additional affiliations
October 2013 - present
Environment Canada
Position
  • Boreal Ecologist
August 1998 - September 2013
Environment Canada
Position
  • Wildlife Technician
May 1996 - August 1998
University of Saskatchewan
Position
  • Research Assistant

Publications

Publications (99)
Article
Full-text available
Acoustic recordings are increasingly used to quantify occupancy and abundance in avian monitoring and research. The recent development of relatively inexpensive programmable autonomous recording units (ARUs) has further increased the utility of acoustic recording technologies. Despite their potential advantages, persistent questions remain as to ho...
Article
Autonomous sound recording is a promising sampling method for birds and other vocalizing terrestrial wildlife. However, while there are clear advantages of passive acoustic monitoring methods over classical point counts conducted by humans, it has been difficult to quantitatively assess how they compare in their sampling performance. Quantitative c...
Article
Full-text available
Bird surveys have relied upon acoustic cues for species identification for decades; however, errors in detection and identification can lead to misclassification of the site occupancy state. Although significant improvements have been made to correct for false negative (FN) error, less work has been done on identifying and modeling false positive (...
Article
Full-text available
Predicting and mitigating impacts of climate change and development within the boreal biome requires a sound understanding of factors influencing the abundance, distribution, and population dynamics of species inhabiting this vast biome. Unfortunately, the limited accessibility of the boreal biome has resulted in sparse and spatially biased samplin...
Article
Full-text available
Distributions of landbirds in Canadian northern forests are expected to be affected by climate change, but it remains unclear which pathways are responsible for projected climate effects. Determining whether climate change acts indirectly through changing fire regimes and/or vegetation dynamics, or directly through changes in climatic suitability m...
Article
Many migratory species are declining and for most, the proximate causes of their declines remain unknown. For many long-distance Neotropical migratory songbirds, it is assumed that habitat loss on breeding or non-breeding grounds is a primary driver of population declines. We integrated data collected from tracking technology, community science and...
Article
Full-text available
Migratory connectivity is the degree to which populations are linked in space and time across the annual cycle. Low connectivity indicates mixing of populations while high connectivity indicates population separation in space or time. High migratory connectivity makes individual populations susceptible to local environmental conditions; therefore,...
Article
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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
Full-text available
Increased demand for timber, the reduction in the available timber resources, more frequent and severe forest fires under a changing climate have increased the use of salvage logging in North American forests despite concerns regarding impacts on biodiversity and long-term forest productivity. We aimed to complement previous approaches that used bi...
Article
Full-text available
Our earlier report of breeding/natal ground assignment, through the use of feather deuterium samples (d 2 H f) of Blackpoll Warblers (Setophaga striata) during spring and fall migration at various sites in North America, contained an erroneous breeding origin map derived for a group of birds sampled during spring migration in Florida. Updated analy...
Article
Full-text available
Substantial effort has been dedicated to developing reliable monitoring schemes for North American bird populations, but our ability to monitor bird populations in the boreal forest remains limited because of the sparsity of long-term data sets, particularly in northerly regions. Given the importance of the boreal forest for many migratory birds, w...
Article
Populations of Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi), like those of many aerial insectivores, are rapidly declining. Determining when and where populations are limited across the annual cycle is important for their conservation. Establishing the linkages between wintering and breeding sites and the strength of the connections between them is a necessary fi...
Article
Full-text available
Natal and breeding dispersal represents an important component of animal demography and metapopulation theory. This phenomenon also has implications for conservation and management because understanding movements of individuals potentially allows the identification of key habitats that may be acting as population sources or sinks. Intrinsic markers...
Article
Full-text available
Aim We combine genetic and stable isotope data to quantify migration patterns in Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus), a species of conservation concern in North America, to assess how connectivity differs and impacts population evolution, ecology, and conservation. Location We sampled shrikes across the majority of their nonbreeding range, fro...
Article
The use of passive using acoustic monitoring is a rapidly growing field in terrestrial ecology, particularly in ornithology. Much recent work has focused on using recording technologies for large-scale occupancy monitoring, while local scale studies have focused on acoustic localization for density estimation. Density estimation offers numerous adv...
Article
Full-text available
The boreal forest provides important breeding habitat for many migratory songbirds; however, changes in disturbance regimes have led to concern for populations breeding there. Monitoring data to track changes in boreal forest bird populations are scarce. Therefore, we repeated surveys at historic research sites in aspen-dominated boreal mixedwood f...
Article
Full-text available
Understanding the catchment areas of key stopover sites for migratory birds is important for their management and conservation. The Saskatchewan River Delta (SRD) in central Canada is North America’s largest inland delta and an important spring and fall stopover site for migratory waterfowl, but there is little information on the origins of waterfo...
Article
Full-text available
Autonomous recording units (ARUs) are emerging as an effective tool for avian population monitoring and research. Although ARU technology is being rapidly adopted, there is a need to establish whether variation in ARU components and their degradation with use might introduce detection biases that would affect long-term monitoring and research proje...
Article
Full-text available
Quantifying the strength of migratory connectivity or the degree to which breeding and wintering populations are connected is crucial for conservation and management of migratory birds. Using stable hydrogen isotope ratios of secondary flight feathers (δ²Hf), we assessed the breeding origins/locations of 666 common pochards (Aythya ferina) and 190...
Article
Full-text available
We analyzed stable-hydrogen (δ2H), carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ 15N) isotope ratios in feathers to better understand the molt origin and food habits of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) near sunflower production in the Upper Midwest and rice production in the Mid-South of the United States. Outer primary feathers were used from 661 after...
Data
Werner SJ, Hobson KA, Van Wilgenburg SL, Fischer JW. Multi-isotopic (δ2H, δ13C, δ15N) feather isotopes for red-winged blackbirds associated with agro-ecosystems. Figshare 2016; https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3860772. (XLS)
Chapter
Full-text available
Establishing migratory connectivity between breeding and non-breeding sites of populations of migratory birds is crucial to their effective management, but the use of conventional tracking tags is not an option for most small passerines. For declining species like Golden-winged Warblers (Vermivora chrysoptera), it is especially important to determi...
Article
Full-text available
Capsule: Stable isotope analyses reveal some degree of migratory connectivity of Bluethroat populations wintering from Iberia to West Africa. Aims: To identify the probable breeding origins of Bluethroats wintering from Iberia to Senegal. Methods: Bluethroat feathers (P1) were sampled from individuals at their wintering areas. These feathers were t...
Article
Full-text available
Responses of boreal birds to changes in forest structure and composition caused by construction of well pads, seismic lines, and pipelines are poorly understood. Bird species associated with older forests are predicted to experience larger population declines with increased disturbance compared with species associated with younger or open habitats;...
Article
Full-text available
We analyzed stable-hydrogen (δ2H), carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) isotope ratios in feathers to better understand the molt origin and food habits of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) near sunflower production in the Upper Midwest and rice production in the Mid-South of the United States. Outer primary feathers were used from 661 after-...
Article
Full-text available
The strength of migratory connectivity between breeding, stopover, and wintering areas can have important implications for population dynamics, evolutionary processes, and conservation. For example, patterns of migratory connectivity may influence the vulnerability of species and populations to stochastic events. For many migratory songbirds, howev...
Article
Full-text available
ABSTRACT The North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) is the principal source of data to inform researchers about the status of and trend for boreal forest birds. Unfortunately, little BBS coverage is available in the boreal forest, where increasing concern over the status of species breeding there has increased interest in northward expansion of...
Article
Full-text available
Declining numbers of Blackpoll Warblers (Setophaga striata) have been documented at long-term migration monitoring sites as well as in breeding areas. However, the “loop migration” of Blackpoll Warblers makes it difficult to ascribe population change at migration monitoring sites to specific breeding populations. Individuals from all populations ac...
Article
Unlike the annual bi-directional movements of over 200 bird species within the Palaearctic-Afrotropical region, irregular movements such as irruptive migration with a low degree of philopatry are reported for a variety of species depending on highly seasonal and unpredictable resources. These flexible movements allow for itinerant breeding - consec...
Article
Full-text available
Fig 1 is incorrect. Please see the corrected Fig 1 here. Fig 1 Estimated fall and spring migration routes and wintering sites for barn swallows from five populations where archival light-level geolocators were deployed.
Article
Full-text available
Populations of most North American aerial insectivores have undergone steep population declines over the past 40 years but the relative importance of factors operating on breeding, wintering, or stopover sites remains unknown. We used archival light-level geolocators to track the phenology, movements and winter locations of barn swallows (Hirdundo...
Article
Full-text available
Precipitation stable isotope patterns over continental scales provide a fundamental tool for tracking origins of migratory species. Hydrogen isotopes from rain and environmental waters are assimilated into animal tissues and may thereby reveal the location where tissues were synthesized. Predictive isotopic maps (or isoscapes) of stable hydrogen is...
Article
Full-text available
The Canadian Migration Monitoring Network (CMMN) consists of standardized observation and migration count stations located largely along Canada’s southern border. A major purpose of CMMN is to detect population trends of migratory passerines that breed primarily in the boreal forest and are otherwise poorly monitored by the North American Breeding...
Article
1. As a result of predictable large-scale continental gradients in the isotopic composition of precipitation, stable isotopes of hydrogen (δ2H) are useful endogenous markers for delineating long-distance movements of animals. Models to predict patterns of δ2H in precipitation (δ2Hp), and consequently determine likely geographic origin of migratory...
Article
There is an overdue and urgent need to establish patterns of migratory connectivity linking breeding grounds, stopover sites, and wintering grounds of migratory birds. Such information allows more effective application of conservation efforts by applying focused actions along movement trajectories at the population level. Stable isotope methods, es...
Article
Understanding migratory connectivity is critical for interpreting population dynamics, seasonal interactions, and for the implementation of conservation strategies of migratory species. We evaluated the migratory connectivity of a Neotropical migratory songbird, the Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) using archival light-level geolocators deployed at t...
Article
Full-text available
Wood Warblers Phylloscopus sibilatrix have declined considerably throughout most of their north and western breeding range in Europe but the causes of this decline are unknown. Declines may be related to factors on the breeding grounds, stopover sites and/or wintering grounds. We used multi-isotope (δ 2H, δ 13C, δ 15N) measurements of winter-grown...
Article
Full-text available
Migratory routes and wintering grounds can have important fitness consequences, which can lead to divergent selection on populations or taxa differing in their migratory itinerary. Collared (Ficedula albicollis) and pied (F. hypoleuca) flycatchers breeding in Europe and wintering in different sub-Saharan regions have distinct migratory routes on th...
Article
Full-text available
Adult birds tend to show high fidelity to their breeding territory or disperse over relatively short distances. Gene flow among avian populations is thus expected to occur primarily through natal dispersal. Although natal dispersal is a critical demographic process reflecting the area over which population dynamics take place, low recapture rates o...
Article
Full-text available
Management of migratory game birds must be considered at the flyway scale. Flyway delineation has generally relied on ring recoveries, yet migratory connectivity between breeding and wintering grounds is often difficult to demonstrate due to low ring-recovery rates. To overcome the limitations of ring recoveries, we here relied on stable-hydrogen i...
Article
Full-text available
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) are heavily hunted in south-central Europe during the winter and have been the focus of intense management efforts and concern. One of the significant challenges with this and other migratory gamebirds is that they are typically produced in locations other than those where they are primarily harvested. The delineation...
Article
Full-text available
A crucial but elusive aspect of the effective conservation and management of migratory birds is the determination of which regions or habitats contribute to the recruitment of juvenile birds into the adult breeding population or, in the case of hunted species, the annual harvest. Although ring recoveries have provided important information for seve...
Article
Despite recent advances in technology, it remains difficult to connect breeding and non-breeding areas of populations of migratory organisms due to the challenges of year-round tracking. Here, we used the Eurasian reed warbler Acrocephalus scirpaceus, a passerine with a pronounced migratory divide to demonstrate the promise of integrating several s...
Article
An emerging issue in seabird conservation is the ability to link at-sea mortality with observed demographic changes at breeding colonies. Applications of modelling and biochemical markers can be used to assign mortalities of unknown provenance to a colony of origin ensuring conservation actions are targeted at those colonies identified as the most...
Article
Full-text available
Annual mortality within bird populations can be attributed to numerous sources; however, the extent to which anthropogenic sources of mortality contribute to avian demography is largely unknown. Quantifying the relative magnitude of human-related avian mortality could inform conservation efforts, particularly if multiple sources of human-related mo...
Article
Full-text available
Annual loss of nests by industrial (nonwoodlot) forest harvesting in Canada was estimated using two avian point-count data sources: (1) the Boreal Avian Monitoring Project (BAM) dataset for provinces operating in this biome and (2) available data summarized for the major (nonboreal) forest regions of British Columbia. Accounting for uncertainty in...
Article
Full-text available
Establishing links between breeding and wintering populations of longdistance migratory birds and other animals is fundamental to several aspects of migration research. However, severe limitations in our ability to track small-bodied migratory species still limits this field despite several recent technological breakthroughs. The measurement of nat...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract Competition theory predicts that local communities should consist of species that are more dissimilar than expected by chance. We find a strikingly different pattern in a multicontinent data set (55 presence-absence matrices from 24 locations) on the composition of mixed-species bird flocks, which are important subunits of local bird commu...
Article
Full-text available
Background: The ability to connect breeding, stopover and wintering locations of populations of migratory birds greatly enhances our understanding of the phenomenon of migration and improves our chances of effectively conserving these species. Among Palearctic-Afrotropical migratory species, aerial insectivores like the house martin (Delichon urbi...
Data
Derivation of a 3-isotope (δ2H, δ13C, δ15N) African feather isoscape. (DOC)
Data
Likelihood based assignment of house martins sampled at Gaast, The Netherlands to the δ2H isoscape of [3] based on δ2H analysis of feathers grown in Africa in 2005 (n = 21), 2006 (n = 27), 2007 (n = 71), 2008 (n = 66), 2009 (n = 84), and 2010 (n = 51). Red ellipses represent the approximate location of putative origins for house martins breeding in...
Data
Stable isotope composition of feathers and frequency of times the individuals was assigned to the stated isotopic province of feather growth out of 1000 simulations (see Methods) for house martins sampled in Gaast, The Netherlands. (DOC)
Data
Summary of the isotopic composition of cells within δ2Hf, δ13C, and δ15N isoscapes falling within regions defined by cluster analysis of those isoscapes. δ2Hf represents a calibration of the predicted amount weighted growing season average isotopic composition of rainfall. (DOC)