Archbold Biological Station
Biennial Report 1995-1996

P.O. Box 2057 Lake Placid, Florida 33862 USA
863-465-2571 FAX: 863-699-1927

back to biennial 1995 home page

Accomplishments 1995-96

With important assistance from Roberta Pickert, Geographic Information Systems Analyst, and diligent work by Keith Tarvin and Dirk Burhans, nearly all locational data pertaining to FSJ territories, nests, and focal animal foraging watches have been digitized. The sources for these data were 27 years of field maps and approximately 2,500 foraging watches.

• John Fitzpatrick, with assistance from virtually every other scrub-jay expert in the state, drafted a "Habitat Conservation Plan for the Florida Scrub-Jay."

• During the last 2 years numerous valuable specimens have been added to the research and teaching collections of birds housed at Archbold Biological Station. At present, the collections include Florida specimens for more than 70% of the species recorded from the state. Wayne Hoffman, Bob Duncan, Bob Sargent, and Mike McMillian made important contributions to these valuable reference materials.

Bird Research

Project Directors: Glen E. Woolfenden, John W. Fitzpatrick
Research Assistant: Dirk E. Burhans
Graduate Student Interns: Elizabeth M. Borst, Mary C. Garvin, Jill M. Goldstein, William J. Keating, Brian S. Nelson, Bradley M. Stith, Keith A. Tarvin
Volunteers: Katie M. Dugger, Tina L. Gionfriddo, Barbara C. Kittleson, Douglas A. Kramer, Peter E. Midford, Bill Pranty, Janet A. Woolfenden
Outside Collaborators: Robert L. Curry, Villanova University; Jack P. Hailman, University of Wisconsin; David B. McDonald and Wayne Potts, University of Florida; James S. Quinn, McMaster University
Visiting Researchers: Curtis S. Adkisson, Virginia Polytechnic Institute; Ronald L. Mumme, Allegheny College; Stephen J. Schoech, University of Washington

On 18 June (1996) the last Florida scrub-jay (FSJ) nestlings living in the "demography tract" at Archbold Biological Station hopped out of the nest. Hooray! The 1996 breeding season and the 28th consecutive year of our field work was over. On 12 December 1996 the 308th monthly census of all jays present in the demography tract was completed. Hooray again! We have never missed a monthly census since they were begun in 1971. Our long-term study continues.

The FSJ project has convinced us of the importance to ecology and life history theory of continuous, interdisciplinary study of individually-tracked organisms followed from birth to death in their natural setting. We think our research illustrates many of the values of long-term ecological data, especially in formulating and testing hypotheses in ecology and evolutionary biology, and in quantifying the nature, scale, and effects of environmental variation. Our studies also have produced early-warning signals about declines in an entire ecosystem. They also serve to educate students and the general public.

Our recent work on FSJs has varied spatially from large scale (mapping all acceptable habitat and the entire range of the species, and estimating the total population size) to small scale (following all individuals and their descendants throughout their lifetimes in the 500-ha demography tract). The major objectives of the demographic work are to establish genealogies and measure lifetime fitness for a large sample of FSJs. To achieve these goals, we color band all individuals, including all young produced annually and all immigrants, in the demography tract. Here we conduct numerous studies to measure aspects of the two major components of fitness, survival and reproduction. The major objectives of the ecological work are to understand in detail the habitat requirements of FSJs. To achieve these goals we are conducting numerous studies to measure the resource base and the effect of fire on habitat (the Florida scrub).

The FSJ research at the Station has spawned numerous other projects on the species that are scattered throughout the state. Closest to "home" is the work of Ron Mumme and Steve Schoech (see Visiting Scientists, page 18). Ten years ago they began marking and studying individuals in the "experimental tract" on the Station. Here manipulations such as removal of helpers, supplemental feeding, hormone implants, and the playback of vocalizations have shed new light on the biology of the FSJ. Six years ago Reed Bowman established marked populations in the nearby suburbs of Lake Placid and in semi-natural habitats at the Avon Park Air Force Range. See Applied Avian Ecology (page 8) for comments on this current research. Especially because of the FSJ research, the Archbold "birdlab" has been a hub of activity. During 1995–96, 7–10 persons occupied desks in the lab. Research Associate John Fitzpatrick (Cornell Univ.) continues his involvement in most aspects of the FSJ project, and especially with work on demography, resource base, fire ecology, and genetic and geographic variation. Jack Hailman (Univ. Wisconsin), on sabbatical (1996–97), continues his studies of behavior (see Visiting Scientists, page 18). Bob Curry (Villanova Univ.) is involved with measuring the resource base for the population, specifically acorns and insects. In spring 1996 Marco Cucco (Univ. Torino, Italy) studied daily and seasonal weight changes using equipment that allowed the birds to be weighed without capture. Mary Garvin (now a post-doc at Notre Dame Univ.) continues work on FSJ parasites and diseases.

Articles published on FSJs in 1996 (see Appendix A) include a paper in Ecology that demonstrates increased mortality with age (McDonald et al.), a chapter in the book "Metapopulations and Wildlife Conservation" that discusses dispersal and proposes methods for conserving the species (Stith et al.), and a chapter in the book "Partnerships in Birds" that explains the importance of long-term pair bonds to reproductive success (Marzluff et al.).

The name on our door reads "Ornithology Laboratory," and the title is justified. In recent years blue jays have received much attention, especially from the Tarvin-Garvin team (see Student Research, page 30). Curt Adkisson has moved his research on acorn dispersal by blue jays from Virginia to Florida (see Visiting Scientists, page 18).

The common ground-dove is the subject of a paper by Reed Bowman and GEW describing the species' breeding season in the southern U. S.; the work is based in part on many nest records from Archbold.

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blkball.gif (842 bytes)Lohrer, F.E . (Editor). 1998. Archbold Biological Station, Biennial Report 1995-1996. Archbold Biological Station, Lake Placid. 62 pp.
Archbold Biological Station, 1998, October.
blkball.gif (842 bytes)Webmaster: Fred Lohrer.