Ph.D. Pennsylvania State University
M.S. The Pennsylvania State University
B.S. University of Nevada - Las Vegas
I am a PhD student in Ecology at The Pennsylvania State University and am being co-advised by Dr.Todd Katzner and Dr. Rob Brooks. My dissertation research focuses on identifying potential conflicts between diurnal migrating raptors and wind power development. The goal of my research is to create management tools that can be used by developers and decision makers to prevent, minimize or mitigate negative interactions between turbines and raptors.
My focal species is the Golden Eagle. Eagles are ideal for this type of study, not only because of their size, but also because they have been among the most negatively impacted species at some wind facilities. Additionally, Bald Eagles were only recently removed from the endangered species list and Golden Eagles are rare in eastern North America with an estimated population of 1000-2000 individuals. The Altamont Pass Wind Resource Facility in California kills and average of 68 Golden Eagles each year. A similar facility in the East could decimate the eastern population in a matter of decades.
In Fall 2006 we began tracking eagles using satellite telemetry. Because the Gaspé Peninsula and the Appalachian Mountains in the US are currently undergoing rapid wind power there is strong potential for negative interactions. Previous research has shown that siting (the location) of individual turbines and wind facilities is the single most important factor in preventing negative interactions. In order to properly site facilities, we need to know the habitats and flight paths that these birds are using. My research will focus on the breeding grounds in the Gaspé Peninsula and on the migratory path through Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains.
On the breeding grounds, I will be using telemetry data to create models of home range and habitat use. This will allow me to map areas that birds are and are not likely to be found. These maps will then be used by the Québec Ministry to site and approve wind facilities that will have the minimal impact on the breeding eagle populations in the region.
On migration routes, I will be modeling roost and foraging sites. Additionally, I will create probability models that identify three dimensional flight paths along the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains. As on the breeding grounds, these models which can be displayed as a map, will then be used to identify where these birds are most likely to fly, roost and forage. Managers will then use these models to site turbine facilities so that they have minimal impact on eagle habitat and flight paths. For facilities that are already built, the models can identify high risk facilities. These high risk facilities could be periodically shut down during high risk periods, thus minimizing and mitigating negative interactions.
My research is funded through the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune in Quebec, the State Wildlife Grants programs from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, the Penn State Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and the Penn State Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Ecology.
Maps of the birds that we have been tracking and more information on the project and collaborators are listed on this web page.