Avian Thermal Ecology Lab

Cape Breton University, Sydney, Nova Scotia
What the facility does

Research on behaviour and resource competition in nestling birds, behavioural ecology, behavioural thermoregulation, nestling competition, wetlands policy, art and science (ArtSci) and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics).

Areas of expertise

My research focuses on resource competition (thermal, food) in avian systems. I use a behavioural and physiological approach in pursuing the objectives of this research, using blackbirds as model systems for passerine birds. The specific short-term goals of my research are threefold: i) to study nest architecture as an adaptation to moderating the thermal environment; ii) to evaluate the adaptive behavioural response of nestlings to the nest microclimate; and iii) to measure the energetic costs of nestling activity, including begging and behavioural thermoregulation.

To date, my research has focused on the response of nestling birds at the spatial scale of the nest. I have recently diversified my research by ‘scaling up’ from the nest to the exploration of visual rends in broad-scale patterns of local species abundance and diversity; applying my research to a collaborative initiative to inform and educate about the importance of wetlands and emerging issues unique to Cape Breton Island/Unama’ki; and using my experience as a scientific researcher with active interests in the visual arts to advance STEAM and an ArtSci collaboration.

Research services

Respirometry, solar illuminator, environmental chambers, Adobe software (visual data analysis)

Sectors of application
  • Agriculture, animal science and food
  • Arts and cultural industries
  • Education
  • Policy and governance
Sciencetech Solar SimulatorSimulates the insolation conditions (sun and shade) of the nest environment
Peltier-controlled environmental chambersGenerates specific temperatures in the environmental chambers and maintains temperatures. Used in conjunction with the solar illuminator to generate current and predicted nest conditions.
Qubit Systems Respirometry SystemMeasures energetic costs of nestling behaviour
  • CBU Art Gallery (Cape Breton University)
2017 Lumière Arts Festival promotion tool and guide to installations, including the Community ArtSci Windowhttp://lumierecb.com/gallery/?flickrUser=160318881%40N05&flickrSet=72157699079788861&flickrYear=2017