Research

Designing effective measures to conserve hummingbirds requires accurate knowledge about their biology and environmental requirements.  Predicting risks to populations and future status and viability of hummingbird populations is predicated on having accurate information on the present and past status.  Scientific inquiry that is well-designed, carefully conducted, peer-reviewed, and publicly accessible is the key for providing answers. Unlike many other avian families, the published scientific record for Trochilidae is lacking in a number of areas.

Projects

PROJECT NAME: Combining remote-sensing and biological data to predict the consequences of climate change on hummingbird diversity

Claret Cup Cactus

PRIMARY INVESTIGATORS: Dr. Catherine Graham, Stony Brook University, Dr. Scott Goetz and Dr Pieter Beck, Woods Hole Research Center, Dr. Timothy Essington, University of Washington,  Dr. Don Powers, George Fox University, and Dr. Susan Wethington, HMN.

KEY PARTNERS: NASA, USA National Phenology Network, UNAM, Institute of Bird Populations, Universidad de Guadalajara

FUNDER: This project is funded by NASA under their Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES-2010), Program Element A.30 Climate and Biological Response: Research and Applications.  Project number:   10-BIOCLIM10-0094

SUMMARY: We will use classical statistical niche models, physiologically informed ecological niche models, Bayesian population models and plant-animal network models to evaluate the relationship between environmental data and biological data and to predict how environmental change will influence population persistence of hummingbirds. There are three main research objectives. We propose to combine time series data for hummingbirds with climate and remote sensing data to evaluate what changes have occurred in hummingbird populations. We will then look at variation in resources and physiological responses to environmental and climate conditions to determine why changes may have occurred and then predict how species, phylogenetic and functional diversity might be influenced by climate change.  

PROJECT NAME: Develop a matrix of interactions between hummingbird species and their nectar plants

PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Dra. Maria del Coro Arizmendi and Claudia Rodriguez, UNAM

KEY PARTNERS: HMN, USFS-IP

SUMMARY: The purpose of this work is to compile all existing information on plants visited by hummingbirds, elaborating a database consisting on plant species on the rows and hummingbird species in the columns, and presence-absence of interaction. This database will be compiled using literature sources (peer reviewed, as well as thesis, reports and other www based information) to search for studied interactions. In a second phase, for each interaction where possible (reported in the original citation) the geographic position (latitude and longitude when possible), altitude, timing of the reported interaction (flowering and hummingbird presence), vegetation type, and full citation will be recorded. For plants recorded as important for hummingbirds’ phenological data can be determined using specimens in plant collections. As plant collections contain registers for multiple years, this info can be used to search for temporal changes in phenologies.  These records can be mapped using a GIS tool and predictive models can be fitted to predict possible phenological changes that can affect hummingbirds.

PROJECT NAME: Interspecies interactions improve Black-chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri) nest success

PRIMARY INVESTIGATOR: Dr. Harold Greeney, Yanayacu Biological Station

KEY PARTNERS: HMN, AMNH-SWRS, Coronado National Forest, CLO, UNAM

SUMMARY: This project began in 2007 with the goal of studying the breeding biology and natural history of migratory hummingbirds in southeastern Arizona. During the first year we discovered that Black-chinned Hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri) were choosing to cluster their nests around Accipiter hawk nesting sites and, by doing so, realizing increased nesting success. In subsequent years we began to study the intricacies of this interaction, discovering that Accipiter nest placement creates a behaviorally mediated trophic cascade by altering the foraging behavior of predatory Mexican Jays and creating a three-dimensional enemy-free nesting habitat for hummingbirds. The project runs annually from April to August at the Southwest Research Station.

Anna's Hummingbird

Publications of HMN