- B.S. (University of Michigan)
- M.Sc. (University of Guelph)
- Ph.D. (University of Toronto)
Office: LHS D235
Lab: LHS D203
Phone: 705-748-1011 ext.7640
Lab phone: ext 7670
Animal behaviour: How shorebirds share parental care
23 November 2016
When it comes to sharing parental responsibilities, birds adapt their behaviour to take shifts to look after their nests, but this behaviour varies widely between different species, finds a study published online in Nature this week. In most cases, this behaviour circumvents natural circadian rhythms governed by the 24-hour light–dark cycles. Instead, it seems that the shift patterns are driven by anti-predation strategies.
Trent Biology professor Erica Nol and colleagues analysed data from 729 nests of 32 different shorebird species, monitored over a period of 20 years, to understand how these birds synchronize their daily schedules to take turns in incubating the eggs. Patterns vary widely between species, even under similar environmental conditions. The length of one parent’s incubation bout ranges from 1 to 19 hours, but similarities are observed in closely related species. The way in which the two parents synchronize their rhythms seems to be linked to how the birds fend off predators, the authors note. Birds that actively mob predators tended to have shorter incubation bouts, whereas those that rely on camouflage incubate for longer, presumably to avoid revealing the location of their nests to predators.
The variation in synchronized social rhythms observed in these free-living animals is far more diverse than is seen under laboratory conditions and shows that social cues can have a stronger influence on certain behaviours than the circadian clock.
The article is now available on the Nature website, and is titled "Unexpected diversity in socially synchronized rhythms of shorebirds".
- Avian conservation biology
- Avian ecology
- Forest ecology
My research examines how climate variability impacts arctic shorebird populations. I am also interested in the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the ecology and conservation of forest birds.
BIOL 4140H: Ornithology
BIER3030H/WE501H: Research and data analysis
BIOL 2170/ ERSC 217: Community Ecology
BIOL 4400: Internship in Conservation Biology
Johnson, A., J. Perz, E. Nol and N. Senner. Accepted. Dichotomous strategies: The migration of Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) breeding in the eastern Canadian Sub-Arctic. Journal of Field Ornithology.
Rose, M. E. Nol and L. Pollock. 2016. Diet and prey size selectivity of Semipalmated Plovers in coastal Georgia. Canadian Journal of Zoology. Published online.
Flemming, S., A. Calvert, E. Nol and P.A. Smith. 2016. Do hyperabundant geese pose a problem for sympatric species? Environmental Reviews 24:1-10.
Murchison, C., Y. Zharikov and E. Nol. 2016. Human activity and habitat characteristics influence shorebird habitat use and behavior at a Vancouver Island migratory stopover site. Environmental Management 58:386.
Weiser, E.L., R.B. Lanctot, S.C. Brown, J.A. Alves, P.F. Battley, R. Bentzen, J. Bêty, M.A. Bishop, M. Boldenow, L. Bollache, B. Casler, M. Christie, J.T. Coleman, J.R. Conklin, W.B. English, H.R. Gates, O. Gilg, M.A. Giroux, K. Gosbell, C. Hassell, J. Helmericks, A. Johnson, B. Katrínardóttir, K. Koivula, E. Kwon, J.F. Lamarre, J. Lang, D.B. Lank, N. Lecomte, J. Liebezeit, V. Loverti, L. McKinnon, C. Minton, D. Mizrahi, E. Nol, V. M. Pakanen, J. Perz, R. Porter, J. Rausch, J. Reneerkens, N. Rönkä, S. Saalfeld, N. Senner, B. Sittler, P.A. Smith, K. Sowl, A. Taylor, D.H. Ward, S. Yezerinac, and B.K. Sandercock. 2016. Effects of geolocators on hatching success, return rates, breeding movements, and change in body mass in 16 species of Arctic-breeding shorebirds. Movement Ecology 4:12.
Geleynse, D., E. Nol, DM Burke, K. Elliott. 2016. Brown Creeper demographic response to hardwood forests managed under the selection system. Canadian Journal of Forest Research.
Mejias, M. and E. Nol. 2016. Woodland size and vegetation effects on resident and non-resident songbirds in Bermuda. Journal of Carribean Ornithology. 16 Jan 2015.
Koloski, L, S. Coulson, E. Nol. 2016. Sex determination in breeding Dunlin (Calidris alpina hudsonia). Waterbirds (DG) 39:27-33.
Henry, S., E. Nol and W. Wehtje. 2015. Influence of bottom-up trophic dynamics on Northern Saw-whet Owl irruptions revealed by small scale banding data. Ontario Birds Dec 2015: 122-133.
Lin, S-Y, E. Nol and M. E. Dorken. 2015 Spatial dynamics of pollination in dioecious Sheperdia canadensis (Elaeagnaceae). Plant Ecology 216 (9): 1213-1223
Information for prospective students
I am interested in most aspects of the biology of shorebirds, both on their breeding grounds and in their wintering range. The focus of this research is primarily on the genus Charadrius (the small plovers) but I have also had students work on communities of shorebirds in southern estuarine environments. I welcome inquiries from students with strong skills in avian ecology. Those with skills in marine biology but are interested in the terrestrial vertebrate components of marine communities are also most welcome to write. With Dawn Burke, of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, I study the ecology and conservation of forest birds. These studies require interest and, preferably, skills in ecosystem studies, as we always attempt to link the bird responses to a variety of anthropogenic stresses, to changes in vegetation, microclimate and food resources. Excellent bird identification skills (by ear) are an asset. I am not currently in a position to support students who are unable to qualify for internal or external funding.