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April 2022

The Audubon Bird Research Email Newsletter provides you with monthly updates outlining the work we are doing as part of the scientific research initiative at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. You will also receive emails when we are in need of volunteers for projects. Suggestions and questions regarding the newsletter can be sent to Dr. Charles Clarkson, Audubon Director of Avian Research, cclarkson@asri.org.

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Upcoming Avian Research at Audubon

For those of you that have been keeping up with the newly established Avian Research Initiative at Audubon, you know that we have been primarily focused on collecting baseline data of bird abundance and distribution across our wildlife refuges. This information is vital to our ability to track changes in these metrics through time as well as design conservation and management programs that have the greatest impact possible.

As this data collection continues through the migratory and breeding seasons, additional targeted research is underway which will work in tandem with these surveys to lend even more insight into the health of our habitats and their ability to provide for the needs of birds using protected open space. As one of the state’s largest conservation landholders, the data we collect on Audubon parcels can serve as a bellwether for the remainder of Rhode Island’s protected forests, wetlands and grasslands.

Beginning this Spring, the following two targeted research initiatives will commence at Audubon:

Acoustic Monitoring as a Tool for Effective Conservation

Neonicotinoid Exposure to Birds on Refuges

Neonicotinoid Insecticides (NNIs) are known to impact the health and function of ecosystems within and adjacent to agricultural zones, where they are commonly applied to manage crop pests. Most research to date has focused on the ability of NNIs to impact the physiology of invertebrates (target and non-target species) and vertebrates (mammals, birds and fish) living within these ecosystems. Due to their high water-solubility and low soil-binding properties, NNIs have also been shown to contaminate aquatic environments where they can impact aquatic food webs. Many invertebrate species spend their larval stage in aquatic habitats where they can bioaccumulate sublethal amounts of organic chemicals and heavy metals present in these systems. When these insects emerge into the adjacent terrestrial habitats as adults, they are often consumed by birds that forage and nest in riparian zones. While no studies have investigated the accumulation and impacts of NNIs in these species, studies of methylmercury have shown that certain avian species can accumulate contaminants in high levels, impacting nesting success and survival.


Who is that?

Blog: Bird Research at Audubon

Recently, a number of dead shore- and seabirds have been found along the Rhode Island coast. The birds are currently being tested for the presence of HPAI and, although results have not been confirmed, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island is urging individuals to avoid contact with any dead birds they may encounter and to take proper precautions to avoid transmission risk. Dead and dying wild birds should be reported to the RI Department of Environmental Management, Division of Fish and Wildlife by calling 401-789-0281. Click to read more.

In this Issue: A Reminder of Why We Do What We Do; Research Updates; Next Chapters; Citizen Science projects. Click here to subscribe to the Audubon bird research email newsletter!

With growing evidence that neonicotinoid insecticides impact so much more than their intended targets, it is incumbent on us to spend time and energy scrutinizing their use in our state.


Learn More About Bird Research at Audubon