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Biology Research ​Projects Underway at Algoma University

Currently, Dr. Jenn Foote of the Biology Department and Dr. Dave Brodbeck of the  Psychology Department are studying the foraging behaviours of species of winter resident birds in our area. In one study, the team uses 3 different coloured bird feeders at three different locations about 400 meters apart. Each feeder has a different amount of food and students Riley Gridzak, Jake Alphonso, and Keeghan Rosso monitor the amount of seeds missing each day and refill the feeders each morning. Twice per day they monitor each feeder for one hour using either video cameras or by making observations with binoculars. The students determine  how many times the birds go to each feeder to determine if the number of visits matches the amount of food in each feeder.  

In another study, the team is also studying dominance interactions between different species visiting the feeders. Using six locations in the forest between Wellington St. E. and Queen St. E., the team, led by Biology student Jordan Winter, sets up cameras and makes in-person observations of which species displace each other to determine their dominance relationship. For example, black-capped chickadees are displaced from the feeder by white-breasted nuthatches. This data will help the team design experiments testing how resident birds respond to the calls of other species they encounter regularly at feeders.

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