Will Lewis

Searching for birds in the southern Appalachians

Email: [email protected]

I am interested in the ecology and conservation of birds, particularly those reaching the trailing edge of their breeding range in the southern Appalachian Mountains. Along with Richard and James Martin at Warnell, I am working on a project estimating the abundance and distribution of ruffed grouse in the state of Georgia. I am integrating traditional roadside drumming surveys with data from automated recording units to provide more robust estimates of grouse abundance and distribution. I am also designing a monitoring program that optimizes effort and precision for future grouse monitoring projects.

I received my PhD from the University of Georgia in 2021. I utilized a long-term breeding demography dataset of black-throated blue warblers, collected at the trailing edge of their range in North Carolina and the core of their range in New Hampshire, to determine the demographic drivers and proximate mechanisms through which climate change causes trailing edge range contractions. The results of my dissertation suggest that climate change on the breeding grounds is a primary driver of trailing edge population declines in black-throated blue warblers, potentially exacerbated by threats encountered during the non-breeding season. My results suggest that the demographic drivers and proximate mechanisms behind trailing edge declines are complex and interacting, though changes in food abundance appear to be an important pathway through which climate change is affecting trailing edge populations.

I received my MS from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2015. My thesis focused on characterizing the gut microbiota of migratory songbirds stopping along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico during both spring and fall migration.