One of the continent's signature grassland species, Bobolink has for decades been in steep decline. So VCE began to ask new questions and pursue pioneering research on behalf of this charismatic songbird.
VCE follows Bobolinks at virtually every stage of their life – from Canada to Argentina. VCE's Dr. Rosalind Renfrew was the first ornithologist to document, for example, the pesticide threats to flocks of Bobolinks, some exceeding 100,000 birds, on wintering grounds in South America. From there our work has only expanded. Here's how:
- Pesticides – VCE is investigating the effects of monocrotophos, a pesticide known to be highly toxic to birds and commonly used on some Bobolink wintering grounds in South America.
- Bobolink Migration Patterns and Wintering Sites – Having documented Bobolink fall migration patterns and wintering sites across the hemisphere, Rosalind and her colleagues are exploring new frontiers in Bobolink biology, including seasonal movements of individual birds, spring migration, and the migration patterns of extreme western populations.
- Blood Parasites – With researchers at Louisiana State University, VCE is helping to determine the locations where Bobolinks acquire “avian malaria,” and document whether they pass it on to other birds in the Galapagos Islands.
- Bobolinks and Climate Change – VCE collaborates with biologists at the University of Wisconsin to predict the effects of climate change on Bobolinks and on other grassland bird populations.