05.21 Blue tits fly a long way for peanuts
Jack Shutt, Urmi Trivedi and James Nicholls have a paper just out in Proceedings of the Royal Society that uses plant DNA extracted from poo samples to show that adult blue tits on the transect fly a long way to feed on peanuts prior to nesting. While the proportion of poo samples containing traces of peanuts was highest near to houses, at even the most remote sites on our transect peanuts frequently appeared in the diet.
Field assistant positions available for 2020 (Positions filled)
08.19 More papers from Jack’s thesis
The first paper looks at the species composition and timing of the spring caterpillar peak on different tree taxa and across elevational and latitudinal gradients. The second paper identifies environmental predictors of blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) breeding phenology (nest initiation and egg laying date).
04.18 The transect’s first paper
Jack’s first thesis chapter is now published in Ecography. This paper looks at the effects of habitat, latitude and elevation on occupancy and productivity along the transect. It finds that occupancy declines as one travels north and uphill, but that habitat doesn’t seem to be an important influence. Productivity is broken down into two components: (1) clutch size – which seems to be largely invariant among sites and (2) the proportion of the clutch that fledges – which is much higher in oak, birch and sycamore rich woodlands.
01.18 Dr Jack Shutt
Jan 2018: Congratulations to Jack who became a Dr this week. After countless trips up and down the A9 this is a very hard won PhD. A huge thanks to Jack for getting phenoweb up and running. Thanks also to Jack’s examiners Karl Evans and Josephine Pemberton. Post viva celebrations included a beautiful transect themed cake.
05.17 James Nicholls joins Phenoweb
James Nicholls joined Phenoweb as a postdoc on the project. For the blue tit project, he is using high-throughput DNA sequencing and metabarcoding techniques to examine the diet of blue tit adults and chicks. He is extracting DNA from faecal samples, then amplifying and sequencing short stretches of genes within mitochondrial and plastid genomes. This allows us to identify invertebrate prey as well as any plant material (including seeds from garden feeders) that the birds have been eating. In Jan 2018 James moved to CSIRO.
06.16 Wrapping up the 2017 field season
We have successfully wrapped up the 2017 field season and are looking forward to analysing the data we collected – thousands of records on phenology events along a 240 km long transect in Scotland.
If you are interested in finding out more about our fieldwork, please check out our field blog.
05.17 Dagmar Der Weduwen joins Phenoweb
Dagmar is a fourth year Ecology student, working on an Honours project concerning blue tit nest insulation and composition. She aims to identify the effects of various factors on the insulatory capacity of the nests of blue tits, as well as to investigate factors influencing the material used in nest construction. Thanks to the variety in nest box locations, she will be examining the effects of temperature and habitat on nest insulation capacity.
The 2017 field season begins
Spring is gradually arriving in Scotland. As the days are getting longer and the first tree buds are popping open, we have grabbed our fieldbooks and headed out to the field.
If you would like to keep up with our fieldwork and how we are collecting data to study the phenological optimum in space and time, check out our field blog.