Harnessing Open Data for Ecological, Evolutionary Research: Elevational Migration as a Case Study

Many of the world’s bird species are elevational migrants, yet little attention has been paid to the magnitude of seasonal shift experienced between breeding and non-breeding areas.

Jessie Williamson, doctoral candidate at the University of New Mexico (Museum of Southwestern Biology, Department of Biology) will discuss the potential for using open-source data to address ecological and evolutionary questions by describing the phenomenon of elevational niche-shift migration (ENSM), which characterizes birds that undertake seasonal elevational shifts of 2,000 meters or more. This degree of shift requires profound flexibility in respiratory physiology to contend with the ~20-55 percent difference in seasonal partial pressure of oxygen, and it constitutes a seasonal transformation of the elevational dimension of the eco-climatic niche. 

She will describe efforts to study plasticity and migration of the Giant Hummingbird (Patagona gigas) in Chile and Peru. Since 2017, she has tracked the elevational and latitudinal migration of eight Giant Hummingbirds and measured blood physiology parameters from three populations to understand metabolic flexibility. The work sheds light on the physiology, ecology, and evolution of ENSM, an extreme form of elevational migration, and it illustrates key considerations of using open data in ecological and evolutionary research.


About the speaker:

Jessie Williamson is an evolutionary ecologist, ornithologist, and PhD candidate at the University of New Mexico and Museum of Southwestern Biology, where she earned her MS in 2019. She studies patterns of diversity, elevational range specialization, and migration in birds, and community dynamics of birds and their haemosporidian blood parasites in the southwestern United States, Peru, and Chile. She is also a freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in Outside magazine and The Washington Post


The session is part of the Science and Math Colloquium Series in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at ASU Polytechnic campus.

Questions? Contact Steve Saul.

College of Integrative Sciences and Arts
Steve Saul
Wed., Feb. 17, 2021, 3:30 p.m.

COVID-19 information

FAQ page  | Latest updates.