Tropical Bird Diversity - Brittany Hoffnagle

Laguna de Cube is the only coastal lacustrine wetland complex of the Ecuador coastal region rooted within the tropical Andes. Laguna de Cube has been reported to contain high diversity, provide critical aquatic resources for local inhabitants, and serves as the headwaters of the regional watershed. Laguna de Cube is greatly influenced by humans and is vulnerable to further degradation without a conservation plan. Laguna de Cube is listed as a highly impacted wetland under the Ramsar Convention (site #1143). Although listed, there is very limited information available about Laguna de Cube. Ecuador is the smallest country in the Tropical Andes region but has an extremely high diversity of bird life totaling about 1,600 species; 109 of them migratory and many of them endemic to the area. Birds that breed in North America become vulnerable during the winter because they return to areas in South America that are not as well protected as breeding areas in North America. For this reason, birds found at Laguna de Cube are at risk because of the current impacts on Laguna de Cube. Continued deforestation, global climate change, and population pressures can impact the local and wintering birds, destroying important habitat or confining endemic birds to even smaller ranges than currently inhabited.

Under the advisement of Dr. Kevin Godwin, my research will attempt to quantify the bird diversity of this impacted wetland complex to add to the collective research efforts completed by previous CMWS graduate students. This project will allow me to understand the differences in bird diversity between different habitat landscapes and develop a species list of birds that will be at risk if degradation continues in order to establish support for the creation of an effective management plan.

I will be able to incorporate my research in the aspects of conservation, evolution and diversity of life in the science classroom in accordance to S.C. high school Biology Science Standards B-5.1 and B-6.6. Under Standard B-5.1, adaptations and evolution are key points and is supported by my research. The tropical Andes mountain range is considered a biological hotspot and is home for large amounts of endemic species. The diversity of bird species there is great and, generally, birds are greatly adapted for their particular environment. I would hope to incorporate this idea into a lesson plan revolving around the various adaptations birds can exhibit in order to survive daily life (i.e. hallow bones, feathers, sexual dimorphism, and bill shape). In accordance of each science standard, I would develop hands-on inquiry based activities to help the students understand these concepts. Also, under the South Carolina Biology (Inquiry) Standards 8.1, I would create activities that would allow students to create hypotheses and the ability for them to test them in the hopes to elicit inferences about their observations.

shell laguna/home.txt · Last modified: December 19, 2016 (external edit)