Ryeland J, Weston MA, Symonds MRE (2021) The importance of wetland margin microhabitat mosaics; the case of shorebirds and thermoregulation. Journal of Applied Ecology 58, 382-391

What’s it about?

Using observations of shorebird roosting behaviour we see that their thermoregulatory behaviour (sitting down) changes in relation to temperature dependent on what microhabitat they are found in (e.g. by the water edges, among vegetation). 

What’s the story behind it?

Julia Ryeland’s Honours thesis is truly the Honours thesis that keeps on giving. This is the fourth paper from it (after previous publications in Functional Ecology, Journal of Avian Biologyand Wader Study. You may be thinking – hold on, Journal of Applied Ecology is a pretty good journal to get your fourth paper out of an Honours thesis with (OK, I know you are not actually thinking this – but it works narratively for me to assume that you are). The story here is actually a great example of how some rethinking of how you are analysing the data and the ‘story’ you are telling can change dramatically the impact of your research. Two of those previous papers had simply focussed on the effects of temperature on back rest (where birds stick their beaks into their plumage) and standing on one leg. This paper initially focussed on a similar analysis of sitting. The results were not initially very promising, and we thought this might make a note-type paper in an ornithological journal. But, when we looked at the messiness in the data we saw clear patterns that showed that sitting behaviour was being influenced by WHERE the birds were roosting – which made for a much more interesting story that we could tie to management of restored wetlands (where the work was carried out). It was a lesson to me in altering your thinking to find the more significant aspects of your research.


One response »

  1. […] the second is the fourth (!) paper from Julia Ryeland’s 2014 Honours thesis, published in Journal of Applied Ecology on the effect of microhabitat use by shorebirds on their thermoregulatory behaviour. Click on the […]

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