Amy Shipley

Graduate Student


Research Interests and Background

As an avian ecologist, I am broadly interested in how species interact with the environment and respond and adapt to changing conditions, particularly anthropogenically-derived changes. Understanding the effects of changing conditions on populations is critical for informing management and conservation efforts.

My Master’s research involved studying the ecology and survival of a ground-nesting passerine during the post-fledging period in a forested urban park in Portland, Oregon. We learned that fledgling survival was lowest near edges between the park and residential areas, likely due to the additive effect of predation by natural predators and introduced domestic cats, and that low fledgling survival rates near edges combined with a seeming preference for nesting near edges created an ecological trap.

Before beginning my PhD program at UW, I worked for several years with the Kauai Endangered Seabird Recovery Project. As part of the Underline Monitoring Project, I studied Newell’s Shearwaters and Hawaiian Petrels and their rates of collision with power lines as they travel from their montane burrows to the sea. Part of this work involved using automated audio recording devices to detect the unique sound of a bird/powerline collision in an effort to pinpoint collision hotspots and to contribute to an island-wide model of seabird/powerline collision risk. I also contributed to a long-term study of shearwater and petrel population trends on Kauai using ornithological radar, and worked to identify a new method for differentiating shearwater and petrel radar targets from a long-term dataset based on species-specific transit times obtained from visual data.


Ruffed Grouse Research

Ruffed Grouse are winter-adapted birds closely associated with northern forests. Despite their popularity as game birds and various conservation and management efforts, populations have declined by over 50% during the last 50 years, particularly on the southern edge of their range. As global temperatures rise and snow cover becomes more variable, the adaptations that grouse have for surviving in the cold and snow may increase their sensitivity to changing climatic conditions. As part of my PhD research, I will be quantifying how predation on Ruffed Grouse is influenced by winter climate in a forested ecosystem in central Wisconsin.



M.S.  Biology, Portland State University, 2011. Thesis: Post-fledging survival and habitat use of Spotted Towhees in an urban park.

B.S. Biology, University of Toledo, 2005.

Contact: shipley2[at]wisc[dot]edu