Chris Latimer

Graduate Student

Research Interests and Background

I am interested in population and community ecology with an emphasis on understanding how population and community processes are impacted by anthropogenic climate change and land-use alteration. More recently, I have developed an interest in quantitative ecology and developing new statistical techniques to dealing with old problems. Most of my background is in avian ecology; however, I would not label myself as an avian ecologist or ornithologist as I would work with just about any organism as long as the question was interesting and potential outcomes meaningful.

My research in the Zuckerberg Lab is aimed at exploring the potentially synergistic and/or confounding interactions between weather and landscape characteristics and how they influence resident winter bird foraging behavior (supplemental food use), condition and survival. To accomplish this, we are using specially designed “smart feeders” equipped with Radiofrequency Identification (RFID) data loggers and placed in fragmented woodlots within various landscape contexts around Madison, WI. Birds are fitted with a uniquely numbered Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tag that is recorded every time the bird visits a feeder. I am also collecting fine-scale climate data (microclimate) in the same woodlots where feeders are set up. These data enable us to target the following hierarchy of questions: 1) How are microclimates mediated by local habitat and landscape characteristics (i.e. do fragmented woodlots in urban landscapes experience different microclimactic conditions than those in agricultural landscapes? If so, what are the underlying mechanisms causing those differences?) 2) How do changes in landscape context, weather, or both influence feeding rates and foraging behaviors? and 3) Do changes in feeding behaviors result in differential survival of individuals?

The results from this research will provide a better understanding of factors influencing winter bird foraging behaviors and survival, and will serve as a critical next step in climate change planning and adaptation.

Visit my website to learn more about me and my current endeavors!




M.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2012. Thesis:Evaluating Wildlife Response to Surface-Mine Reclamation in Southwest Virginia.             

B.S. Wildlife Science; Minor: Biology; Minor: Forestry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2009.