Megan Fitzpatrick

Postdoctoral Associate

Research Interests:
Megan Fitzpatrick

I am broadly interested in the interplay between animal physiology, ecology, and behavior in the context of survival, reproductive success, and varying environmental conditions across the landscape My prior work has focused on avian energetics, but I am interested in a variety of questions and species. I am especially interested in questions that inform conservation and management work.
My PhD research focused on the energetics of endangered Whooping Cranes (Grus americana) during the breeding season, with the goal of providing information useful to adaptive management of a reintroduced population in Wisconsin. More specifically, I investigated the extent to which Whooping Cranes rely on fat reserves versus various local food resources during the breeding season using a combination of observational field data and a mechanistic model of animal heat and mass balance. Prior to using the model to investigate wild cranes, I modified it to simulate heat exchanges important to Whooping Cranes, including heat loss to water during wading behavior, and tested model results against measured energy expenditures in captive cranes. I also used the model to explore differences in climate-influenced energy expenditures in populations of Whooping Cranes at different latitudes and to simulate Whooping Crane energy requirements across their expanding wintering range.

I am looking forward to beginning research in the Zuckerberg lab, which will focus on the impacts of changing subnivium microclimates on wintering Wood Frog (Lithobates sylvaticus) energy requirements across latitudes and landcover types in the Great Lakes Region.


Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
226 Russell Labs; 1630 Linden Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1598