Field Season 2015

Monday August 10th begins my fourth field season. Just saying that makes me pause, I’m a fourth year PhD Student, a PhD Candidate, man time has flown.

Anyway, things will get rolling Monday and I am very excited, Sora are already being reported in Missouri by the area managers so we will be hitting the ground running.

I will be posting weekly updates here, as well as more or less daily updates to twitter for anyone who would like to follow along. The hashtag #MORails is the easiest way to find all the rail-y goodness.

This fall we will be year two of a three year experiment to look at the impacts of early flooding on both rails and waterfowl. Each area we work on (there are 10 federal and state properties across Missouri) has at least two impoundments in the experiment, and they have been randomly assigned to an early (early August) or late (mid September) flooding treatment. This began in 2014, this year the treatments are being flipped, so what was early in 2014 will now be late, and vise versa. Me and my technician go out from August-October and do rail surveys at night on ATVs and then all throughout the late fall and winter the managers do weekly waterfowl counts. We use these data to compare the response of both waterfowl and rails to the two treatments.

This fall we will also be catching lots of Sora across the state (along with any Yellow and Virginia Rails we can get our hands on) as part of a migratory connectivity project (the reason I was in Canada earlier this year). We have this idea that rails in east and west Missouri may be coming from different parts of the breeding range and this project will be a first step in examining that question. We’ll be doing it by catching birds and taking feather samples for stable isotope analysis. Should be a ton of fun.

Any questions about the project let me know, twitter (@RallidaeRule) or email (

Written on August 8, 2015