BCR 097: Chris Elphick, Saltmarsh Sparrows

Chris Elphick is an Associate Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Connecticut; including a conservation biologist, an applied ecologist, an ornithologist, with research interests that span in the areas of behavioral, population, community and landscape ecology. Most of Chris’s research has focused on aquatic species that occur in wetland or agricultural habitats but has also worked in tropical forest, the boreal zone, and the open ocean. The overriding goal that unites much of Chris’s work is understanding how best ecologists can guide management decisions so as to reconcile the conservation of biological diversity with other human activities.

We know that this is the busy season for birds and researchers. Right now in marshes across New England, Salt Marsh sparrows built nests, attended young and lost nests due to tides and storms. This little bird is also engaged in species critical battle with profound lessons for us all.

Show Notes:

  • Audubon had a headline last year “ The Saltmarsh Sparrow is Creeping Dangerously Close to extinction.” What’s the story behind this?
  •  Who are you affiliated with, and who provides support?
  • I understand that nests of the bird are hard to find, how do you find the nest and band birds for study?
  • How does nesting tie into Climate Change/Global warming?
  • What has been observed and what are the issues from your perspective, there is much rhetoric on all sides of climate issues.
  • Tell us about the life and habits of this bird
  •  How did you come study these birds?
  • What conservation efforts have been tried? What works?
  • Who else is doing significant work with these birds? What is SHARP?
  •  What does studying these birds tell us about other species?”

Mentioned In This Episode:

SHARP The Saltmarsh Habitat & Avian Research Program

BCR 110: Connecticut Bird Atlas

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  1. Charlie Barnard on August 3, 2017 at 10:27 am

    Interesting show. Thanks Mardi and Chris Elphick. One method of saving Saltmarsh Sparrow habitat could be the installation of tidal gates such as those at the Pine Creek saltmarsh in Fairfield. These gates were installed many years ago and have worked beautifully to prevent flooding. The gates can be adjusted to allow different water levels. I have seen small but persistent presence of Saltmarsh Sparrow, Clapper Rail, Willet and Marsh Wren in those sections of the marsh behind the protection of the tidal gates. This approach may not be possible in most situations, but in some it may be a very practical solution. I no longer live in Connecticut, so I have been unable to check Pine Creek in some time.

  2. Eric on August 3, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for raising awareness to the current issues that face the Saltmarsh Sparrow.

    • BirdCallsRadio - MardiD on August 3, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Thank you Eric for your responds. I love Saltmarsh Sparrows and like so many species they need a voice along with the great work Chris Elphick, his team and supporters are doing. I am adding on to the post/article a video that really shows the fight these incredible tough Saltmarsh Sparrows endure when their nests get flooded. Its quite moving and sad all at the same time.

  3. SHARP PI on Bird Calls Radio | Saltmarsh Habitat & Avian Research Program on October 25, 2017 at 10:57 am

    […] On August 3rd, Chris Elphick talked about the conservation of saltmarsh sparrows and other tidal marsh birds with Host, Mardi Dickinson on BirdCallsRadio. The interview can be accessed here. […]

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