Field photography – John’s Flickr page
White-shouldered fairywren blog – Link (I am a contributor)
Hi there. Just enough time for a brief update.
I was awarded a grant from the American Ornithological Society for my work on the proximate mechanisms driving female ornamentation in the white-shouldered fairywren! I’m honored to have received my second award from this bird group (the first was for my final stretch of my MSc) and I look forward to putting the grant money to good use. I only wish their conferences didn’t take place during the field season so I could attend… Perhaps soon. The EEB department was also kind enough to fund the research I’m currently doing in PNG this season and for that I’m grateful.
I’ve taken over the official white-shouldered fairywren blog (wsfwblog.wordpress.com)! Well taken over is probably a bit of a stretch… I’m more like one of three contributors. But in any case, you should head on over there and read about it. I updated it recently. I’m going to copy and paste some of it here, though, in case you want to save yourself a click. But you should still check it out because there’s quite a bit of good stuff from Enbody’s time in the field before me.
“So, what am I doing here in PNG? Well, I’m in Milne Bay Province, working in two villages (Porotona and Garuahi) to start answering these questions. In Porotona, I am first exploring how peripheral testosterone (i.e., outside the central nervous system) influences plumage expression in both males and females. Broadly, the goal here is to understand if testosterone outside the brain is what controls whether or not females have ornaments. Should know the results of this experiment (hopefully) in just a few short days.
In the meantime, Serena and I gave a presentation to the local school here in Porotona about the importance of grasslands and, of course, the lovely fairywrens that live there.
In the coming weeks, I’ll begin my second experiment in the village of Garuahi. I’ll be using similar card-stock mounts that Erik used in his research, but asking slightly different questions. I’ll be presenting only a female mount of both morphological phenotypes paired with their local song phenotype to determine how males and females respond. What’s unique about this perspective is that this project gives us the opportunity to determine if and how intensively males attempt to court another female as well as how territorial females will be in response to a female intruder. Maybe, if cell service is available there, I’ll be able to update you with what happens in real time. But no promises. Stay tuned.”
As an aside, it’s important to note that PNG is so much more than just birds. Don’t get me wrong, the birds are fantastic. But there is so much life here that it’d be unfair to showcase it.
There’s plenty more to showcase, but in due time. Only have so much internet connectivity… and battery life. Until then!
April 2018 –
Well the time has come to enter the field again. I’d love to update this in real time, but my internet will not be good enough for that. However, I will attempt to remember to tweet updates throughout the field season. I’ll be heading to Milne Bay as well as Western Provinces to conduct two of my three potential chapters for my dissertation. My first experiment is behavioural in nature, in which I broadcast female songs (rather than traditional duet songs for fairywren studies) and present female mounts (below) alone in order to determine (1) male courtship behaviour and (2) female aggressive behaviour simultaneously. In addition, I will implant females with a potent anti-androgen in order to determine the role of testosterone in promoting/regulating female ornament expression as well as female song structure.
December 2017 –
Just a quick update on this semester. I had a paper published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution from my time at Appalachian State University, working on a comparison between bluebird aggression with and without a dominant heterospecific competitor (tree swallows) present. Additionally, my final golden-winged warbler paper from my field site of my master’s has been accepted in Wilson’s Journal of Ornithology, set to be published in March 2018. Link will be available in my CV as soon as it is copy edited!
In Tulane news, I’ve scrapped my entire dissertation project and am currently designing a new one! Whoo! So now I’m focused more so on attempting to look at the ultimate and proximate mechanisms driving female phenotype divergence in white-shouldered fairywrens. More on that soon to be sure.
Finally, myself and Mareli Sanchez (from the Van Bael lab at Tulane) held three workshops for elementary school students on the effect of climate change on Louisiana coasts! Always a fun (and rather messy) adventure.
Until next time!
June 2017 –
Another field season has come and gone. From March – June 2017, I spent 2.5 months in Papua New Guinea and 3 weeks in Australia conducting my second pilot field season of my dissertation as well as assisting a collaborator at Washington State University (Jordan Boersma) with research for his dissertation. As before, I traveled to Obo Village (Google Earth Obo Airport in Papua New Guinea!) in Western Province where I spent 6 weeks for Boersma’s research project before traveling to Milne Bay Province to pilot my own field work.
In Milne Bay Province, my spent time in the Alotau District, surveying birds in the villages of Porotona and Garuahi. I spent about one week at each, attempting to get a sense of what the population ecology was for each population in a rapid manner. For each population, I am interested in understanding variation in habitat structure preference, aggression response to simulated territorial intrusions, song characteristics, sex ratio, and group size.
Afterwards, I went to Australia for 3 weeks to assist another graduate student in my lab at Tulane with research on the red-backed fairywrens – I intend to make them a focal species for my upcoming research too! Also did some other light bird banding to get my Australian banding permit. But for now, I am back at home in the States, preparing for the American Ornithological Society meeting in Michigan!
November 2016 –
Hello! This is my first ever attempt at a blog post, so where to begin. My name is John Anthony Jones and I am a first year (as of Fall 2016) PhD student at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. For my dissertation, I will study ecological determinants of female-female competition, phenotypic divergence, and color evolution in fairywrens in Papua New Guinea and Australia. I will be in PNG from February 2017 through some unknown time to conduct a pilot study in Western Province.
This month, my fourth first author manuscript was accepted for publication in Ethology, which will likely become available early 2017. I will also be giving a poster at the Society for Integrative and Integrative Biology (SICB) meeting, held here in New Orleans.