Female birds

Joanna's PhD research is focused on female birds and conservation. What's sex got to do with conservation? Female birds are more inconspicuous and harder to study. There might be knowledge gaps about the places we conserve if we overlook females. Joanna is trying to uncover some of those gaps to improve conservation outcomes.


Joanna's research is rooted in conservation, whether it's trying to understand how to manage for species after a burn, how newly introduced species affect systems, or conservation in a rapidly changing world. In this study, Joanna and colleagues discuss the gap between science and management and strategies for bridging the gap.

Climate change

Joanna and colleagues sought to project how changing climate conditions may change the range of North American birds using species distribution modeling. They then worked with the National Park Service, Parks Canada, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to create projected species composition lists at each jurisdiction unit. This figure shows which U.S. national parks are projected to see low change, intermediate change, high colonization, high extirpation, or high overall turnover in bird species.

Great Gray Owl

Although she has never gotten to see one, Joanna got to work on the awesome, elusive Great Gray Owl and contribute to their Conservation Strategy in California. Great Gray Owls were always thought to nest in mid elevation Sierra Nevada conifer trees, but a surprising diversity of trees were used. Out of 56 known nests, 31 were found at <1500 m and one-third were in oak trees (Wu et al. 2015).

Hawaiian frugivores

Joanna studied the movements and diet of the endemic Hawaiian thrush, ‘Ōma‘o, compared to the Warbling White-eye, a generalist-frugivore that may replace its ecological function in an invaded system. ‘Ōma‘o (50 g) are much larger than the Warbling White-eye (10 g) and are thus capable of dispersing larger native fruits than the White-eye. The White-eye, however, travels substantially farther and more frequently than the ‘Ōma‘o, meaning it is more likely to spread small seeds around. With the decline of large native frugivores, endemic and native bird-dispersed Hawaiian plants may see a decline in ability to perpetuate (Wu et al. 2013).