Research Opportunities

An Assessment of Wild Fruit Nutritional Quality for Migrating Songbirds

Above: Fruits of native silky dogwood and arrowwood viburnum, and invasive bush honeysuckles collected at the Braddock Bay Bird Observatory.

Many species of migrating songbirds become omnivorous during the fall and consume large quantities of seasonal fruits as a major food resource during critical refueling periods at stopover sites. The quality and abundance of such fruits may be an important factor in determining migration success and can affect habitat quality for these birds. This project focuses on the value of wild fruits for migrating birds in terms of nutritional and chemical composition, and selective fruit consumption by birds during fall migration stopovers. We are currently analyzing over 12 species of local fruits and berries for macronutrient composition, energy density, total phenol content, and antioxidant capacity. A main focus of this work is to discern the differences between native and invasive fruits in terms of their nutritional quality and how this relates to fruit selection by birds and the physiological condition of birds that consume them (oxidative stress and lipid metabolism. Other projects include chemical and nutritional composition of invasive honeysuckle fruit color morphs and regional and seasonal differences in fruit chemical composition.

Professor: Susan Smith Pagano

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