My research deals primarily with the analysis of the viability of the rangewide population of southwestern willow flycatchers. The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) is a small passerine bird which relies on riparian habitats in the southwest, primarily in Arizona, New Mexico, and southern California for use as breeding sites. The willow flycatcher has been Federally listed as endangered since 1995, and is threatened by loss of habitat and other pressures brought with increased populations within the range. A recovery plan was developed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2002 and as part of this recovery plan a population viability analysis was developed to aid in setting recovery plan goals and objectives. This analysis was limited by the lack of long-term data and the recovery plan specifically states that “As data on the flycatcher accumulate and the science of population viability analysis evolves, managers should evaluate which methods are most appropriate for the flycatcher”.
To reach this recovery objective, I will focus on data that have been collected before and after the initial population viability analysis was completed and using the MARSS (mulitvariate autoregressive state-space) package in R (a free software environment for statistical computing and graphics). This package allows the analysis of time-series census data to produce viability estimates while incorporating a spatial component.
Patrick is now a biologist at EcoPlan Associates, Inc.