Student Update: Liam Healey ’19
Bird declines in South Bay restoration projects
Liam Healey '19 (Environmental Studies), under the guidance of faculty member Iris Stewart-Frey, presented a poster on “Assessing Restoration Success in a South San Francisco Bay Riparian Habitat” at the 14th Biennial State of the San Francisco Estuary Conference that took place on October 21-22. The work grew out of an ESS capstone project and has been conducted together with the San Francisco Bird Banding Observatory (SFBBO). In the San Francisco Bay Area, riparian habitats, which provide important refugia for native and migratory bird species, have been significantly altered by human activities, with 95% of their historical extent lost. The SFBBO at Coyote Creek Field Station (CCFS), located in Milpitas at the southern end of the Bay, has for over 35 years recorded bird capture rates along 46 transects running through four different habitats. Liam and his student collaborators, Miranda Conlon '17 and Sarah Hibbs '19 (both Environmental Science majors), digitized and analyzed the vegetation and bird occurrence data for the different habitat types and documented changes in three main indicators: diversity, vegetation structure, and ecological processes. Although restored habitats at CCFS met criteria for maturation, the team documented declines in neo-tropical migrant bird species richness and diversity for all four habitat types. Similar declines of bird populations have been observed at other sites, causing significant concern.