E-mail: afudickar AT gmail DOT com
Evolution, ecology, and physiology of animal migration
I work on a broad array of annual movement types in a comparative context to better understand the causes, consequences, and patterns of animal migration. Ongoing rapid changes to global weather patterns and human induced alterations to the environment have resulted in 1) changes in the breeding and wintering ranges of migrants, 2) changes in the optimal timing of migration and 3) in some cases, the occurrence of migration.
Annual movements by animals range on a continuum from year-round residency to long-distance migration. Between these extremes we find a broad range of variation. By probing the physiological, behavioral, morphological, and genetic differences along this continuum, I aim to understand the processes by which migratory populations become sedentary and vice versa. Further, by comparing survival, fecundity, and demography of individuals and populations with different annual movement strategies, I aim to understand ultimate selective pressures that lead to migration and residency.
Expanding research frontiers in movement ecology: development of technology to study movements of animals in the wild
Animal movements and geographic ranges are being markedly affected by environmental change, leading to potential loss of ecological services and transmission of zoonotic disease to new hosts, including humans. By developing open-source technologies, including well-founded testing and validation techniques, in collaboration with Ellen Ketterson and colleagues in the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University we hope to greatly expand the accessibility of archival data tags to biologists.
Currently, with funding from the National Science Foundation, we are working on an integrated research and education project to develop, validate, and deploy new heterogeneous sensor payloads for migration and motion studies of songbirds (20-30g). This project melds novel research in biology, sensor and data fusion, and system design with undergraduate education, including a new laboratory course in computer science (CS) and undergraduate research experiences for both CS and biology students. Important outcomes include 1) novel biology, 2) design and programming methodology for, and the design of, novel ultra low-energy sensor payloads, and 3) curricular materials on the design and programming of low- energy embedded systems. While our initial focus is on developing tools for songbird migration research, the products of this research agenda are widely applicable across taxa for studies of animal movements.
Kent Farm Banding Station
Migratory animals in general, and birds in particular, amaze and engage the public, promoting broader participation and interest in science. The Kent Farm Banding Station (KFBS) is a facility that engages students and the public in avian migration research via hands on activities. In collaboration with Ellen Ketterson, in 2015 I established KFBS to provide research and education opportunities that advance knowledge to help protect the billions of migratory animals that offer global to local ecosystem services and ecological engagement. KFBS is a multipurpose field station with a large meeting room that serves as a classroom. It is housed in a recently repurposed facility on a 90-acre forested property belonging to the IU Research and Teaching Preserve. Since opening in October 2015, students and scientists across multiple departments at IU have utilized KFBS for education and outreach. KFBS has already hosted several IU undergraduate classes and groups of community members.