Prothonotary Warblers

Prothonotary Warbler Research in the Cache Wetlands

prothonotary warbler

Prothonotary warbler

Jeff Hoover, Ph.D. is an Avian Ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey. He plans, develops and conducts field-oriented research on the ecology/ conservation of birds, with applications to conservation and management issues in Illinois. One of Dr. Hoover’s research projects takes him to the Cache River Wetlands.

researcher in cache swamp

Amber Albores Graduate student Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES), University of Illinois. Photo: Matt McKim-Louder






Here, he has been conducting a long-term (11-year) study of breeding populations of Prothonotary Warblers (a migratory species that is a forested wetland specialist) in southern Illinois. This research has yielded information from >3,000 individually marked adults, >6,000 nesting attempts, >5,500 offspring produced and represents one of the most detailed and extensive data sets ever recorded for a migratory passerine. Innovative field experiments with this species led to the discovery that the between-year breeding-site fidelity of adults is driven by experience-based decision rules (based on their own reproductive success). This study system is now supporting many new research directions and collaborations which include analyzing stable isotopes in feathers to link breeding and wintering grounds and determine natal dispersal distances, modeling the evolution of host defenses against brood parasitism, determining factors affecting extra-pair paternity (EPP), and linking EPP to the subsequent breeding decisions of individuals.

Hoover, J. P. 2009. Effects of hydrologic restoration on birds breeding in forested wetlands. Wetlands 29:563-573.

Hoover, J. P., and M. E. Hauber. 2007. Individual patterns of habitat and nest-site use by hosts promote transgenerational transmission of avian brood parasitism status. Journal of Animal Ecology 76:1208-1214.

Hoover, J. P., and S. K. Robinson. 2007. Retaliatory mafia behavior by a parasitic cowbird favors host acceptance of parasitic eggs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104:4479-4483.

Hoover, J. P., and M. J. Reetz. 2006. Brood parasitism increases provisioning rate, and reduces offspring recruitment and adult return rates, in a cowbird host. Oecologia 149:165-173.

Hoover, J. P., K. Yasukawa, and M. E. Hauber. 2006. Spatially and temporally structured avian brood parasitism affects the fitness benefits of hosts’ rejection strategies. Animal Behaviour 72:881-890.

Hoover, J. P. 2006. Water depth influences nest predation for a wetland-dependent bird in fragmented bottomland forests. Biological Conservation 127:37-45.

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Decision rules for site fidelity in a migratory bird, the prothonotary warbler. Ecology 84:416-430.

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Multiple effects of brood parasitism reduce the reproductive success of prothonotary warblers, Protonotaria citrea. Animal Behaviour 65:923-934.

Hoover, J. P. 2003. Experiments and observations of prothonotary warblers indicate a lack of adaptive responses to brood parasitism. Animal Behaviour 65:935-944.

Hoover, J. P. Prothonotary warblers as indicators of hydrological conditions in bottomland forests. Proceedings of the Fourth International
Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics 128–137

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