The Antshrike Project
Dr. Tarwater has been working on Thamnophilus atrinucha (antshrikes) since 2003 when she started her M.S. project. Research has included examining reproductive behaviors, natal dispersal (from the decision to leave parents to settlement into breeding habitat), mate choice, and the causes and consequences of variation in population demography. Current work is focused on juvenile recruitment. We know the juvenile period is the most sensitive to environmental changes, but we do not know the mechanisms.
Little is known about tropical bird behavior and ecology and yet tropical species are thought to be more sensitive to environmental change. Furthermore, forest understory insectivores, like antshrikes, are highly sensitive to fragmentation and are typically the group that are the first to go extinct from fragments and the last to recolonize fragments. The work that has been done on antshrikes has taught us a great deal about the life histories of tropical birds, demography, and how they respond to changing environments.