Jeffrey Spendelow, Ph.D.
Jeff Spendelow is a Research Wildlife Biologist with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in Laurel, MD where he has worked since 1985. From 1982-1984 he worked as a Wildlife Biologist/Ecologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) National Coastal Ecosystems Team in Slidell, LA after receiving his Ph.D. (1980) and B.S. (1972) degrees in Biology from Yale University. In 2008 he was elected as a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, and he has been a Life Member of the AOU and several other ornithological societies since the 1970s. He has been the Director of PWRC’s Cooperative Roseate Tern Metapopulation Project (the CRTMP) ever since organizing it in 1987, and is the USGS member and Chair of the Technical Working Group of the USFWS’s Recovery Team for the endangered NW Atlantic breeding population of Roseate Terns.
Science and Products
The Challenge: Terns in coastal areas of the Northeastern US likely will be impacted by construction and operation of offshore wind turbines. The “Cape Cod & Islands” (CCMA) area of Massachusetts is a particularly important area for the endangered Northwest Atlantic Roseate Tern (ROST) population as most ROSTs from throughout the breeding range (Nova Scotia to Long Island, New York) congregate there in large numbers for several months during the postbreeding staging period prior to fall migration to South America. To properly evaluate the risk to this species we need to learn more about the timing of use of the staging sites by ROSTs of different ages/breeding status.
The Challenge: Research that integrates population dynamics and ecological studies is needed to identify the causal factors involved in population declines and viability. For highly mobile organisms such as birds, “between-patch” movements and the use of different geographic sites and habitats at various stages of the annual cycle can make it difficult to measure the effectiveness of “within-patch” site-specific management activities. These local restoration activities must be evaluated within the context of overall population changes on a regional or metapopulation scale. The major objective of this study is to develop new multistate capture-recapture/resighting and ultrastructural models to examine sex- and age- specific regional survival, movement, and recruitment rates. Once developed and tested with data collected from a long-term regional metapopulation study of a suitable species, these general types of models can be adapted for widespread use on a variety of other species.
First evidence that paired Roseate Terns may travel together during spring migration
A mated pair of colorbanded Roseate Terns from the Northwest Atlantic Ocean breeding population was photographed on 12 May 2010 while staging near Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. This represents the first evidence that mated pairs of this species may travel together during their northward spring migrationSpendelow, Jeffrey A.; Lugo, Gabriel
Rapid 3-week transition from migration to incubation in a female Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
A female Roseate Tern that staged in Puerto Rico on 10 May 2008 on its migration north was first observed in the nesting area at Bird Island, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts on 21 May. It was incubating a complete clutch of two eggs by 1 June and likely had initiated laying within 20 days of having been in Puerto Rico.Spendelow, Jeffrey A.
Using optimal transport theory to estimate transition probabilities in metapopulation dynamics
This work considers the estimation of transition probabilities associated with populations moving among multiple spatial locations based on numbers of individuals at each location at two points in time. The problem is generally underdetermined as there exists an extremely large number of ways in which individuals can move from one set of locations...Nichols, Jonathan M.; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.; Nichols, James D.
Quantifying the effects of research band resighting activities on staging terns in comparison to other disturbances
Avian research that involves potential disturbance to the study species may have unintended fitness consequences and could lead to biases in measurements of interest. The effects of band resighting on the behavior of mixed-species flocks of staging waterbirds were evaluated against recreational pedestrian activity that was expected to cause...Althouse, Melissa; Cohen, Jonathan B.; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.; Karpanty, Sarah M.; Davis, Kayla L.; Parsons, Katharine C.; Luttazi, Cristin F.
Roseate Tern breeding dispersal and fidelity: Responses to two newly restored colony sites
We used 22 yr of capture–mark–reencounter (CMR) data collected from 1988 to 2009 on about 12,500 birds at what went from three to five coastal colony sites in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, United States, to examine spatial and temporal variation in breeding dispersal/fidelity rates of adult Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii). At the...Spendelow, Jeffrey A.; Monticelli, David; Nichols, James D.; Hines, James; Nisbet, Ian; Cormons, Grace; Hays, Helen; Hatch, Jeremy; Mostello, Carolyn
Prebreeding survival of Roseate Terns Sterna dougallii varies with sex, hatching order and hatching date
Unequal sex ratios can reduce the productivity of animal populations and are especially prevalent among endangered species. A cohort of 333 Roseate Tern Sterna dougallii chicks at a site where the adult sex ratio was skewed towards females was sexed at hatching and followed through fledging and return to the breeding area, and...Nisbet, Ian C.T.; Monticelli, David; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.; Szczys, Patricia
First record of a banded Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis) moving from England to the United States
A Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis sandvicensis) banded as a chick in 2002 at Coquet Island off the northeast coast of Great Britain was observed at two locations on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, in August and September 2013. This is the first record of a banded Sandwich Tern from the United Kingdom being observed in the United States.Spendelow, Jeffrey A.
Morphometric sexing of Northwest Atlantic Roseate Terns
A difficulty in the study of monomorphic species is the inability of observers to visually distinguish females from males. Based on a sample of 745 known-sex birds nesting at Bird Island, MA, USA, a discriminant function analysis (DFA) was used to sex Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) of the Northwest Atlantic population using morphological...Palestis, Brian G.; Nisbet, Ian C.T.; Hatch, Jeremy J.; Szczys, Patricia; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.
Post-fledging brood and care division in the roseate tern (Sterna dougallii)
Extended post-fledging parental care is an important aspect of parental care in birds, although little studied due to logistic difficulties. Commonly, the brood is split physically (brood division) and/or preferential care is given to a subset of the brood by one parent or the other (care division). Among gulls and tern (Laridae), males and...Watson, M.J.; Spendelow, J.A.; Hatch, J.J.
Modeling individual animal histories with multistate capture–recapture models
Many fields of science begin with a phase of exploration and description, followed by investigations of the processes that account for observed patterns. The science of ecology is no exception, and recent decades have seen a focus on understanding key processes underlying the dynamics of ecological systems. In population ecology, emphasis has...Lebreton, Jean-Dominique; Nichols, James D.; Barker, Richard J.; Pradel, Roger; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.
Juvenile survival in a tropical population of roseate terns: Interannual variation and effect of tick parasitism
Many demographic studies on long-lived seabirds have focused on the estimation of adult survival, but much less is known about survival during the early years of life, especially in tropical species. We report analyses of a capture–recapture dataset of 685 roseate terns ringed as fledglings and adults between 1998 and 2005 on Aride Island,...Monticelli, David; Ramos, Jaime A.; Hines, James E.; Nichols, James D.; Spendelow, Jeffrey A.
Temporal variation in adult survival rates of Roseate Terns during periods of increasing and declining populations
We used 19 years of mark-recapture/resighting data collected on 11, 020 birds from 1988-2006 at five colony sites in Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut, USA, to examine temporal variation in the survival rates of adult Roseate Terns (Sterna dougallii) during periods of overall population increase (1988-2000) and decline (2000-2006). Roseate...Spendelow, J.A.; Hines, J.E.; Nichols, J.D.; Nisbet, I.C.T.; Cormons, G.; Hays, H.; Hatch, J.J.; Mostello, C.S.