Mercedes Foster, Ph.D.


The primary responsibility of the incumbent is:

  1. To initiate, design, conduct, and report research on the ecology, behavior, population status, distribution, and systematics of birds relevant to the mission of the USGS.  Studies involve primarily nongame and foreign species and their habitats  
  2. Serving as the team leader of the Standard Methods for Measuring Biodiversity Project, to develop and publish handbooks
  3. Serving as a Curator of the Service's resources in the National Collection of Birds housed at the National Museum of Natural History, and working cooperatively with Smithsonian counterparts 
  4. Serving as an information resource for the USGS on issues relating to biodiversity and birds of  the Western Hemisphere
  5. Taking an active role in the professional scientific community

B.A.,  University of California, Berkeley, 1963; major Zoology
M.A,  University of California, Berkeley, 1965; major Zoology, minor Botany
Duke University Marine Laboratory, Durham, 1965; Invertebrate Biology
Organization for Tropical Studies, Costa Rica, 1966; Tropical Ecology
University of Chicago, 1968-1969 Evolutionary Biology
Ph.D., University of South Florida, Tampa, 1974; Biology

Areas of Expertise/Interest: :  Major themes include (1) the ecology and behavior of North American nearctic migrant birds during migration and in winter; (2) the ecology and behavior of selected species of tropical birds and other organisms that interact with nearctic migrants; (3) social behavior and ecology of neotropical birds, with emphasis on lek behavior, frugivory, and seed dispersal; (4) the relationships between birds and the plants whose seeds they disperse, and application of these findings to the enhancement of degraded and converted habitats; (5) development of techniques, methodologies, and standards for measuring the biodiversity of different groups of organisms;  (6) use of the bird collections in the National Museum of Natural History to address specific questions about molt, distribution, and other facets of the biology of birds; (7) conservation in Latin America; (8) training of  students in research, conservation, resource management, and museum practices.

Alexander Skutch Medal for Excellence in Tropical Ornithology, Association of Field Ornithologists (2006)
Cocha Cashu Biological Station, Outstanding Service Award (1997)
USGS Biological Resources Division - Scientific Achievement Award, 1996
26th Paul L. Errington Memorial Lecturer, Iowa State University, 1990
Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología, Colombia - Honorary Member, 1989
American Association Advancement of Science – Fellow, 1988