Ezra Campbell

Thesis Title: Status and Distribution of Diurnal Raptors on the Island of Grenada: Grenada Hook-Billed Kite (Chondrohierax uncinatus mirus) and Antillean Broad-Winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus antillarum)

Past: Bachelors of Science in Biology with focus in Wildlife & Conservation, St. George’s University, Grenada

Ramon Williams

Thesis Focus: Distribution, Diversity, and Abundance of Grenadian Terrestrial Birds, Including Endemic and Restricted-range Species.

Paulson Des Brisay

I received my BSc in Zoology at the University of Guelph in 2012. Completing my honours thesis, which examined the ambiguity of species limits using mitochondrial DNA in a cryptic, wide-spread ant, left me with an interest in factors that cause some species to not 'follow the rules'. Such species specific responses can reduce the effectiveness of conservation efforts to mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance.  My current research is focused on applying methods from conservation physiology to determine why similar species may react differently to disturbance by linking settlement patterns, body condition, and  glucocorticoids (stress hormones) in grassland songbirds at varying proximities to oil development. I am also coordinating the geolocation deployment in Alberta, I am the lead bander on the Grenada songbird banding initiative, and I am actively trying to collaborate with as many people as I can. 

Rosemary Dohan

Thesis Focus: Oil development legislation and habitat protection in Manitoba

I have an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies (Hons., Co-op) from the University of Manitoba and am a certified Environmental Practitioner (EP) specializing in Natural Resources Management. I am currently employed with the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment and serve as board president for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, Manitoba Chapter. I am originally from Ontario but am sticking around for the flatland cycling and good cross-country skiing.

Chelsea Enslow

My primary area of interest is conservation of biodiversity, and I have a particular interest in applying innovative laboratory techniques into conservation of avian species. I have a BSc in Environmental Science from the University of British Columbia, and my previous research experience includes terrestrial invasive species, stable isotopes of marine zooplankton and macroalgae, point counts and nest searching for prairie birds, and bird banding. My research at the University of Manitoba involved investigating the pattern of blood parasite infection prevalence in Golden-winged Warblers across Canada, with a particular focus on the interactions between anthropogenic disturbance and parasite prevalence in Manitoba.

Christoph Ng

For my thesis research (2014 – 2017), I studied how proximity to oil and gas infrastructure and roads in southeastern Alberta affects the incubation and parental behaviour of threatened Chestnut-collared Longspurs (Calcarius ornatus). On the side, I am interested in citizen science, and I have carried out a social sciences study on the motivations and scientific attitudes of the Manitoba Nocturnal Owl Survey participants. Since graduating I have worked in a variety of sectors, including for NGOs, conservation authorities, and environmental consulting.



  • Ng, Christoph S., Paulson G. Des Brisay, and Nicola Koper. In press. Chestnut-collared longspurs reduce parental care in the presence of conventional oil and gas development and roads. Animal Behaviour.

  • Ng, Christoph S., James R. Duncan, and Nicola Koper. 2018. Who’s “hooting”? Motivations and scientific attitudes of Manitoba citizen science owl surveyors. Avian Conservation and Ecology 13:9. doi:10.5751/ACE-01265-130209

  • Ribic, Christine A., Christoph S. Ng, Nicola Koper, Kevin Ellison, Pamela J. Pietz, and David J. Rugg. 2018. Diel fledging patterns among grassland passerine: Relative impacts of energetics and predation risk. The Auk 135:1100–1112. doi:10.1642/AUK-17-213.1

Jacy Bernath-Plaisted
Jacy Bernath.jpg

My research focused on the effects of anthropogenic development associated with conventional oil and natural gas production on the nesting success of grassland bird communities in southern Alberta. Grasslands are among the most threatened ecosystems on earth, and as human development continues to fragment remaining habitat for specialized grassland species, it is critical to understand how the introduction of anthropogenic edge affects the ecology of open systems. Currently, I hold a position as an avian ecologist for Colorado-based non-profit, Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. There, my work focuses on demographics and full annual cycle ecology of grassland-obligate birds in the Northern Great Plains.


  • Bernath-Plaisted, J., H. Nenninger and N. Koper. 2017. Conventional oil and natural gas infrastructure increases brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) relative abundance and parasitism in mixed-grass prairie. Royal Society Open Science 4: 170036.

  • Bernath-Plaisted, J. and N. Koper.  2016. Physical footprint of oil and gas infrastructure, not anthropogenic noise, reduces nesting success of grassland songbirds. Biological Conservation 204: 434-441.

Lionel Leston
Lionel Leston.jpg

My work in the Koper Lab involved analyzing effects of surrounding land use and local vegetation management on the diversity of plants and animals (birds, butterflies, ground beetles, and other arthropods) within rights-of-way along an urban gradient in Winnipeg, Manitoba, 2007-2009. This research can be used to determine how and where to manage urban transmission lines as tall-grass prairie habitats.


I am now studying the effects of forestry and energy sector development on boreal bird communities in northern Alberta, with the Boreal Avian Modelling Project at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta.



  • L. Leston, and N. Koper. 2017. Managing urban and rural rights-of-way as potential habitats for grassland birds. Avian Conservation and Ecology 12 (2):4. [online] URL:

  • L. Leston and N. Koper. 2016. The potential of resource plant-rich urban rights-of-way as extensive butterfly habitats. Landscape and Urban Planning 157:56–62. DOI 10.1016/j.landurbplan.2016.05.026

  • L. Leston and N. Koper. 2015. Urban rights-of-way as reservoirs for tall-grass prairie plants and butterflies. Environmental Management 57: 543-557. DOI 10.1007/s00267-015-0631-9.

  • L. Leston and N. Koper. 2018. An urban wildlife habitat experiment: conservation implications of altering mowing regimes on animals and plants along urban and rural rights-of-way. In review at Journal of Urban Ecology.

Nicholas La Porte
N LaPorte and Harris hawk.jpg

While completing my Master's degree in the Koper Lab, I studied the impact of artificially stabilized water levels and invasive species on the nesting ecology of the western grebe, and how this impacted their breeding success in Delta Marsh, Manitoba, a RAMSAR wetland of international importance. I received a B.Sc in Environmental Science from the University of Winnipeg. My research with Dr. Koper culminated in the publication of Assessing the Breeding Success of the Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) After 40 Years of Environmental Changes at Delta Marsh, Manitoba in the journal Waterbirds. This work also led to me revising and updating the western grebe account in the expert bird guide Birds of North America. Since graduating from the NRI in 2012, I have been primarily engaged with studying the impacts of hydroelectic development on bald eagles, colonial waterbirds, waterfowl, upland game birds, caribou, moose, and furbearing mammals in Manitoba.



  • Assessing the Breeding Success of the Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) After 40 Years of Environmental Changes at Delta Marsh, Manitoba. 2014. Waterbirds 37(1):30-42.

  • LaPorte, N., R. W. Storer, and G. L. Nuechterlein (2013). Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Maggi Sliwinski
Maggi Sliwinski.jpg

My research was looking at how songbirds and vegetation structure attributes responded to variable stocking rates and determining if there were any differences between bison and cattle grazing on the songbird community. This work was completed in Grasslands National Park. I also worked on a small project looking at the impact of edge effects on grassland songbirds. I got my degree in October 2011. Since graduation, I travelled to Kenya to volunteer at a conservation organization, spent a summer doing fieldwork in North Dakota with The Nature Conservancy, travelled to Europe to learn about the use of role-playing games in conservation, and completed my PhD at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looking at the impacts of grazing systems on grassland songbirds and their habitat. I am now the vegetation ecologist at Grasslands National Park, and I manage programs on grazing for SAR, invasive species management, habitat enhancement for SAR, and native prairie restoration.



  • Sliwinski, M. S. & Koper, N. Managing Mixed-Grass Prairies for Songbirds Using Variable Cattle Stocking Rates. Rangel. Ecol. Manag. 68, 470–475 (2015).

Nicholas Bergen

Thesis Title: Grenadian Songbird Survey Methods: Comparing line transects to point counts using dependent double observer methods.

Alex Heathcote

My research focuses on grassland songbirds in the Canadian prairies where I am studying the effect of oil infrastructure and the corresponding anthropogenic noise on the development of the early stress response in altricial nestlings. During my degree I helped to set up the Grenada songbird banding initiative and am currently examining the effects of species diversity on ecological release. I am from Halifax, Nova Scotia where I completed a BSc. at Dalhousie University.

Patricia Rosa

Research: The Effects of Noise from Oil Well Development on the Diversity, Abundance and Reporductive Success of Grassland Birds in Southern Alberta.

Marika Olynyk

Thesis Focus: Edge Effects on Pollination in Fragmented Manitoba Grasslands

Erin Prokopanko

Thesis Focus: Can Spring Artificial Conspecific Cues Influence the Settlement of Le Conte's Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows in the Tall-Grass Prairie?

Laurel McDonald
Masters of Environment
(Department of Environment and Geography)

My thesis topic was area sensitivity of grassland birds in remnant patches of tallgrass prairie in Southern Manitoba. My research suggested that landscape openness, not patch size (with which it is usually correlated) drives area sensitivity.  Small grassland patches embedded in open landscapes, as opposed to forested or urban landscapes, are less susceptible to area sensitivity and may be of high conservation value for grassland birds. I currently live in the North Okanagan in British Columbia. I work part-time at a local nature centre, and do biological contracting on the side.

Claire M. Curry

I was a Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-2016) and Research Associate (2016). 


I worked on the effects of noise from energy development (specifically oil and gas infrastructure) in southeastern Alberta. This project specifically compares how Baird's Sparrow (Ammodramus bairdii) and Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) songs are altered in the presence of noise.  We found that both species change their songs in spite of the Savannah Sparrow's higher levels of rangewide variability in song (2017 in Bioacoustics) and additionally that some infrastructure types alter more song elements of Savannah Sparrows than other infrastructure types (Condor, accepted Sept. 2017).  I'm a co-author on an Ecology and Evolution paper asking whether noise pollution affects the ability of observers to detect species by sound during surveys. Finally, we conducted experiments to see how Savannah Sparrow response to song is changed with both songs from quiet and noisy environments in the two environments, respectively, and whether individual physiology was associated with these responses.  Our 2018 open access article in Scientific Reports has all the details, code, and data.  

I am now a Science Librarian at the University of Oklahoma Libraries in Norman, OK, USA.  My other positions between working with Nicky and here are on my CV:


  • Curry, C.M., P. Des Brisay, P. Rosa, and N. Koper.  2018.  Noise source and individual physiology mediate effectiveness of bird songs adjusted to anthropogenic noise.  Scientific Reports 8:3942.

  • Warrington, M.H., B. Antze, C.M. Curry, and N. Koper.  2018.  Noise from four types of extractive energy infrastructure affects song features in Savannah Sparrows.  Condor: Ornithological Applications 120(1):1-15.

  • Curry, C.M., B. Antze, M.H. Warrington, P. Des Brisay, P. Rosa, and N. Koper.  2018.  Ability to alter song in two grassland songbirds exposed to simulated anthropogenic noise is not related to pre-existing variability.  Bioacoustics 27(2):105-130.

  • Pipher, E.N., C.M. Curry, and N. Koper. 2016. Cattle grazing intensity and duration have varied effects on songbird nest survival in mixed-grass prairies.  Rangeland Ecology & Management 69(8):437-443.

Kelsey Molloy.jpg
Kelsey Molloy

I did my Master’s research in the East Block of Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, on the effects of cattle stocking rates on grassland songbird communities. I found that songbird species responded differently to grazing intensities based on their habitat needs. Additionally, grazing impacts were not cumulative, likely due to precipitation extremes in some of the study years.  I received my degree in October 2014. I moved to Malta, Montana in 2014 to work for the Soil and Water Conservation Districts of Montana. I currently work for The Nature Conservancy as a rangeland ecologist.

Jennifer Rodgers
Jennifer Rodgers.JPG

Thesis Focus: Effects of shallow gas development on relative abundances of grassland songbirds in a mixed-grass prairie

Before attending the University of Manitoba and completing my Master of Natural Resource Management (MNRM) degree, I completed my Bachelor's degree at the University of Waterloo in Environment and Resource Studies. Following the completion of my MNRM in 2013, I worked for Environment Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) on a variety of projects working with wildlife such as birds, coyotes, wolves, moose, and caribou. I am currently an Analyst for the MNRF Human Dimensions of Conservation and Ecosystem Management Program at the Centre for Northern Forest Ecosystem Research in Thunder Bay, Ontario.


  • Rodgers, J. A., and N. Koper. 2017. Shallow gas development and grassland songbirds: the importance of perches. Journal of Wildlife Management 81(3):406-416. doi:10.1002/jwmg.21210.

Alexis Richardson

Prior to attending the University of Manitoba I completed a BSc. from McMaster University and worked for Fisheries and Oceans in P.E.I where I was a part of the American eel research team. My graduate research at the NRI investigated the effects of rangeland management, focusing on cattle grazing and fire, on the grassland songbird community. I decided to stay in the prairies after I graduated in 2012 and currently live in Saskatchewan and work for Stantec Consulting as a Wildlife Biologist.


  • Richardson, A. N., Koper, N. and White, K.A. 2014. Interactions between ecological disturbances: burning and grazing and their effects on songbird communities in northern mixed-grass prairies. Avian Conservation and Ecology 9 (2): 5. [online] URL:

Allison Krause
Allison Danielsen.jpg

Thesis Focus: Using landowner knowledge and field captures to determine habitat use by the northern prairie skink (Plestiodon septentrionalis) on exurban residential land in southwestern Manitoba.

I have a BSc. major in Ecology in addition to the M.N.R.M. and I have worked for NGO's, consultants and government. After I graduated in 2012, I was hired at Manitoba Sustainable Development (then MB Conservation) and have worked there since as the Regional Wildlife Biologist for SW Manitoba based in Brandon. I have a lot of variety in my work, from managing wildlife Crown lands to big game surveys and urban wildlife management. I am still able to maintain a connection with my master's subject, the prairie skink, as the Chair of the Northern Prairie Skink recovery working group and through interpretive events like the annual Skink Fest at Spruce Woods Provincial Park. 


  • The Importance of Vegetation Structure and Artificial Cover for Prairie Skinks (Plestiodon septentrionalis) on Exurban Land Author(s): Allison Krause Danielsen , Pamela Rutherford , and Nicola Koper Source: Journal of Herpetology, 48(1):67-73. 2014. Published By: The Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles DOI: URL: