Current Students and Fellows


Kevin Hawkshaw (Ph.D. student)



Mathieu Tetreault (MSc Candidate)

During brood rearing, Arctic breeding raptors must match prey delivery with increasing demand from growing nestlings, but they also face important spatio-temporal variations in prey density. The goal of my project is to understand how this dynamic will affect foraging patterns of Peregrine Falcons. I am looking at the effect of brood mass and insectivorous birds’ density in the habitat surrounding the nest on the home range size and foraging distances of adult Falcons. I am using movement data acquired with GPS accurate Platform Terminal Transmitters to estimate home ranges and foraging distances on 16 Falcons from two of our study site (Rankin Inlet and Igloolik). I then use distance sampling to estimate density of insectivorous birds and density surface modeling to map their distribution within falcon home ranges. Accurate monitoring of the nesting stages was made to obtain estimations of total brood mass.


- Past Students

Mikael Jaffre (Ph.D.)

Relatively few studies on pollutants have directly linked  contaminant levels to long term survival or reproduction of individuals. Using long-term mark recapture data I will focus on investigating the extent to which  accumulated contaminants (DDT) in peregrines affected the reproductive behavior and survival. In addition, I am interested in examining whether the variability in adult survival can be explained by different reproductive parameters (e.g. nesting attempt, clutch size, brood size).

Erik Hedlin (MSc)

Previous studies have shown that there is a relationship between the direct effects of rainfall and  mortality of Peregrine nestlings. Since these forces may also affect populations of falcon prey, weather may also be linked to Peregrines in an indirect manner.  The objective of my project is to investigate the affect of food availability on nestling survival, and to determine if prey availability is a limiting factor during the brood rearing period.   

To reach this objective, I will conduct a food supplementation experiment.  After nestlings hatch, randomly selected nests will be food supplemented accounting for brood size and age of the nestlings. By tracking and comparing nestling survival and growth in nests receiving and not receiving supplemental food, we will be able to determine if, and to what extent prey availability is a limiting factor during the this energetically expensive period.


Kristen Peck (MSc)

The objective of my study is to construct a broad-scale probability surface that identifies peregrine falcon breeding locations using historic nest sites and remote sensing information.  

The general methodological approach will require identifying typical land cover features associated with nesting habitat.  I will investigate the relative importance of topographical, prey indicators, climate and human infrastructure variables on peregrine nest locations in order to generate a breeding distribution map of this species throughout Nunavut. This study will help wildlife managers and landscape developers recognize peregrine nesting habitat to reduce conflict between development and wildlife.  

I will use ecological-niche factor analysis to identify the most important features for areas of ideal nesting habitat.  Beginning in May, as Peregrine Falcons arrive from their wintering grounds, I will ground-truth a subset of model-derived locations of high and low probability for presence of breeding pairs of Peregrine Falcons. 

Phil Galipeau (MSc)

Understanding the factors underlying the coexistence of species is a major goal in community ecology. Species that have similar ecological niches may compete for resources. Spatial segregation and food differentiation can then facilitate coexistence. The Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus), Gyrfalcon (F. rusticolus) and Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) are birds of prey nesting in the Canadian Arctic. Their diets, their use of time, the phenology of their reproduction and their breeding habitat have several similarities. Thus, they may compete for the acquisition of breeding territories. In addition, the use of habitat by these large avian predators during their breeding season, and the influence of interspecific interactions on nesting habitat selection on a large scale are not well known in the high Canadian Arctic. My project aims to examine the habitat use during the breeding season for these raptors. The objectives are to describe, quantify and compare land cover and topography around nests to test the hypothesis that the four species share the available space during their breeding period.

Vincent Lamarre (MSc)

The aim of my project is to link breeding phenology and breeding success of adult peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) to body condition indices measured during the pre-reproductive period. . Recent studies have shown that the survival rate of young falcons during their first weeks decreases markedly (30%) per day of delay in hatching date, highlighting the importance of the breeding phenology in this population. To achieve this objective, falcons will be captured shortly after their spring arrival on territory. An indicator of the amount of accumulated energetic reserves will be determined from morphometric measurements (mass controlled for the body size of individual). In addition, indices of physiological condition will be measured from blood samples (e.g. corticosterone, triglycerides, beta-hydroxybutyrate). Accurate monitoring of the nesting stages and breeding success will be done using  a combination of motion sensitive cameras and nest visits.



Barry Robinson (Ph.D.)

I am working to determine the influence of variations in prey abundance on the breeding behavior and foraging ecology of Arctic peregrines falcons. Arctic peregrines feed on a variety of prey including song, shore and marine birds, and small mammals, but little is known about how peregrines select from this assortment of prey as the availability of each prey population fluctuates and how these fluctuations influence breeding performance. My dissertation includes 4 research questions:

  1. Which landscape features do peregrines use to select foraging sites and how do they select from a variety of prey types?
  2. How do variations in different prey assemblages influence breeding behavior and performance?
  3. Does stress induced on the wintering grounds and during spring migration north to the breeding grounds influence breeding behavior and performance.
  4.  Do back-pack style GPS transmitters influence breeding behavior and performance?

Vincent L'Hérault (MSc)

My study aimed to describe variability in diet and to identify links between diet and reproductive success (laying date, clutch size, number hatched and number fledged). Diet composition will be estimated using remote cameras and isotope analysis. Size and location of hunting areas will be described by means of GPS-ARGOS transmitters.

See my Thesis here


Alex Anctil (MSc)

Our capacity to identify vulnerability of species to climate change is limited by the lack of knowledge on the climatic factors which affect populations. To fill this gap, my research combines short-term experiments with long-term data to generalize conclusions over larger spatial scales. The main aim of my research is to examine the effect of poor weather on reproductive success.

See my Thesis here