ND-ECI Brown Bag Seminar: Phillip Stepanian


Location: 141 McCourtney Hall

Title: Radar Aero-ecology: Monitoring Aerial Wildlife in a Changing World

Eci Seminar Stepanian

Rapid anthropogenic environmental change has ongoing impacts on wildlife, but quantifying these impacts across large temporal and spatial scales is logistically challenging. These challenges are compounded when considering highly mobile animals that inhabit the airspace (i.e., birds, bats, and insects). Aerial remote sensing by radar networks has provided the capacity to monitor animal movements at continental scales across multiple decades, enabling new insights into long-term trends in animal adaptation to environmental change.


This seminar will be split into three parts. The first will be an interdisciplinary crash course in radar aeroecology by taking a live look at the springtime bird migration occurring over South Bend. We’ll discuss some fundamentals of radar monitoring, have a look at the current weather, and take a guess on when those first-of-spring arrivals will be reaching northern Indiana. The second part will present a radar-based analysis of bat migration over central Texas. Using 22 years of archived radar measurements, we found significant advances in the annual phenology of migratory bats, as well as an increasing propensity for overwintering. The final part will present some preliminary findings on long-term changes in mayfly abundance in Lake Erie and the Upper Mississippi River using radar emergence surveys.