Postcards: Laura Schoenle arrives in Ontario for field season

April 8, 2015

“Hi! I just arrived at the Queen’s University Biological Station (QUBS) in Elgin, Ontario, and while we’re still in the midst of winter up here, the migratory birds are already returning. My personal favorite is the red-winged blackbird, and they are singing right now, even as the snow falls…

My research focuses on the role of hormones in shaping how birds cope with disease.  I have two exciting experiments planned for this summer, and each will become chapters in my Ph.D. dissertation. In the photo to the right, you can see me with the aviaries I am currently setting up for my experiments.

Ontario is ideal for my research because of the high prevalence of focal pathogens: the mosquito-transmitted Haemoproteus and Plasmodium blood parasites that cause avian malaria. In my study population of red-winged blackbirds, about 90% of adult birds are infected with malaria parasites. 

I’m anxious for the season to get rolling. Before I go, here’s a photo of a tree sparrow, quietly waiting for the snow to stop, and a few shots of my “home base” for this summer. Thought you’d like to see what I’m up to…

—All the best, Laura Schoenle