ESPM 3011W Environmental Ethics in Natural Resources
ESPM 5480 Topics in Natural Resources – Driven to Discover
ESPM 5480 Topics in Natural Resources – North American Monarch Institutes
My research interests in conservation biology focus on how land use affects bird communities. While many conservation biologists choose to concentrate on pristine habitat islands and endangered species, I prefer to focus on the "unswimmable ocean" of the human-dominated landscape. My research has centered on the changes that occur to native birds as sites become progressively more developed. Most recently, my students have worked on how the supposedly hard-to-reintroduce wild turkey is thriving in urban areas, how hornbills are using the working landscape of a proposed wildlife corridor in Thailand, and why some commercial buildings are more prone to bird-building collisions than others.
My outreach efforts in science and environmental education center on three programs with three different audiences: Minnesota Master Naturalist, Driven to Discover, and the Minnesota Bee Atlas.
Minnesota Master Naturalist is a volunteer program that teaches adults about Minnesota's natural resources, empowers them to educate others, and provides opportunities to do conservation projects. The mission of the program is to promote awareness, understanding, and stewardship of Minnesota's natural environment by developing a corps of well-informed citizens dedicated to conservation education and service within their communities.
Driven to Discover is a project that seeks to expand the reach of Citizen Science for middle- and high-school youth. Typically, citizen science involves the general public in collecting data that can be analyzed and interpreted by professional scientists. This project carries citizen science a step further, enabling youth to design, carry out, and even report on their own research questions under the mentorship of youth group leaders (e.g 4-H, Girl Scouts, Nature Clubs) and teachers supported by the D2D team at the University.
The Minnesota Bee Atlas is a citizen-science project that is mapping bee distributions in Minnesota. Volunteers can either 1) report incidental sightings of bees via iNaturalist, 2) conduct intense transect surveys for bumblebees or 3) assist by setting out bee blocks and reporting on the stem-nesting bees that occupy the blocks over the summer.
Ecology of human-dominated landscapes, birds as indicators of ecological integrity, conservation of native species, environmental education.
Pavlik, D.T., E. Fleishman, R.D. Scherer. In Press. Environmental associations with post-fire butterfly occupancy in the Sierra Nevada, California. Natural Areas Journal.
Koomen, M., S. Weaver, R.B. Blair and K. Oberhauser. 2016. Disciplinary Literacy in the Science Classroom: Using Adaptive Primary Literature. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 53(6):847–894.
Homayoun, T. Z., & Blair, R. B. 2015. Value of park reserves to migrating and breeding landbirds in an urban important bird area. Urban Ecosystems, 1-18.
Loss, S.R. and R.B. Blair. 2014. Earthworm invasions and the decline of clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.) that enhance nest survival rates of a ground-nesting songbird. Forest Ecology and Management. 324:64-71.
Loss, S., G.J. Niemi, and R.B. Blair. 2012. Invasions of non-native earthworms related to population declines of ground-nesting songbirds across a regional extent in northern hardwood forests of North America. Landscape Ecology. 27(5):683-696.