Eric L. Walters

Assistant Professor

Department of Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University




Potential Projects

We have a variety of projects on the go:

1. Migrant Stopover Sites

Our research is focused on trying to quantify stopover habitat by migrant birds. Many sites in the mid-Atlantic are used by migrants each fall. We are trying to determine what factors influence stopover use. In some cases it may be the habitat, while in other cases it may be geographic features.

If interested, please contact Chance Hines (an MS student in the Walters Lab)

2. Bird-tick Interactions

We are tracking pathogens transmitted by ticks that parasitize birds. Birds serve as hosts to many species of ticks in Virginia. We are investigating how birds play a role in dispersing ticks and associated pathogens over the landscape.

3. Bird Window Kill Study

Birds that reside in urban settings face numerous human-related threats to survival, including mortality from bird-window collisions. Recent work has demonstrated that the primary drivers of these collisions are the amount of windows in a building and proportion of development in the area around the buildings.

We are testing the hypothesis that the magnitude of window collisions within and among urban areas reflects landscape structure and functional connectivity. Collaboration among numerous sites in North America will allow us to examine the factors believed to influence window collisions, such as structural features of buildings and land use at local and landscape scales. This information is crucial for predicting local and regional mortality, which would focus future conservation efforts aimed at reducing collision-related effects.

4. Seed Dispersal

a) Mistletoe - Mistletoes of eastern North America are only dispersed by birds. We are attempting to understand what factors influence how mistletoe is dispersed.

If interested, please contact Nick Flanders (a PhD student in the Walters Lab)

b) Seed dispersal in the Dominican Republic - many plants in tropical environments are dispersed by frugivorous birds. We are examining the network of seed dispersers. We are also examining how seed dispersers can be used to restore degraded forest habitats.

If interested, please contact Spencer Schubert (a PhD student in the Walters Lab)

5. Zoo Studies

The Walters Lab has been working with the Virginia Zoo for the past 3 years. Students from ODU have worked on a variety of projects including enrichment of squirrel monkeys, habitat designs for ponds, the effect of window tape on bird strikes, the effect of feral cats on zoo exhibits, and a variety of other projects. We highlight some potential projects below.

• What key resources for migratory birds does the zoo grounds have and are there opportunities to enhance key resources?

• Assessment of opportunities to enhance environment and nesting opportunities for target bat species.

• Assessment of opportunities to enhance habitat and nesting opportunities for target bird species.

• Survey turtle species in duck pond, assess opportunities to enhance environment for native reptiles.

• What are the key behavioral indicators of compatibility when new exhibit animals are introduced?

• Does the presence of zoo visitors increase positive welfare criteria for domestic animals (goats) housed in an interactive exhibit in the zoo farm?

• What are the effects of contact between zoo animals and native wildlife and local feral animals?

• Can enrichment enhance visibility and activity of zoo animals in less active species like tapir?

• Comparing natural (vocalizations) to non-natural (music, random sounds) auditory enrichment for certain zoo animals.

• Assessment of several commonly used forms of behavioral enrichment in terms of effectiveness of meeting pre-determined behavioral goals.

Projects can be tailored to individual student interests. Please contact Dr. Walters to discuss these possibilities.

Why is getting research experience so important? And why is it more important than any class you'll take at Old Dominion University? You can find the answers to these questions by visiting my Primer On Getting Into Graduate School site.

Eric L. Walters 2017 All rights reserved.