Austin Xu

Austin Xu

Undergraduate, B.S. Biological Sciences expected

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Concentration

Southern California Ecosystems Research Program Scholar

Since my freshman year at California State University, Fullerton, I have been interested in research pertaining to birds. This is mainly due to my involvement in research with my co-mentor, Dr. William Hoese, since spring of 2013. I participated in various projects in Dr. Hoese’s lab which included:

  • Examining at the effects of anthropogenic noise on bird species
  • Examining Western bluebird (Sialia Mexicana) nest composition between different clutches

My time working with Dr. Hoese over the last three years has given me the opportunity to develop my passion for ornithology.

I have been working with both Dr. Zacherl and Dr. Hoese since fall of 2015 as a Southern California Ecosystems Research Program scholar. I wanted to continue conducting research related to birds, but I also wanted to develop a project that involves restoration. That’s when I came to Dr. Zacherl with an idea for a research project that involves looking at how birds use restored oyster beds.

My current project involves looking at bird behavior on restored Ostrea lurida and Zostera marina beds. Orange County Coastkeeper plans to restore these beds in June of 2016 at various sites in Newport Bay, CA. Within each site, there are four different treatments in terms of restoration method. I hypothesize that birds will use areas with combined O. lurida and Z. marina bed restoration more than areas with only one of the two beds, or to unrestored mudflats. This is because these beds provide an ecosystem service by creating a habitat for various organisms to live in and for birds to prey upon. Currently, I am taking bird surveys and focal samples at the sites prior to restoration. This will allow me to see if there is a difference in bird use of the sites, as well as to serve as a comparison to post-restoration surveys.

I am quite fortunate to have both Dr. Zacherl and Dr. Hoese as research mentors for this project! With their help, I was able to turn my idea into a full on independent research project, and I am very thankful for both of them!