The Reserve welcomes its first Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship recipient, Marae Lindquist

Thursday, September 24, 2020 - 8:41am

Marae Lindquist, a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, will study two wintering sparrow populations as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Margaret A. Davidson Fellow with the North Carolina Coastal Reserve & National Estuarine Research Reserve. She will focus her research on the impacts of sea level rise on wintering populations of the saltmarsh sparrow (Ammospiza caudacuta) and seaside sparrow (Ammospiza maritima). Saltmarsh sparrows are projected to go extinct by mid-century, so it is critical to understand population limitations in the overwintering habitats of these vulnerable sparrow species. 

Marae will collect field data in the winters of 2021 and 2022 and model sea level rise at four Reserve sites: the Rachel Carson, Masonboro Island, Zeke’s Island, and Bird Island Reserves. By using a combination of mark and recapture and radio telemetry methods she will estimate survival, abundance, and density of saltmarsh and seaside sparrows and characterize their overwintering habitat use in southeastern North Carolina. Marae will also model sea level rise to examine how long-term habitat loss will impact marsh sparrow habitat through 2060. These models and methods will be a valuable framework to assess sea level rise and climate change impacts for other vulnerable marsh species at Reserve sites. 

Marae’s research will provide guidance for resource managers to determine best practices for mapping sea level rise, understand the effects of habitat change on species of interest, and provide mitigation strategy recommendations for vulnerable marsh species. All outcomes will also assist other stakeholders and collaborators, including the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture, and the National Audubon Society, in addition to the Reserve, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and NOAA. She plans to conduct outreach about her work to community groups and K–12 audiences by creating a learning activity and will present her findings at local meetings and national conferences. 

We are excited to have Marae on board to help address such important management needs – welcome!

About Marae Lindquist

Marae Lindquist is a third-year PhD student in the Biology and Marine Biology Department at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Marae has spent the past two field seasons studying saltmarsh and seaside sparrows which provides the basis for the research that she will be conducted through the Margaret A. Davidson Fellowship. When not researching the cutest birds in the world she is searching for other birds! Read more about her research on her website.

About the Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship Program 

The Margaret A. Davidson Graduate Fellowship provides funding to graduate students to conduct estuarine research within one of the 29 reserves in NOAA’s National Estuarine Research Reserve System.  Fellows address a key coastal management question to help scientists and communities understand coastal challenges that may influence future policy and management strategies.

Each Fellow develops a meaningful cross-discipline research project in conjunction with scientists, community leaders, and other organizations. They engage in networking opportunities with Fellows at other Reserves, plus other professionals across the reserve system, NOAA, and community partners. Davidson Fellows receive professional guidance and mentoring in a variety of disciplines, including facilitation and communication, and they facilitate the development of research partnerships between universities and the Reserve.

Honoring the legacy of leadership and service to coastal communities modeled by Margaret Adelia Davidson in her over 30 years at NOAA, the overarching goal of the Davidson Graduate Fellowship program is to help train the next generation of coastal managers.


Photos: Evangelyn Buckland (top), Rebakkah LaBlue (left)