Marlene began her career as a field-based ornithologist, assisting with studies on bird species including Pacific Wren, Spotted Owl, American Dipper, Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Great Slaty Woodpecker, and Aleutian Cackling Geese. She then became interested in fish, and worked mapping salmon habitat and sampling commercial fish and crab boats for federal and state agencies in Alaska. She later earned her Master’s Degree researching habitat selection by Red-breasted Sapsucker in old-growth forests of Southeast Alaska.
As a PhD candidate in in the Department of Biological Sciences at SFU, Marlene combines her two favourite taxa by studying avian community responses to salmon-derived nutrients along the central coast of British Columbia. Previous work in the Pacific Northwest suggests that songbirds (birds that do not eat salmon or their eggs) attain higher densities in forests along streams with salmon. Her research explores hypotheses regarding this phenomenon by examining food webs, reproductive success, and body condition of songbirds along a wide gradient of salmon-spawning biomass. With collaboration from the Heiltsuk First Nation and DFO, this work will broaden our understanding of the potentially far-reaching impacts of salmon on terrestrial systems.