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News and events

News & events

Team Warbler awarded grant from Dominion Foundation

April 25, 2017

VCU’s Team Warbler, led by Dr. Catherine Viverette, Center for Environmental Studies (CES), Dr. Lesley Bulluck, CES and Department of Biology, and Dr. Ed Crawford, CES and the VCU Rice Rivers Center, is one of the recipients of this year’s Dominion Foundation environmental stewardship grant.  More than 100 organizations share $1.2 million in funding, with Team Warbler receiving $40,000 towards building a SMARTBirdHouse.

Prothonotary Warblers (PROW) are a migratory bird that has experienced population declines due to habitat loss.  SMARTBirdHouses have the potential to provide ecological and environmental data to track timing or events such as nest initiation, which can be a particularly sensitive indicator of climate change.

In addition, Team Warbler will work with Wyatt Carpenter (M.S. ENVS, 2017) in VCU’s Office of Sustainability to investigate the feasibility of adopting a forest carbon offset program in the Richmond region. Increasing tree canopy can improve local air and water quality while also restoring habitat for migratory birds. 

During the academic year, VCU Engineering students will design and test SMARTBirdHouses using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology which has the potential to track individual birds, record environmental data, capture sounds and images, and transmit data remotely using cell technology. In summer 2017, VCU Environmental Studies and Biology students will deploy RFID tags on PROW at Deep Bottom Park in Henrico County and in 2018 deploy and test SMARTBirdHouse prototypes.

In fall 2017 students in a new Urban Ecosystems course will develop spatial data layers, reports, and assessment tools to model future carbon sequestration through investment in planting trees. In spring 2018 students in Panama Avian Ecology will use the assessment tools to estimate Team Warbler’s carbon footprint, develop a strategic plan to mitigate carbon emissions, and participate in tree planting programs with community partners in Richmond and Panama.

Final products (spatial data layers, reports, assessment tools, DIY instructions for building SMARTBirdHouses) will be made available through a variety of social media platforms.


To learn more about Prothonotary Warbers, visit here.

To view the Dominion Foundation release, visit here

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