Today we are talking with Dr. Erica Nol of Ontario, Canada about challenges of the arctic-breeding shorebird.  Dr. Nol is a professor at Trent University in Canada.  Her research interests lie in the biology and conservation of shorebirds across many areas in Canada and beyond.  In particular, she studies the impacts of climate change on the habitats and life histories of arctic and subarctic breeding shorebirds.   With typical Canadian modesty, Dr. Nol didn’t mention that she was awarded the prestigious 2020 Miller Award.


  1. Let’s start with the basics.  For someone like me in the tropics, what are some of the arctic and subarctic breeding shorebirds?
  2. What makes them special and different from other species?
  3. Please tell us about your research?

Dr. Nol is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto and a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. She has spent most of her career working at Trent University, with a research program in arctic and boreal ecosystems across Canada. She also has an international reputation for her work on the ecology and conservation of migratory shorebirds and songbirds in the Western Hemisphere. Her dissertation work on American Oystercatchers still stands as the classic study for the species. She and her graduate students have worked at sites across the Canadian Arctic as well as in Georgia, Patagonia, and South Carolina. She is perhaps best known for her long-term field studies of Semipalmated Plovers in northern Manitoba. Her current work examines the effects that warming climates have on arctic and subarctic breeding shorebirds. Dr. Nol has also had a major research focus on forest birds, including examining avian responses to forest fragmentation, forestry practices, and urbanization. Dr. Nol’s publication record includes over 160 peer-reviewed publications, including top-cited work in The AukConservation BiologyEcological ApplicationsJournal of Animal Ecology, and Oecologia.

Dr. Nol has been a fixture in AOS, Society of Canadian Ornithologists (SCO-SOC), and Waterbird Society councils and committees for decades, and served as President of both the SCO-SOC and the Waterbird Society. Dr. Nol was elected as a Fellow of AOS in 2001, and she currently serves on AOS Council. Her service to the ornithological community also includes helping to develop national and international shorebird conservation plans and establishing the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Research Group. Dr. Nol’s legacy includes maintaining a large and productive lab, where she has mentored more than 60 graduate students who are now working in a diversity of fields in ecology.

For her lifetime contributions to the profession of ornithology and to our knowledge of migratory shorebirds, American Ornithological Society is proud to present the 2020 Loye and Alden Miller Research Award to Dr. Erica Nol.

Dr. Nol’s bio taken from her website

My research interests are in two primary areas. First, I am interested in the biology and conservation of shorebirds. My students and I have worked on plovers and other shorebirds including Whimbrel, Dunlin and Red-necked Phalaropes, in Canada (British Columbia, Ontario, northern Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut), Cuba, Brazil and Venezuela. I have particularly been involved with studies examining the impacts of a warming climate on the habitats and life histories of arctic and sub-arctic breeding shorebirds. I welcome inquiries from potential students who have an interest in this group of birds.

My second research interest is in the conservation of songbirds. My focus has been on studying forest birds and associated habitats impacted by anthropogenic factors such as forest fragmentation, forestry practices and urbanization. My current research in this area is on grassland birds, with an emphasis on the impacts of agricultural practises on Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlarks. Students have also examined the ability of Bank Swallows to reproduce in aggregate pits. My work attempts to understand broadly, how birds and humans can co-exist in settled landscapes.

I have an active and talented group of graduate students. Nearly all have significant ornithological field experience prior to coming to the laboratory. There is a strong environmental ethic among the students.

I welcome inquiries from prospective graduate students, although positions for 2016-2017 are limited.

Summary of research interests

  • Avian conservation biology
  • Avian ecology
  • Forest ecology

My research examines how climate variability impacts arctic shorebird populations. I am also interested in the effects of anthropogenic disturbances on the ecology and conservation of song birds.


  • B.S. (University of Michigan)
  • M.Sc. University of Guelph)
  • Ph.D. (University of Toronto)

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