Emily A. Nastase

Graduate Student | Department of Applied Ecology | North Carolina State University

2022 - 2023 Global Change Fellow

Statement of purpose:

I earned my B.S. in Biology and B.F.A. in Scientific Illustration from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. As an undergrad student, I participated in a study abroad program in Panama where we studied the ecology and migratory connectivity of warbler species. That trip opened my eyes to the severe habitat loss and landscape changes in the tropics caused by climate change and anthropogenic threats. Ever since that experience, I knew I would become a research ecologist so I could solve ecological challenges. After graduating, I worked as a Science Communicator at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science before starting a graduate program at NCSU. 

I am currently a PhD student in the department of Applied Ecology, where I am studying the ecology, distribution, and population genetics of the Henslow’s Sparrow in North Carolina. I hope that my research will improve Henslow’s populations throughout their range, as well as fill critical knowledge gaps we have about the species. After completing this program, I plan to aid in the conservation of threatened landscapes and vulnerable species by developing spatial models of natural resources and species’ distributions.

Description of research:

The Henslow’s Sparrow is a grassland specialist, migratory songbird with a rapidly declining habitat range due to habitat loss and climate change. The species is a conservation priority in North Carolina due to its limited presence within the state and declining populations throughout the rest of its range. I am addressing four research objectives designed to evaluate Henslow’s Sparrow species redundancy, representativeness, and resiliency in North Carolina. To accomplish my goals, I capture and tag sparrows with radio-transmitters, collect blood samples, conduct distance point counts, spot-mapping surveys, nest-searches, and collect data on vegetation structure at the site. The findings of my research will help state and federal conservation agencies identify appropriate conservation and management measures to promote the persistence of the Henslow’s Sparrow in North Carolina.

Contact Information:

Email: eanastas@ncsu.edu

Faculty Advisor:

Jaime Collazo (Department of Applied Ecology, NCSU)