Undergraduate Researcher Natalie Amodei Awarded Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid-of-Research

Congratulations to the Powers Lab’s own Natalie Amodei who was awarded a Sigma Xi Grant-in-Aid-of-Research for her proposal entitled “Can hummingbirds upregulate evaporative heat dissipation during hovering to compensate for loss of passive heat transfer at high temperatures?” Natalie will use the grant to help fund her research in Arizona this summer.

Natalie assembling an open-flow respirometry system.

Powers Lab Part of New Study on Hummingbird Hovering Allometry and Efficiency

Today the Royal Society Proceedings B published a study on hovering metabolic rate allometry and efficiency in hummingbirds that was done in collaboration with the Powers Lab. lead author on the study was Dr. Derrick Groom, who at the time was a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Ken Welch. Full text of the paper can be found at:


Two New Undergraduate Researchers Join the Powers Lab!!

Two new undergraduate researchers, Natalie Amodei and Sarah Thompson, have joined the Powers Lab for the coming year. Both are funded by the George Fox University (GFU) Richter Scholar Program.

Natalie Amodei is a sophomore biology major from Corvallis, OR, and is also part of the GFU Honors Program. Her core project in the lab will be to continue experiments attempting to measure total evaporative heat dissipation during hovering in hummingbirds. Natalie will spend the balance of the Spring semester working out the kinks in her protocol before heading off to test it on calliope hummingbirds in Dr. Bret Tobalske’s lab at the University of Montana. After that Natalie will head to the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in the Chiricahua Mts of SE Arizona to collect data on blue-throated, Rivoli’s, and black-chinned hummingbirds.

Natalie Amodei

Sarah Thompson is a sophomore biology major from Ewa Beach, HI. Her core project will be a test of the long standing assumption that hummingbirds engage in hyperphagia just prior to roosting to fill their crop with nectar to fuel a portion of their nighttime metabolism. The idea that hummingbirds engage in hyperphagia was first proposed by the late Dr. Bill Calder in a 1990 study of broad-tailed hummingbirds. Sarah will spend the Spring semester developing her protocol which will involve directly weighing hummingbirds that come to feeders. In June Sarah will travel to SWRS to study mass management in both male and females of three hummingbirds at the research station. Welcome Sarah!!

Sarah Thompson

Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Meeting – San Francisco, CA

The Powers Lab began 2018 with their annual trip to the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB) meeting in San Francisco, CA (January 3-7). Traveling to the meeting to present their research data were Don Powers along with undergraduate researchers Isabelle Hoyven Cisnaros and Kaheela Reid. Don presented the lab’s continuing work on heat dissipation by hovering hummingbirds at high environmental temperature. Both students also presented with Isabelle presenting her work on nighttime body temperature management by hummingbirds and Kaheela presenting her work on how hummingbirds might dissipate heat from their bills. Lab collaborators Bret Tobalske (University of Montana), Anusha Shankar (Stony Brook University) and Jeff Yap (Simon Fraser University) were also at the meeting and made presentations. Anusha presented some additional data on hummingbird nighttime body temperature management and Jeff presented our collaborative work in reproductive energetics in zebra finches. In all the lab was involved in five presentations make for a successful meeting!

Collaborator Anusha Shankar starting her talk at SICB.

Don beginning his talk at SICB.

Isabelle and collaborator Anusha Shankar enjoying a night out at SICB!

Always enjoy seeing our friends at Sable Systems at SICB!!

Poster session at SICB!

Isabelle presenting her poster on hummingbird management of nighttime body temperature.

A nice French dinner in San Francisco with collaborator and friend Bret Tobalske!

Kaheela presenting her poster on heat dissipation from hummingbird bills at SICB.

Kaheela and Isabelle waiting for the plenary to start at SICB.

Field Work at the Southwestern Research Station!!

The Powers Lab just wrapped up the 2017 field season at the Southwestern Research Station (SWRS) in the Chiricahua Mountains, SE Arizona.  We were joined this year by Anusha Shankar, who along with research student Isabelle Cisneros, tackled the difficult task of tracking overnight changes in hummingbird body temperature.  Our primary goal in this study was to see if hummingbirds use regulated shallow torpor (hypothermia) as an alternative to deep torpor at night.  The protocol called for the birds to be outside (natural light and temperature cycles) in an open container that would allow them to just leave when they woke up in the morning.   Ultimately we got some great data, but both Anusha and Isabelle the days continually modifying the chambers reducing the large plexiglas box that was originally designed to a small cubical that would place the bird in good filming position.  In the end we got some great data, including one bird that appears to have used regulated shallow torpor!

Research student Kaheela Reid was also with us in Arizona to do experiments measuring the influence of evaporative heat dissipation on resting metabolic rate in hummingbirds.  We ended up have significant system design issues that prevented us from getting any good data, but we will work on this back in the lab and perhaps try again next year.

We are not back in the lab crunching number and preparing for the many we will be doing in the coming months!

Don going over things with Kaheela (photo by Antonella Wilby).

Don giving a seminar at SWRS.

Girls just wanna have fun!

Isabelle and Anusha getting ready to collect data!

Isabelle and Anusha working on data.

Enjoying some fine dinning on a trip to town.

Final iteration of the torpor chamber.

Kaheela feeding a blue-throated hummingbird (photo by Antonella Wilby).

Kaheela releasing a hummingbird.

Anusha showing Kaheela how to hold a hummingbird.

Anusha demonstrating use of the traps to Isabelle.

Black-chinned Hummingbird (photo by Antonella Wilby)

Early iterations of the torpor chambers.

Kaheela working on the open-flow metabolism system.

Isabelle and Anusha making the lab dark for torpor measurements.

Kaheela adjusting the IR camera.

Anusha working on the torpor chambers.

Lab building at SWRS.

Isabelle and Kaheela setting up our feeders at SWRS.