marine organism-environment interaction


Eric Tymstra is a PhD student in the Graduate Group in Ecology. Before coming to Davis, Eric worked for UC-Santa Cruz in the Sierra Foothills monitoring bird populations as part of an effort to map the spread and virulence of West Nile Virus. He also worked as a part of UC-Berkeley's Black Rail Project. Eric's interests lie in sensory and foraging ecology of birds of prey, especially vultures - a misunderstood yet vitally important species. Eric is particularly interested in how Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) forage using both their sense of smell and visual cues (multimodal foraging).


BS Molecular Environmental Biology: Animal Health and Behavior; University of California, Berkeley (2014)

Research Interests

While I am still determining the details of my dissertation, I am generally interested in the role of olfaction in New World vulture foraging ecology. Though it is understood that these birds have a developed sense of smell, little is known about how this sense plays in to their foraging behavior. Vultures serve important ecological functions. Creating a study population in order to determine the minutia of their foraging behavior can have implications in many fields. Understanding how these birds rely on one another and the extent of their social network foraging may reveal implications for the spread of disease. While studying C. aura, I hope to apply my research findings to the foraging ecology of closely related species, including the California Condor (Gymnogyps californianus). 


About Eric Tymstra