Cooper, Nathan W
I am a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist that specializes on the full annual cycle ecology and conservation of migratory birds.
Education And Training
Awards And Honors
Nathan Cooper is a behavioral ecologist and conservation biologist. He studies how migratory birds interact with each other and their environments throughout the annual cycle. His research integrates natural history observations with new technology, quantitative tools, and large-scale field experiments to advance the fundamental understanding of ecology and provide resource managers with the information needed to conserve migratory birds. Cooper collaborates closely with his colleagues at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center and Georgetown University, and with species and habitat managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the Bahamas National Trust.
Cooper is primarily focused on the ecology and conservation of the Kirtland's warbler. He is currently involved in several science- and conservation-based projects with this recently delisted species. Cooper is broadly interested in better understanding each period of the Kirtland's warbler full annual cycle (i.e., wintering, breeding, migration, post-breeding) and how they are linked through seasonal interactions.
By collecting data across the whole annual cycle, his research is quickly moving toward developing a full annual cycle integrated population model, which can be used to better understand year-round population dynamics in Kirtland's warblers and other migratory songbirds. Cooper also has several management-focused projects aimed at reducing conservation reliance and improving population monitoring in Kirtland's warblers. In addition, he recently began a multiyear project that will explore non-lethal methods to control merlin populations to protect the endangered piping plover population in the Great Lakes.
Cooper earned a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife in 2003, a master's degree in biology in 2008, and a doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2014. He first joined the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center as a Ph.D. student in 2008, became a postdoctoral fellow in 2014, and was promoted to research ecologist in 2020. In his spare time, Cooper enjoys spending time with his family, rock climbing, canyoneering, cycling, landscape photography and reading science fiction novels. He lives in Washington, D.C.
- Documenting post-breeding period survival of Kirtland's Warblers to inform a full annual cycle integrated population model awarded by United States Fish and Wildlife Service
- Evaluating methods for non-lethal control of Merlins to protect endangered Piping Plover populations in the Great Lakes Region awarded by United States Fish and Wildlife Service
- Margenau, Eric L., Cooper, Nathan W., Brown, Donald J., Donner, Deahn M., Marra, Peter P., and Ryan, Pat. 2022. "Spatially structured brown-headed cowbird control measures and their effects on Kirtland's warbler long-term population sustainability." Wildlife Research, https://doi.org/10.1071/WR22037. 2022
- Huysman, Allison E., Cooper, Nathan W., Smith, Joseph A., Haig, Susan M., Heath, Susan A., Johnson, Luanne, Olson, Elizabeth, Regan, Kevin, Wilson, Jennifer K., and Marra, Peter P. 2022. "Strong migratory connectivity indicates Willets need subspecies-specific conservation strategies." Ornithological Applications, https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithapp/duac015. 2022
- Murphy, Michael T., Redmond, Lucas J., Dolan, Amy C., Cooper, Nathan W., Shepherdson, Karen, Chutter, Christopher M., and Cancellieri, Sarah. 2022. "Weather and climate change drive annual variation of reproduction by an aerial insectivore." Avian Conservation and Ecology, 17, (2). https://doi.org/10.5751/ACE-02203-170221. 2022
- Powell, Luke L., Metallo, Adam, Jarrett, Crinan, Cooper, Nathan W., Marra, Peter P., McWilliams, Scott R., Bauchinger, Ulf, and Dossman, Bryant C. 2021. "An inexpensive, 3D-printable breast muscle meter for field ornithologists." Journal of Field Ornithology, https://doi.org/10.1111/jofo.12355. 2021
- Heath, Susan A., Wilson, Jennifer K., Smith, Joseph, and Cooper, Nathan W. 2021. "Migration and Wintering Locations of Breeding eastern Willet (Tringa semipalmata semipalmata) in the Western Gulf of Mexico." Waterbirds, 44, (4) 483–491. https://doi.org/10.1675/063.044.0409. 2021
- Skeen, Heather R., Cooper, Nathan W., Hackett, Shannon J., Bates, John M., and Marra, Peter P. 2021. "Repeated sampling of individuals reveals impact of tropical and temperate habitats on microbiota of a migratory bird." Molecular ecology, https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.16170. 2021
- Cooper, Nathan W., Thomas, Mark A., and Marra, Peter P. 2021. "Vertical sexual habitat segregation in a wintering migratory songbird." Ornithology, 138, (1). https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithology/ukaa080. 2021
- Smith, Joseph A. M., Regan, Kevin, Cooper, Nathan W., Johnson, Luanne, Olson, Elizabeth, Green, Ashley, Tash, Jeff, Evers, David C., and Marra, Peter P. 2020. "A green wave of saltmarsh productivity predicts the timing of the annual cycle in a long-distance migratory shorebird." Scientific Reports, 10, (1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77784-7. 2020
- Brunner, Alicia R., Cooper, Nathan W., and Marra, Peter P. 2020. "First known record of Kirtland's Warbler (Setophaga kirtlandii) observed and captured in Jamaica." The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, 132, (3) 746–749. https://doi.org/10.1676/19-137. 2020
- Cooper, Nathan W. and Marra, Peter P. 2020. "Hidden Long-Distance Movements by a Migratory Bird." Current Biology, 30, (20) 4056–4062.e3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2020.07.056. 2020
- Murphy, Michael T., Redmond, Lucas J., Dolan, Amy C., Cooper, Nathan W., Chutter, Christopher M., and Cancellieri, Sarah. 2020. "Population decline of a long‐distance migratory passerine at the edge of its range: nest predation, nest replacement and immigration." Journal of Avian Biology, 51, (6). https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.02286. 2020
- Brlík, Vojtěch, Koleček, Jaroslav, Burgess, Malcolm, Hahn, Steffen, Humple, Diana, Krist, Miloš, Ouwehand, Janne, Weiser, Emily L., Adamík, Peter, Alves, José A., Arlt, Debora, Barišić, Sanja, Becker, Detlef, Belda, Eduardo J., Beran, Václav, Both, Christiaan, Bravo, Susana P., Briedis, Martins, Chutný, Bohumír, Ćiković, Davor, Cooper, Nathan W., Costa, Joana S., Cueto, Víctor R., Emmenegger, Tamara, Fraser, Kevin et al. 2020. "Weak effects of geolocators on small birds: A meta‐analysis controlled for phylogeny and publication bias." Journal of Animal Ecology, 89, (1) 207–220. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12962. 2020
- Cooper, Nathan W., Rushing, Clark S., and Marra, Peter P. 2019. "Reducing the conservation reliance of the endangered Kirtland's warbler through adaptive management." Journal of Wildlife Management, 83, (6) 1297–1305. https://doi.org/10.1002/jwmg.21714. 2019
- Cooper, Nathan W., Ewert, David N., Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr., Helmer, Eileen, and Marra, Peter P. 2019. "Revising the wintering distribution and habitat use of the Kirtland's warbler using playback surveys, citizen scientists, and geolocators." Endangered Species Research, 38 79–89. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00937. 2019
- Cooper, Nathan W., Ewert, David N., Hall, Kimberly R., Rockwell, Sarah M., Currie, Dave, Wunderle, Joseph M., Jr., White, Jennifer D., and Marra, Peter P. 2018. "Resighting data reveal weak connectivity from wintering to breeding grounds in a range-restricted and endangered long-distance migratory passerine." Avian Conservation and Ecology, 13, (1) 9–9. https://doi.org/10.5751/ACE-01159-130109. 2018
- Cooper, Nathan W., Hallworth, Michael T., and Marra, Peter P. 2017. "Light-level geolocation reveals wintering distribution, migration routes, and primary stopover locations of an endangered long-distance migratory songbird." Journal of Avian Biology, 48, (2) 209–219. https://doi.org/10.1111/jav.01096. 2017
- Chutter, Christopher M., Redmond, Lucas J., Cooper, Nathan W., Dolan, Amy C., Duffield, Deborah, and Murphy, Michael T. 2016. "Paternal behaviour in a socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous passerine bird." Behaviour, 153, (4) 443–466. https://doi.org/10.1163/1568539X-00003359. 2016
- Redmond, Lucas J., Murphy, Michael T., Cooper, Nathan W., and O'Reilly, Kathleen M. 2016. "Testosterone secretion in a socially monogamous but sexually promiscuous migratory passerine." General and comparative endocrinology, 228 24–32. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2016.01.012. 2016
- Cooper, Nathan Wands, Sherry, Thomas W., and Marra, Peter P. 2015. "Experimental reduction of winter food decreases body condition and delays migration in a long-distance migratory bird." Ecology, 96, (7) 1933–1942. https://doi.org/10.1890/14-1365.1. 2015
- Cooper, Nathan W., Sherry, Thomas W., and Marra, Peter P. 2014. "Modeling three-dimensional space use and overlap in birds." The Auk, 131, (4) 681–693. https://doi.org/10.1642/AUK-14-17.1. 2014
- Cooper, Nathan W., Thomas, Mark A., Garfinkel, Megan B., Schneider, Katherine L., and Marra, Peter P. 2012. "Comparing the precision, accuracy, and efficiency of branch clipping and sweep netting for sampling arthropods in two Jamaican forest types." Journal of Field Ornithology, 83, (4) 381–390. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1557-9263.2012.00388.x. 2012
- Cooper, Nathan W., Murphy, Michael T., Redmond, Lucas J., and Dolan, Amy C. 2011. "Reproductive correlates of spring arrival date in the Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus." Journal of Ornithology, 152, (1) 143–152. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10336-010-0559-z. 2011
- Cooper, Nathan W., Murphy, Michael T., and Redmond, Lucas J. 2009. "Age- and sex-dependent spring arrival dates of Eastern Kingbirds." Journal of Field Ornithology, 80, (1) 35–41. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1557-9263.2009.00203.x. 2009
- Cooper, Nathan W., Murphy, Michael T., Redmond, Lucas J., and Dolan, Amy C. 2009. "Density-dependent age at first reproduction in the eastern kingbird." Oikos, 118, (3) 413–419. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0706.2008.16997.x. 2009
- National Zoological Park Academic Department