Scientists & Staff

David King

Research Wildlife Biologist
201 Holdsworth NRC, Univ. of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA, 01003-9285
Phone: 413-545-6795

Contact David King

Current Research

Current studies include the effects of habitat restoration on breeding prairie warblers, habitat-specific abundance and survival of wintering migrant songbirds in the Caribbean, Honduras and Belize, identifying area thresholds for breeding shrubland birds and native bees in gaps, migratory movements and stopover ecology of songbirds in the Gulf of Maine, forecasting the effects of climate change on spruce-fir birds, the effects of urbanization on forest birds, and developing market-based approaches for forest conservation in Latin America.

Research Interests

My interests are in applied conservation research, including the effects of forest management, climate change, urbanization, habitat restoration and agroforestry on Neotropical migrants during breeding, migration and stopover, with an emphasis on full life cycle conservation. This multidisciplinary approach combines ecology, ornithology and conservation biology with advanced sampling, statistical and modeling techniques to evaluate the relationship between habitat conditions and stressors with the abundance and fitness of birds and other organisms.

Past Research

I have worked on the effects of forest management on mature forest birds, the ecology of shrubland birds in silvicultural openings, powerline corridors, beaver meadows and pitch pine-scrub oak barrens, the winter ecology of the endangered golden-cheeked and golden-winged warblers, habitat selection and habitat-specific survival of mature forest birds during the postfledging period, the value of agroforestry habitats for the conservation of wintering migrant songbirds, and the effects of habitat management on native bees.

Why This Research is Important

Americans care for wildlife and wild places, and birds are a conspicuous component of our wildlife resource that attracts millions of bird watching enthusiasts annually. Many bird species are declining and require habitat management for their numbers to persist. This is particularly true of disturbance dependent species, the focus of much of my research. These populations are vulnerable at all stages of the annual cycle, and thus, my research includes study of the habitats needed for breeding, migration and over wintering. My research provides the knowledge and tools required by managers to conserve these species and the habitats they require.


  • University of Massachusetts,Amherst, Ph.D. Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation/Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (joint degree), 1999
  • University of Massachusetts,Amherst, M.S. Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation, 1995
  • Humboldt State University,Arcata, B.S. Wildlife Management, 1989

Professional Organizations

  • American Ornithologists' Union
  • The Wildlife Society

Featured Publications & Products

Publications & Products

National Research Highlights

An image of a small diversified farm in Amherst, Mass., showing a mixture of crops along with fallow areas, hedgerows and trees, habitat features that if maintained and enhanced, will support priority bird species;  An image of a common yellowthroat, a bird that is frequently encountered on small diversified farms. Common yellowthroats are declining in many parts of their range, and are insectivorous on the breeding season.

Bird conservation and ecosystem services on small diversified farms

Year: 2017

Small diversified farms in the northeast represent an increasing sector of the nation's agriculture. These farms encompass semi-natural habitats that can contribute to bird conservation. Forest Service scientists are gathering information on bird use of these sites for the benefit of birds and farmers.

Wood thrush nests were monitored to gauge reproduction on managed forests. Melanie Klein, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Enhancing Songbird Populations in Eastern Forests with Forest Management

Year: 2016

Many forest bird populations are declining. Can forestry actually enhance habitat quality for these species? Forest Service scientists at the agency’s Northern Research Station conduct a study to answer this question.

Forest Service research assistant Carlos Delgado holds a golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). These warblers breed in the U.S. and winter in Latin America. David King, USDA Forest Service

Saving Tropical Forests for Migrant Birds

Year: 2013

Most northeastern and midwestern songbirds migrate to spend the winter in the tropics, where much of their habitat is threatened by clearing and conversion to agriculture. Funding for conserving tropical forests is scarce, so developing market-based incentives to conserve habitat is key. Forest Service scientists have developed strategies and techniques such as solar-thermal coffee driers that eliminate the need for cutting firewood to dry coffee and integrated open canopy coffee farming that links higher yields to forest conservation.

Shrubland Birds and Their Habitats

Year: 2010

Shrubland birds, such as prairie warblers and field sparrows require constant habitat management, and thus, reliable and specific knowledge to guide management efforts is urgently needed. NRS researchers David King and Mariko Yamasaki have been providing expert advice based on their research for state and federal land managers as well as private individuals, in both formal and informal settings.

Last modified: Monday, March 3, 2014