Mice and Birds Project: Interactions between deer mice and sagebrush-obligate songbirds

We are experimentally investigating the direct (predation of offspring) and indirect (competition for food) effects of deer mice on sagebrush-obligate songbirds in relation to energy development and whether predator removal could be a viable management solution for bird conservation in a sagebrush steppe ecosystem. Our research will focus on changes within the wildlife community as a result of deer mouse removal, and particularly, the associated effects on songbird nesting success. This work is being conducted on the Pinedale Anticline Project Area in Sublette  county, Wyoming beginning in 2018.


Ashleigh Rhea
Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Department of Zoology and Physiology
University of Wyoming
Dept. 3166, 1000 E. University Avenue
Laramie, WY 82070
[email protected]

Project Lead

Ashleigh is a master’s student ¬†at the University of Wyoming, based in the WY Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Originally from Montana, she considers herself a true Wyomingite after graduating from the University of Wyoming with her BSc in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology and Management in 2018. During her undergrad, Ashleigh worked catching dark-eyed juncos outside of Teton National Park, investigating grassland birds and cattle grazing systems, and on the Wyoming Range Mule Deer project.

Ashleigh’s research will focus on understanding how energy development alters trophic dynamics and species interactions between sagebrush-obligate songbirds and deer mice. This project will address whether nest predation by deer mice is additive or compensatory mortality and investigate the indirect effects of deer mouse competition/predation on songbird nesting success.

During her free time Ashleigh enjoys birding (of course!), fly fishing, cross country skiing, and hiking with her favorite adventure friend, Penny the pup.

Funding & Partners

UW Academic Affairs Energy GA

Laramie Audubon Society

Meg & Bert Raynes Wildlife Fund

Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition Grant

Kelly Ornithological Fund