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Overview


Jonathan Rader

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Overview


Jonathan Rader

It is the tension between creativity and skepticism...                      -Carl Sagan

” 

 
Isotopic niche widths of Cinclodes ovenbirds.  Figure from Rader et al. 2016.

Isotopic niche widths of Cinclodes ovenbirds.  Figure from Rader et al. 2016.

Research 

Biomechanics, morphology, ecology, and stable isotopes

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Teaching

Click here to learn more about my teaching efforts.

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My 1/20th scale model of the "Sue" specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex.

My 1/20th scale model of the "Sue" specimen of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Art

Sculpture, painting, and photography

View my portfolio

 

I am from the perpetually beautiful, occasionally desolate, and frequently harsh place called Wyoming. I spent much of my early life biking in the prairie, hiking in the mountains, and taking the natural world around me somewhat for granted. Somewhere around middle school, I discovered that dinosaurs were more interesting in real life than they were in picture books, and that steered me toward a career in science.

Sunset over the Snowy Range in southeastern Wyoming, as viewed from Laramie, WY.

Sunset over the Snowy Range in southeastern Wyoming, as viewed from Laramie, WY.

Carl Sagan wrote that, "Finding out the way the world really works requires a mix of hunches, intuition, and brilliant creativity; it also requires skeptical scrutiny of every step." I like to think of myself as a creative person, and I endeavor to bring that creativity into my study of how animals have adapted to the challenges that their lives present to them. As for the second part of the quote, regarding skeptical scrutiny, I am still in training. I will use this website to document the process.

 

- Quotes from Carl Sagan, 1986. Skeptical Inquirer, Volume 10.3.

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Research


Research


Research

 

Biomechanics

Flight performance of Turkey Vultures

University of North Carolina

Chapel Hill, NC

A turkey vulture doing what they usually do... gliding lazily.  This one happened to be in Chapel Hill, NC.

A turkey vulture doing what they usually do... gliding lazily.  This one happened to be in Chapel Hill, NC.

Stable Isotope Ecology

Isotopic niches of Cinclodes ovenbirds

University of Wyoming

Laramie, WY

A somewhat damp looking Cinclodes nigrofumosus. This species lives exclusively in intertidal zones in Chile. Photo by Pablo Sabat.

A somewhat damp looking Cinclodes nigrofumosus. This species lives exclusively in intertidal zones in Chile. Photo by Pablo Sabat.

Morphological Evolution

Ecomorphology of Cinclodes ovenbirds

University of Wyoming

Laramie, WY

I am interested in the mechanics, physiology, and ecological consequences of animal movement, and in the interplay between ecology and animal performance.  I enjoy projects that draw from multiple disciplines (morphology, biomechanics, stable isotope ecology, etc.), and feel strongly that such multifaceted datasets are powerful tools with which to approach these questions.  I have a somewhat wandering focus, but my work has generally centered on form-function relationships and niche evolution in birds. 

Most recently, I have been 3-D tracking free-flying turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) across an elevation gradient to investigate how the birds compensate for lower density air at high elevation, and how they respond to variable wind conditions.  This work is still progressing, but the early cliff note seems to be that birds flying at high elevation maintain higher airspeeds than their low-elevation counterparts.

I have also studied morphological evolution in a lineage of South American birds called Cinclodes, and showed that despite being physiologically and ecologically diverse, the species of Cinclodes are morphologically quite similar to each other.  I also used stable isotope analysis to investigate niche evolution in Cinclodes, and found the species that inhabit broader ranges also consumed more diverse resources.  This result provides support for the Resource Breadth Hypothesis, and may be the first application of stable isotope analysis to address a macroecological question.

 

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Education


Education


Education

 

Current

Ph. D. Student

Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

ADvisor: Tyson Hedrick

 

2014

Master of Science

Zoology and Physiology 

University of Wyoming

Advisors: Carlos Martinez del Rio and Michael Dillon

 

2009

Bachelor of Science

Major: Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Minor: Geology 

University of Wyoming

Undergraduate research ADVISOR: Brent Breithaupt

 
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Publications


Publications


Publications

 
 

Published Abstracts

Rader, J. A. and T. L. Hedrick. 2016. Behavioral compensation for decreased air density in turkey vultures. SICB Annual Meeting 2016: Portland, OR.

Rader, J. A., M.E. Dillon and C. Martínez del Rio. 2015. Isotopic niches are not conservative and confirm Brown's resource breadth hypothesis.  SICB Annual Meeting 2015: Palm Beach, FL.

Rader, J. A., M. E. Dillon and C. Martínez del Rio.  2014.  Delineating ecological niches and their evolution from stable isotopes and museum specimens.  SICB Annual Meeting 2014: Austin, TX.

Rader, J. A., S. D. Newsome and C. Martínez del Rio.  2013.  Phenotype-environment correlations inCinclodes ovenbirds: Linking morphology to isotopic niche. SICB Annual Meeting 2013: San Francisco, CA.

Rader, J. A., S. D. Newsome and C. Martínez del Rio.  2012.  Exploring phenotype-environment correlations in South American Cinclodes ovenbirds Part 1: Characterizing the isotopic niche.  NAOC-V 2012: Vancouver, B.C.

Rader, J. A., S. D. Newsome and C. Martínez del Rio.  2012.  Of Isotopes and Ovenbirds: Seeking phenotype-environment correlations in South American Cinclodes ovenbirds.  SICB Annual Meeting 2012: Charleston, SC.

Rader, J. A. and B. Breithaupt.  2009.  An evaluation of methods for estimating the body mass of large animals with reference to Apatosaurus excelsus.  Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology:  Vol. 29, No. 3 suppl.

Rader, J. A. and B. Breithaupt.  2008.  Mass Estimates for Apatosaurus excelsus: A comparison of modeling methods.  Undergraduate Research Day 2008, University of Wyoming: Laramie, WY.

 

 
 
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Other Interests


Other Interests


There's more to life...

 

Sculpting

A 1/20th scale model of the Jurassic age Ceratosaurus that I sculpted.

A 1/20th scale model of the Jurassic age Ceratosaurus that I sculpted.

Painting

View of the Tetons from across Jenny Lake. Oil on canvas.

View of the Tetons from across Jenny Lake. Oil on canvas.

The Datsun

...in all her glory.

...in all her glory.

In addition to my professional life, I have hobbies.  Probably too many of them, if I'm honest. That said, my hobbies make me happy, so I'm not giving them up!  

I enjoy a fair amount of time biking on the roads and trails of North Carolina, though I must confess... I miss the mountain bike trails in Wyoming! I especially love the challenge of a long, steep mountain road.

My trusty friend for many long, desolate miles of Wyoming road.

My trusty friend for many long, desolate miles of Wyoming road.

I mentioned earlier that I like to think of myself as being a creative person. I have been running a freelance sculpture business for a while. My goal is to use whatever scientific resources that I can find to reconstruct prehistoric animals with a reasonable amount of accuracy. 

I also dabble in painting. I am an absolutely rank-amateur, but what the hell, it's fun.

Finally, and when I'm not doing any of the above, you can probably find me turning a wrench on my old Datsun.