Steven L. Van Wilgenburg

Wildlife Technician - Ecology and Conservation of Migratory Birds
Environment and Climate Change Canada

Current research and/or projects

Contributing to Environment Canada’s mandate to ensure wildlife is conserved and protected

  • Effects of forest management and other human induced habitat disturbances on boreal forest birds
  • Factors influencing abundance, distribution and persistence of Species at Risk (Rusty Blackbird, Golden-winged Warbler)
  • Connectivity between breeding and wintering populations of migratory populations

Professional activities / interests

Scientific support for the Forest Bird program (Research scientist: Keith Hobson)

Subject Editor fo Avian Conservation and Ecology

Member, Technical Committee for National Boreal Bird-Habitat Modelling Project

Peer reviewer for several ecological and ornithological scientific journals, as well as occasional other reviews (e.g., forest management plans and environmental impact assessments)

Advice, review and analysis of avian monitoring activities for the Saskatchewan Forest Effects Monitoring Program and Riding Mountain National Park

Education and awards

Prairie and Northern Region Appreciation Award for contribution to the Western Boreal Conservation Initiative 2004 (Environment Canada)

M.Sc., University of Saskatchewan 2007

B.Sc. Environmental Science, University of Lethbridge, 1996; Diploma in Environmental Science, Lethbridge College 1994

Key publications

Gunnarson, G., N. Latorre-Margalef, S.L. Van Wilgenburg, K.A. Hobson, J. Waldenström, J. Elmberg, and B. Olsen. 2012. Disease dynamics and bird migration – linking Mallards Anas platyrhynchos and influenza A virus in time and space. PLoS One 7(4):e35679. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035679

Hobson, K.A., S.L. Van Wilgenburg, L.I. Wassenaar, and K. Larson. 2012. Linking hydrogen (δ2H) isotopes in feathers and precipitation: Sources of variance and consequences for assignment to isoscapes. PLoS One 7(4): e35137. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035137.

Van Wilgenburg, S.L., K. A. Hobson., K.R. Brewster, and J.M. Welker. 2012. Assessing dispersal in a threatened migratory birds using stable-hydrogen isotope (δD) analysis of feathers. Endangered Species Research 16:17-29.

Kardynal, K., J.L. Morissette, S.L. Van Wilgenburg, E.M. Bayne, and K.A. Hobson. 2011. Avian responses to experimental harvest in southern boreal mixedwood shoreline forests: Implications for riparian buffer management. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 41: 2375-2388.

Van Wilgenburg, S.L., and  K.A. Hobson. 2011. Combining stable-isotope (δD) and band recovery data to improve probabilistic assignment of migratory birds to origin. Ecological Applications 21: 1340-1351. [doi:10.1890/09-2047.1].

Hobson, K.A., R. Greenberg, S.L. Van Wilgenburg,  and C. Mettke-Hoffman. 2010. Migratory connectivity in the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) in North America: isotopic evidence from feathers of historical and contemporary specimens. Condor 112:778-788.

Ashley, P., K.A. Hobson, S.L. Van Wilgenburg, N. North, and S. Petrie. 2010. Linking Canadian harvested American Black Ducks to their natal areas using stable isotope analysis of δD, δ13C, and δ15N. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 5: 7. [online] URL:

Hobson, K.A., M.B. Wunder, S.L. Van Wilgenburg, R.G. Clark, and L.I. Wassenaar. 2009. A method for investigating population declines of migratory birds using stable isotopes: origins of harvested lesser scaup in North America. PLoS ONE 4(11): e7915. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0007915

Vallender, R., S.L. Van Wilgenburg,  L.P. Bulluck, A.M. Roth, R.A. Canterbury, J. Larkin,  R.M. Fowlds, and I.J. Lovette. 2009. Extensive rangewide mitochondrial introgression indicates substantial cryptic hybridization in the Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 4(2): 4. [online] URL:

Hobson, K.A., S.M. DeMente, S.L. Van Wilgenburg,  and L.I. Wassenaar. 2009. Potential molt origins of American Kestrels at two southern U.S. sites: an investigation using stable isotope (δD, δ18O) methods. Journal of Raptor Research 43: 325-337.

Hobson, K.A., H. Lormée, S.L. Van Wilgenburg,  L.I. Wassenaar, and J.M. Boutin. 2009. Stable isotopes (δD) delineate origins and migratory connectivity in harvested animals: an example using European woodpigeons. Journal of Applied Ecology 46: 572-581.

Hobson, K.A., S.L. Van Wilgenburg,  K. Larson, and L.I. Wassenaar. 2009. A feather hydrogen isoscape for Mexico. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 102: 167-174.

Wassenaar, L.I., S.L. Van Wilgenburg, K. Larson and K.A. Hobson. 2009. A Groundwater Isoscape (δD, δ18O) for Mexico. Journal of Geochemical Exploration 102: 123-136.

Kardynal, K., K.A. Hobson, S.L. Van Wilgenburg and J.L. Morissette. 2009. Moving riparian management guidelines towards a natural disturbance model: an example using boreal riparian bird communities. Forest Ecology and Management 257: 54-65.

Van Wilgenburg, S.L. and K.A. Hobson. 2008. Landscape-scale disturbance and boreal forest birds: Can large single-pass harvest approximate fires? Forest Ecology and Management 256: 136-146.

Machtans, C.S., S.L. Van Wilgenburg, L.A. Armer and K.A. Hobson. 2007. Retrospective comparison of the occurrence and abundance of Rusty Blackbird in the Mackenzie Valley, Northwest Territories. Avian Conservation and Ecology - Écologie et conservation des oiseaux 2(1): 3.[online] URL: