Jill Deppe

Senior Director, Migratory Bird Initiative

In 2018, Dr. Jill Deppe joined the National Audubon Society to launch its Migratory Bird Initiative. As its Senior Director, Jill leads efforts to synthesize spatial science from across the Western Hemisphere and full annual cycle, with an emphasis on the migratory period. The Initiative’s mission: use science to shape conservation actions at scale, engage bird enthusiasts and mobilize them to promote the safety of birds in their communities, and support bird- and environment-friendly public policy.

Jill has two decades of experience studying the migration ecology of birds, with a primary focus on Mexico and Cuba, to understand how changing land cover/land use, habitat quality and atmospheric conditions impact their migratory movements, stopover ecology and survival. These results have provided the basis for science-based conservation solutions, such as the identification of critical habitat for migratory songbirds and coastal restoration around the Gulf of Mexico.

Jill’s migration research began as a Ph.D. student at the University of California Riverside, where she studied the stopover ecology of songbirds in the Yucatan Peninsula through an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. From 2006 – 2008, she held a NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship to model continental movements of migratory shorebirds in North America and explore the impacts of dynamic land surface conditions on migration routes, energetic condition, migration speed and future fitness via carry-over effects. In 2008, Jill joined the Illinois Natural History Survey, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she continued her research on migration in the Gulf of Mexico and also studied stopover ecology and landscape movements of plovers in relation to agricultural land management practices. From 2011-2018, Jill served on the research faculty at Eastern Illinois University, where she was an Associate Professor of Biology prior to joining Audubon. Throughout her career she has been a strong advocate of outreach, capacity building and integration of local communities in Mexico in her research projects.

At Audubon, Jill manages a diverse and talented team of spatial analysts and migration ecologists. She and her team work with staff throughout National Audubon in  Conservation Science, Geospatial Science, International Alliances Program, Network, Policy, Content, Communications and Development teams, as well as the Audubon network of chapters and state offices. She also works closely with partners in non-profit organizations, academic institutions and government agencies across the Western Hemisphere to collectively advance bird conservation.

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