Tara holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science in Biology from Acadia University. Under the supervision of Dr. Tom Herman and Dr. Steve Mockford, her research focused on the ecology of the Eastern Ribbonsnake, a threatened species in Nova Scotia. The project documented movements and habitat use of the snake in highly disturbed and pristine lakeshore wetlands. This project provided valuable information for conservation efforts in Canada and the US. Tara was also involved with nest monitoring for the endangered Blanding’s turtle in Nova Scotia.

In 2008, Tara was contracted by WPC to conduct a telemetry study on juvenile, captive-reared Eastern Loggerhead Shrikes from the field propagation and release site in Carden Plain, Ontario. This study provided insight into the survival, dispersal and early migratory movements of these captive-reared birds and helped to inform future management actions with the captive population. After the telemetry project was complete, she continued to work with WPC on other projects involving both the captive and wild populations of shrikes in Ontario.

In 2009, Tara was selected to be WPC’s 20th Canada’s New Noah. During her time in Mauritius, worked with the Mauritius Kestrel team to monitor breeding success and productivity – a dream come true. Her research project investigated the effect of forest quality on native gecko populations, and the potential impact that gecko abundance and forest quality may have on kestrel hunting success.

In 2010-2011, Tara was hired by Virginia Tech to monitor overwintering populations of Piping Plover along the Gulf of Mexico and document the potential impacts of the Deepwater Horizon (BP) oil spill in 2010/11. Results from this project will provide a greater understanding of overwintering biology for piping plovers. Following cold weather events in Texas, she assisted the Padre Island National Seashore with Green Sea Turtle rescue and rehabilitation efforts.

In 2011, Tara returned to work for WPC as a Species Recovery Biologist, coordinating Eastern Loggerhead Shrike Recovery Program. This position involves coordinating field activities (wild population monitoring, captive breeding and releases), habitat stewardship and restoration projects.  Under Tara’s supervision, staff and volunteers undertook analysis of data on the return rates and reproductive success of captive-reared juveniles released into the wild population.  This study demonstrated that shrikes were more likely to return to Ontario if they were released in large groups at a young age.  Furthermore, wild pairs with a captive-reared individual had similar success to wild pairs with two wild individuals.

Tara plans on undertaking her PhD degree in the fall of 2013 under the supervision of Dr. Marty Leonard at Dalhousie University.  She will be investigating the cause(s) of rapid population declines for four species of swallows in the Maritimes.  This study will be supported by WPC and partnerships with Bird Studies Canada and the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Publications

Imlay, T., R. Dale, S. Buckland, C. Jones and N. Cole. (2012) A novel approach to counting geckos: Phelsuma density in Mauritian forests. Herpetological Review 43(3):391-395.

 Imlay, T.L., J.F. Crowley, A.M. Argue, J.C. Steiner, D.R. Norris and B.J.M. Stutchbury. (2010) Survival, dispersal and early migration movements of captive-bred juvenile eastern loggerhead shrikes (Lanius ludovicianus migrans). Biological Conservation 143(11): 2578-2582.

Lagios, E.L., K.F. Robbins, J.M. Lapierre, J.C. Steiner, and T.L. Imlay. Recruitment of juvenile, captive-reared eastern loggerhead shrikes into the wild population. Oryx, submitted.

Amirault-Langlais, D.L., T.L. Imlay, and A.W. Boyne. Dispersal patterns suggest two breeding populations of Piping Plovers in Eastern Canada. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology, submitted.