Ralph Morris

Faculty of Mathematics and Science

Ralph Morris

Professor Emeritus
E-mail: rmorris@brocku.ca

Research Interests while at Brock University

I retired from the Department in June 2000. While I was at the university, research interests of the Brock Seabird Lab (1976-2000) focused broadly on aspects of parental care behaviour of colonial nesting seabirds. Study animals were Common Terns (Sterna hirundo), Ring-billed Gulls (Larus delawarensis), Brown Noddies (Anous stolidus) Herring Gulls (L. argentatus), and Caspian Terns (S. caspia). Our principal study areas at temperate locations on the Canadian Great Lakes were (a) an artificial breakwater offshore from Port Colborne, Ontario in Lake Erie (Figure 1, 2) which we worked continuously since 1976, and the Windermere Basin area at the extreme western end of Lake Ontario near Hamilton, Ontario (Figure 3) where we worked since 1991. Our principal tropical study area was on Cayo Noroeste, one of several seabird islands in the Culebra National Wildlife Refuge, Puerto Rico (Figure 4), which we had under continuous study from1985 to 1998.

Our research questions, within the broader context of parental care behaviour, addressed four general areas of enquiry:

  1. What behavioural options are available for disadvantaged chicks in a multiple-chick brood?
  2. What are the life history, mate and site fidelity patterns of a tropical nesting tern, the Brown Noddy?
  3. What procedures can be used to help preserve a declining population of Common Terns on the Great Lakes?
  4. Does newly available habitat alter the nesting distribution and foraging ecology of Common and Caspian Terns?

Current Research Interests

My present research interests involve manuscript writing with former students, and under contract with government agencies. In addition, I worked (as an advisor) with a group of fish and wildlife volunteers from Conservation and Nature Clubs in the Port Colborne region. Members of this group had accepted responsibility for the care and management of the Common Tern colony on the breakwall offshore from the town in Lake Erie. By 2007, Common Tern had abandoned the breakwall site and none have nested there since. I also work with colleagues from McMaster University to manage the Common Tern colonies in the Hamilton Harbour area of Lake Ontario.

Research Publications

(a) Colonial Nesting Waterbirds (1976-2012)
(b) Small Mammals (1967-1972)


(a) Ph.D. Students
(b) M.Sc. Students
(c) Student Career Path

My personal web space