Pete Marra is the director of the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center. His research in avian conservation science has three broad themes, including the ecology of migratory birds, urban ecosystem ecology and disease ecology.
Marra's primary interests lie in understanding the factors that control population persistence and dynamics, so his research examines the roles of climate, habitat, food and pathogens, as well as other anthropogenic sources of mortality on the individual condition of both migratory and resident birds.
Marra's projects include:
- Full annual cycle biology of migratory birds, including work on multiple species (e.g., American redstarts, kirtland’s warblers)
- The Migratory Connectivity Project
- The ecology and evolution of wildlife in urban environments (Neighborhood Nestwatch)
- Coffee agroforestry: expanding the reach of the bird-friendly bean
Marra's research emphasizes incorporating events throughout the annual cycle to understand how more complex interactions across seasons drive the ecology and evolution of species, and he uses this information to find conservation solutions. To do this, he has developed and incorporated multiple novel and emerging tracking techniques into his research.
Marra has founded several large research and communication initiatives, including Neighborhood Nestwatch, The Migratory Connectivity Project and the Animal Mortality and Monitoring Program. Communicating his science and his excitement for the conservation of wildlife to as wide an audience as possible, including the general public, is a high priority of his overall program.