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Donald Brightsmith

Associate Professor


Phone: (979) 458-0563

Mailstop: 4467

Department: VTPB

Photo of Brightsmith, Donald


Tambopata Macaw Project - The Tambopata Macaw Project is a long term research project on the ecology and conservation of macaws and parrots in the lowlands of southeastern Peru. The goal of the project is to generate information on wild macaws and parrots macaws and use this information to improve the health and welfare of captive birds and aid the conservation of wild birds throughout the tropics. Research, independent study, rotation and internship opportunities are available through this program.


Costa Rica Biomedical Sciences program This program provides required "core" courses and key electives for students working towards a degree in Biomedical Sciences along with Pre-Meds, Pre-Vets, and others from any major who want to take a semester abroad while still advancing their degree plan. Students will receive an in depth introduction to Costa Rican and Latin American health, conservation, culture, and nature, then learn and use Spanish through a combination of classes and home stays. Immunology and Physiological Chemistry will be taught with a "Latin flavor" to show how these sciences are applicable to Costa Rica and the world outside the classroom. Students will engage in many field trips to national parks, schools, beaches, clinics, markets, zoo, etc to learn about the health and conservation issues facing Latin America today.

Amazon Field School ABS Field School in the Peruvian Amazon introduces students to the social and biological realities of conservation and research in Latin America. Students have firsthand investigation into key resource management systems, and apply conservation research techniques. Students complete case studies of important resources found in lowland tropical forests of southeastern Peru. Students interact with a mix of native peoples, colonists, conservation organizations, loggers, gold miners, and eco-tourism experts.


  • Ph.D. Zoology, Duke University 1999
  • M.S. Wildlife Ecology, University of Arizona 1993
  • B.S. Natural Resources, Cornell University 1990
  • Visiting Student Zoology, Oxford University 1989

Scholarly Interests

Avian health; avian ecology; geophagy (consumption of soil); avian conservation; disease threats from the live bird trade; diets of wild and captive exotic birds; role of infectious diseases in wild and endangered bird populations; captive avian enrichment. Specialization in psittacines (parrots, macaws, parakeets and allies).


Developing Cultural Competence through the Introduction of Medical Spanish into the Veterinary Curriculum
Tayce, J., S. Burnham, G. Mays, J.C. Robles, D.J. Brightsmith, V. Fajt, and D. Posey
Journal of Veterinary Medical Education. 2016
Illegal domestic bird trade and the role of export quotas in Peru
Daut, E. F., D. J. Brightsmith, A. P. Mendoza, L. Puhakka, and M. J. Peterson.
Journal for Nature Conservation. 2015
Impact of Delayed Analysis in Avian Blood Biochemical Values Measured With the Abaxis VetScan VS2
Hoppes, S. M., J. D. Boyd, and D. J. Brightsmith
Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery. 2015
Role of Non-Governmental Organizations in Combating Illegal Wildlife-Pet Trade in Peru
Daut, E. F., D. J. Brightsmith, and M. J. Peterson.
Journal of Nature Conservation. 2015
An evaluation of primers for microsatellite markers in Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) and their performance in a Peruvian wild population
Olah, G., R. G. Heinsohn, J. R. Espinoza, D. J. Brightsmith, and R. Peakall
Conservation Genetics Resources. 2015
Uso de collpa y otras observaciones del maracana cabeciazul (Primolius couloni) en el sureste de Perú
Torres-Sovero, C., H. Lloyd, and D. J. Brightsmith
Neotropical Ornithology. 2014
Cultivable bacterial microbiota of northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus): a new reservoir of antimicrobial resistance?
Su H, McKelvey J, Rollins D, Zhang M, Brightsmith DJ, Derr J, Zhang S
PLoS One. 2014 9(6):.
Diet and geophagy across a western Amazonian parrot assemblage
Lee, A. T. K., D. J. Brightsmith, M. P. N. Vargas, K. Q. Leon, A. J. R. Mejia, L. Y. Q. Huanca, A. K. Lee, and S. J. Marsden
Biotropica. 2014
Nest site selection and efficacy of artificial nests for breeding success of Scarlet Macaws (Ara macao) in lowland Peru
Olah, G., G. Vigo, R. Heinsohn, and D. J. Brightsmith
Journal of Nature Conservation. 2014
Monk parakeet nest-site selection of electric utility structures in Texas
Reed, J. E., R. McCleery, N. J. Silvy, F. E. Smeins, and D. J. Brightsmith
Landscaping and Urban Planning. 2014
A Draft De Novo Genome Assembly for the Northern Bobwhite (Colinus virginianus) Reveals Evidence for a Rapid Decline in Effective Population Size Beginning in the Late Pleistocene
Halley, Y. A., S. E. Dowd, J. E. Decker, P. M. Seabury, E. Bhattarai, C. D. Johnson, D. Rollins, I. R. Tizard, D. J. Brightsmith, M. J. Peterson, J. F. Taylor, and C. M. Seabury
PLoS ONE . 2014
Hematologic and plasma biochemical reference values of the horned guan, Oreophasis derbianus
Cornejo, J., D. Richardson, J. G. Perez, D. J. Brightsmith, C. J. Bonar, and J. J. Heatley
Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine. 2014
Nutritional and physical characteristics of commercial hand-feeding formulas for parrots.
Cornejo, J., E. S. Dierenfeld, C. A. Bailey, and D. J. Brightsmith
Psittacine reintroductions and IUCN Guidelines - Response to Seddon
White, T. H., N. J. Collar, R. J. Moorhouse, V. Sanz, E. D. Stolen, and D. J. Brightsmith
Biological Conservation. 2013
Philornis sp. bot fly larvae in free living scarlet macaw nestlings and a new technique for their extraction.
Olah G, Vigo G, Ortiz L, Rozsa L, Brightsmith DJ
Vet Parasitol. 2013 196(1-2):245-9.
Nutritional and physical characteristics of commercial hand-feeding formulas for parrots.
Cornejo J, Dierenfeld ES, Bailey CA, Brightsmith DJ
Zoo Biol. 2013 32(5):469-75.
Error properties of Argos satellite telemetry locations using least squares and Kalman filtering
Boyd, J. D. and D. J. Brightsmith
PLOS One. 2013
A Multi-Platform Draft de novo Genome Assembly and Comparative Analysis for the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao)
Seabury, C. M., S. E. Dowd, P. M. Seabury, T. Raudsepp, D. J. Brightsmith, P. Liboriussen, Y. Halley, C. A. Fisher, E. Owens, G. Viswanathan, and I. R. Tizard
PLOS One. 2013
Predicted metabolizable energy density and amino acid profile of the crop contents of free-living scarlet macaw chicks (Ara macao).
Cornejo J, Dierenfeld ES, Bailey CA, Brightsmith DJ
J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr (Berl). 2012 96(6):947-54.
Positive reinforcement training facilitates the voluntary participation of laboratory macaws with veterinary procedures.
Daugette KF, Hoppes S, Tizard I, Brightsmith D
J Avian Med Surg. 2012 26(4):248-54.
Molecular characterization of the cloacal microbiota of wild and captive parrots.
Xenoulis PG, Gray PL, Brightsmith D, Palculict B, Hoppes S, Steiner JM, Tizard I, Suchodolski JS
Vet Microbiol. 2010 146(3-4):320-5.
Nutritional content of the diets of free-living scarlet macaw chicks in southeastern Peru.
Brightsmith DJ, McDonald D, Matsafuji D, Bailey CA
J Avian Med Surg. 2010 24(1):9-23.
Dietary modification of omega-3 fatty acids for birds with atherosclerosis.
Petzinger C, Heatley JJ, Cornejo J, Brightsmith DJ, Bauer JE
J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2010 236(5):523-8.

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