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Welcome to the Avian Ecology & Behavior Lab


Our research is broadly focused on the links between ecology, evolution, and behavior of year-round resident birds, using individual-based studies to understand variation in individual fitness and population demography. Our work examines reproductive and dispersal strategies, life history trade-offs, demography, and seed dispersal and how the changing environment impacts these processes. Lab projects include: impacts of rainfall and fragmentation on demography in understory birds in Panama, causes of variation in fitness and demography of birds in central Panama, the role of invasive vertebrates in seed dispersal in Hawaii, and life histories and demography of song sparrows in British Columbia. These projects are aimed at understanding how linkages between individual, population, and community scales are impacted by environmental changes.

Cover of Nature Climate Change issue with article on rainfall effectson tropical birds.

Brawn, J.D., T.J. Benson, Stager, Sly, and C.E. Tarwater. 2017. Rainfall and the demography of tropical birds: long-term patterns and conservation implications. Nature Climate Change

Climate impacts on demography of tropical birds across 33 years

Lab Culture and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We are deeply committed to fostering equity, diversity, and inclusion in academia. The Tarwater Lab strives to achieve this by fomenting a lab culture of recruiting and retaining budding scientists from all backgrounds, of creating a safe space for engagement and learning, valuing diverse perspectives, and treating each other with respect and kindness. We believe that diverse research groups increase productivity and creativity.  We strive to create a learning and work environment that supports all people.

We work hard, but we value work-life balance. Research is amazing! So is getting outside and enjoying the beautiful place that we live and the wonderful places that we work! 

Lab news
  • Sam's paper just came out in Ecology. Congrats Sam! Case, Samuel B., and Corey E. Tarwater. 2023. “Exploitation Competition between Seed Predators and Dispersers Introduced to Hawaiian Forests.”
    Ecology e4038. - April 2023

  • Reina Galvan and Kelly Roberts will be joining the Tarwater lab this fall! We are excited to have them! - March 2023

  • Corey, Patrick, Kim, Bri, and Liz are heading down to Panama for the 49th year of netting - March 2023 

  • Corey is now the Robert B. Berry Distinguished Chair in Ecology/Ornithology! She is excited to get started - January 2023

  • Another big congrats to Dr. Sam Case for defending his PhD! - December 2022

  • Big congratulations to Laura for successfully defending her Masters! - November 2022

  • Welcome Mary and Kim to the lab! We are excited to have you! - August 2022

  • Congrats to Sam! His paper on the role of galliforms in seed dispersal was just published in Biological Invasions - - June 2022

  • Corey, Summer, Liz, and Patrick head down to Panama to help the crew with our ant swarm project. Great to be back in the field! - June 2022

  • Corey heads back down to Panama to help get field work started for the new NSF funded project on army-ant following birds. We have a field team of 8, plus undergraduates and graduate students. Excited to get to work! - May 2022

  • The 25 year recensus just ended! We completed a wet and dry season recensus and will compare these results to what we observed the last time the entire community of birds on the Limbo plot was censused (in the 90s!). Really excited to see what we find. - April 2022

  • New paper just came out in PNAS showing long term declines of the majority of our species in Panama. Although it is depressing, it is important to be able to show the patterns. Now we need to figure out why! - April 2022 

  • Heading to Panama for the 1st time since March 2020 for the 46th year of long-term netting! - Mar. 2022

  • The long-term recensus project starts again. Ovidio Jamarillo and Cameron Rutt will be out on Limbo for the next 2.5 months conducting point counts so we can compare the community now compared to 25 years ago. - Feb. 2022

  • BIG NEWS!!! Our proposal with NSF just got funded! We will be heading to Panama this summer to start up a new project on army ant swarms and ant-following birds. Stay tuned. We will be hiring PhD students and lots of field techs! - Dec. 2021

  • Good luck to Becky on her new postdoc at the Cal Academy of Sciences! We will miss you! - Nov. 2021

  • Welcome Liz to the lab! We are excited to have you. - Sept 2021

  • Congratulations to Pryce and Sam on our new paper on pollinators visiting rare and endangered plants in Hawaii, published in the journal of Pollination Ecology! - Aug 2021

  • Congratulations to Dr. Wilcox!! Becky successfully defended her Ph.D. today and she did an amazing job! Although we are sad that Becky will be leaving us soon, we are glad she will be hanging out with us a bit longer. - Dec. 2020

  • Rosemary's paper on neighborhood effects on frugivory came out today in Oecologica. Congratulations Rosemary! - Oct. 2020

  • Sam's paper on how functional traits in avian frugivores have changed between the historic and modern assemblage is out in Functional Ecology. Congratulations Sam! - Aug. 2020

  • Congratulations Josephine for winning a best talk award at the NAOC! Awesome job! - Aug 2020

  • New article out in JFO on our long-term data from Limbo on what happens to bird communities when big treefall gaps occur in the tropics - Jan. 2020

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