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 news

November 12, 2020

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 the lab soon, fortunately she is going to hang out with us as a postdoc for a few months. 

September 14, 2020

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


September 01, 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! 


August 15, 2020

Congratulations Josephine for winning a best talk award at the NAOC! Awesome job!

March 15, 2020

New article out in JFO on our long-term data from Limbo what happens to bird populations and communities when big treefall gaps occur in the tropics - Henry S. Pollock, Todd M. Jones, Corey E. Tarwater, Elise T. Nishikawa, and Jeffrey D. Brawn, 2020, Rapid colonization and turnover of birds in a tropical forest treefall gap.

February 09, 2020

Corey and Patrick head back down to Panama for a month to continue their research and work with MSc student, Laura.

February 06, 2020

Congratulations to Sam for advancing to candidancy!

January 27, 2020

Master's student, Laura, is back in Gamboa, Panama for her 2nd field season studying army ant-swarms!

July 23, 2019

New paper from our lab, and many others, just came out today in Nature Communications showing that many animals are not able to respond fast enough to keep up with climate change - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-10924-4

April 30, 2019

Congratulations to Terri, undergrad in our lab, who just got admitted into the Wyoming Research Scholar's Program to examine personalities in song sparrows on Mandarte! Our 4th undergrad to get into this amazing program!

April 26, 2019

Congratulations to Pryce, undergraduate in our lab, who just received a NASA grant to study nectarivores in Hawaii this summer!

April 04, 2019

Our first paper on our work in Hawaii was published today in Science!


March 11, 2019

Back to HI for our 6th year of PI meetings!

February 25, 2019

Year 42 of the long-term netting in Panama!

January 24, 2019

Nice write-up by UW on Laura and the STRI internship she received!


January 05, 2019

Corey, Patrick, Dan, Josephine, and Laura are back in Panama. Josephine and Dan are conducting a playback experiment in manakins for the next few weeks. Patrick and Corey will be there until March working on various projects and with students. Laura will be there until July working on her research.

January 02, 2019

Sam is back in Hawaii gearing up for another great field season studying gamebirds!

December 03, 2018

Long-term crew leader, Laura Gomez-Murillo, has decided to join the Tarwater lab in January as a MSc student. We are excited to have her!

November 15, 2018

Laura Gomez-Murillo received a fellowship to become a STRI intern for Feb - April 2019. Congrats Laura! She will be working on a project in antshrikes looking at aggression across the rainfall-fragmentation gradient.

August 21, 2018

Corey became a Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute Research Associate

July 09, 2018

Our paper on survival and habitat preference in sparrows just came out in Ibis - Adult survival and reproductive rate are linked to habitat preference in territorial, year-round resident Song Sparrows Melospiza melodia. Authors - Germain, Ryan R., Schuster, Richard, Tarwater, Corey E., Hochachka, Wesley M., and Arcese, Peter

June 25, 2018

Rosemary and Becky head to HI to look at the role of neighborhood effects on frugivory rates in a native plant

May 18, 2018

Our article on impacts of early conditions on LRS just came out in the Auk 135:609-621:

Examination of context-dependent effects of natal traits on lifetime reproductive success using a long-term study of a temperate songbird - Corey E. Tarwater, Ryan R. Germain and Peter Arcese

May 11, 2018

Corey took over the long-term netting this year in Panama and it was a great success! We added molting and aging metrics with the help of crew leader Laura. We captured 253 birds of 42 species over a 6 day period. We were able to classify many species into fledgling, juvenile (1st year), and adult. It is very exciting to add this new component to the long-term netting!

May 09, 2018

Congratulations to undergrads Rosemary and Josephine! They were just accepted into the Wyoming Research Scholars Program! This means they get paid to do their own independent research and be part of an amazing research program! Rosemary will be studying factors influencing frugivory rates in Hawaii and Josephine will be studying manakin vocalizations in Panama. 

April 30, 2018

New blog post on our habitat selection paper in song sparrows by British Ornithologists' Union -


April 24, 2018

First Erckel's francolin to receive a gps transmitter!

April 25, 2018

Limbo long-term netting begins! The study is now in its 41st year!

April 22, 2018

Corey and Dan are participating in the Manakin RCN this week. We are focused on how environmental variation influences sexual selection in manakins.

April 19, 2018

Co-PI Patrick Kelley and Corey head to Panama to begin data collection across the Isthmus of Panama and to net at the long-term study site

April 18, 2018

Becky and Dan both passed their prelims! Congrats on becoming PhD candidates!

April 18, 2018

Undergraduate Rosemary received a NASA grant to study frugivory in HI. Congrats!.

January 10, 2018

New paper just got accepted on the decline in the song sparrow population due to competition with fox sparrows!

Johnson, K.M., R.R. Germain, C.E. Tarwater, J. Reid, and P. Arcese. 2018. Demographic consequences of invasion by a native, controphic competitor to an insular bird population. Oecologia. [in press]

January 02, 2018

Sam heads to Oahu for his second field season studying seed dispersal in introduced gamebirds. We are excited to try out the new GPS transmitters!

Please reload