Welcome to the Townsend Lab!

We examine the behavioral responses of wildlife to human-induced environmental change and the consequences that these behaviors have for individual fitness and population dynamics.  We seek to identify management tools to conserve wildlife in this changing landscape. To answer our research questions, we integrate tools from behavioral ecology, disease ecology, molecular ecology, and population ecology.

Our current research is focused on the interactive effects of urbanization, disease, and social behavior on disease in American Crows in Oneida County, New York, and Yolo County, California.  Some of our current reseach questions are focused on the following:

Migration. Where are migratory crows going?  What are the differences (behavioral, health) between residents and migrants? Urban birds and rural birds?
Diseases.  Do crows act as transport hosts for zoonotic diseases (e.g., West Nile virus, food-borne pathogens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria)?  What is their role in the maintenance and evolution of these diseases?
Cognition, kin recognition, and cooperation. Do they recognize (and how do they recognize) and behave differently with kin vs. non-kin?  What role does kin recognition play in inbreeding and inbreeding avoidance?

Lab News

Fall 2016

Some (although not all) crows carry Campylobacter  similar to human Campylobacter.  See some recent papers in Applied and Environmental Microbiology

Summer 2016

Meet our newest aviary residents! 

Fall 2015

Some migratory songbirds might benefit from warmer springs. 

The Hamilton Aviary is almost complete and open for business! See local coverage

Spring 2015

Satellite-tagged crows are on the move! Birds that overwintered in urban Davis, California, are now settling down in gorgeous breeding territories in the mountains of Oregon and northern Washington.

Why are crows dying of West Nile virus in the winter? Mitch's paper exploring the role of crow roosts in West Nile virus maintenance is in press in the Journal of Medical Entomology

Do shared pathogens drive convergent evolution? Our paper comparing MHC polymorphisms in three crow species is in press in PeerJ.  

Jacob Wagner presented the results of his senior project, in which he identified an aquatic herbicide with relatively low toxicity to fish, at the meeting of the Northeast Aquatic Plant Management Society. 

Summer 2014

Congrats to Conor Taff for receiving the Merton Love Award for Outstanding Dissertation in Ecology and Evolution at UCD in 2013-2014, as well as for the Cooper Ornithological Society Young Professional Award!

Andrea has been featured on NerdScholar’s “40 Under 40: Professors Who Inspire."  (hmmm)

Spring 2014

Congratutions to Ryane Logsdon on her NSF predoctoral fellowship!

Davis crows are famous!  Read about them in The Aggie

It is hard to be a bird in a human-dominated landscape.  Find out about nestling entanglement and mortality in urban and agricultural crows (and don't let your balloons fly away).

Crow poop harbors antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ciprofloxacin and vancomycin) and food-borne pathogens (Campylobacter jejuni). Check out some of the media coverage:

Scientific American, On Earth, and Motherboard.

Congratulations to Mitch Hinton for his nomination to participate in the ESA-SEEDS conference in 2014!