THE Olsen Lab
hybird closeup
Research within the lab investigates how animals, particularly birds, adapt to a changing world.  We are primarily concerned with the two main drivers of a population's adaptive capacity, its evolutionary change and ecological plasticity. We investigate what degree of environmental change, at what rate, will cause a tipping point between local adaptation and the loss of population viability.  Because of this, our research is focused at the intersection of population and evolutionary ecology.  The colonization of habitats that are "novel" on different time scales (e.g., from recently urbanized settings to geologically-transient tidal marshes and marine islands) provide the processes and the field laboratories to describe generalities across ecosystems.  Birds serve as an ideal model system for these investigations because of their high detectability, their behavioral complexity and plasticity, the relative ease with which we can estimate their fecundity, and society's interest in their conservation.
Active Projects

~ The Saltmarsh Habitat & Avian Research Program –
~ The response of the Atlantic tidal marsh communities to Hurricane Sandy
~ Patterns of local adaptation across an avian hybrid zone
~ The migration ecology of songbirds (habitat and evolutionary implications)
~ Genomic and transcriptomic signals of adaptation in tidal marsh birds
~ The population ecology of Common Loons in North America
~ The complete annual life history of the Coastal Plain Swamp Sparrow
~ The adaptive capacity of the Song Sparrow
Lab News!
13 Feb 2015 ~ Jill Tengeres accepts summer gig with Kodiak NWR in Alaska
13 Feb 2015 ~ Kristina Cammen joins lab as postdoctoral researcher!
9 Feb 2015 ~ Jenny McCabe's manuscript accepted by J. Avian Biology
28 Jan 2015 ~ Laura Garey wins UMaine, EES Research Award
13 Jan 2015 ~ Manuscript accepted in CBE-Life Sciences Education
12 Jan 2015 ~ Kate Ruskin accepts Post-doc at UConn!
26 Nov 2014 ~ Britt Cline joins lab as postdoctoral researcher!
21 Nov 2014 ~ Evan Adams successfully defends his Ph.D.!!!
6 Oct 2014 ~ O. Lab helps develop plan for marsh conservation at PIF Meeting
Click here to view current openings in the lab
photo by K. Ruskin
photo by W.G. Shriver