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!
1 Aug 2014 ~ Kate Ruskin presents paper at ISBE 2014 in NYC
30 May 2014 ~ Kate Ruskin presents work at AFO/Wilson Meeting in RI
27 May 2014 ~ Mo Correll begins internship with the Arctic LCC in Alaska
9 May 2014 ~ Dave Grunzel earns his M.S.!!
17 Apr 2014 ~ Kate gets best student presentation at CCI Borns Symposium
15 Apr 2014 ~ Kate, Mo, and Brian present papers at NEAFWA
4 Apr 2014 ~ Mo Correll gets 2nd place in UMaine Grad Research Expo
21 Mar 2014 ~ Laura Garey joins the lab!
3 Feb 2014 ~ Meaghan Conway joins the lab!

photo by K. Ruskin
photo by W.G. Shriver