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 along the Gulf of Maine
~ Controls on the southern extent 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!
21 Mar 2014 ~ Laura Garey joins the lab!
3 Feb 2014 ~ Meaghan Conway joins the lab!
17 Dec 2013 ~ Jenny McCabe passes her comprehensives!
25 Sep 2013 ~ Mo Correll's work highlighted by UMaine website
1 Sep 2013 ~ Kate Ruskin heads to Minnesota for Internship with EPA
23 Aug 2013 ~ Article on mate choice and bill dimorphism published in BehEco
13-17 Aug 2013 ~ Olsen Lab presents five papers at AOU in Chicago
10-21 June 2013 ~ Mo Correll attends courses at NECSI & MIT
17 Apr 2013 ~ Jenny McCabe wins Mendall Award for migratory animal research