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 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!
9 Sep 2015 ~ Jenny McCabe publishes paper on migrant fruit use in The Auk
15 Aug 2015 ~ Kate Ruskin gets presentation award at Waterbird Soc.
31 Jul 2015 ~ Kate Ruskin successfully defends Ph.D.!!!
18 Jul 2015 ~ Jenny McCabe gets presentation award at AFO/SCO/WSO
17 Jun 2015 ~ Jen Walsh publishes paper on hybrid plumage in The Auk
17 Apr 2015 ~ Mo Correll wins Mendall Award for migratory animal research
9 Apr 2015 ~ Jenny McCabe wins second prize at the CCI Borns' Symposium
3 Apr 2015 ~ Mo Correll wins first in Oral Competition for Natural Sciences
3 Apr 2015 ~ Mo Correll wins second prize in the UMaine Grad PechaKucha
Click here to view current openings in the lab
photo by K. Ruskin
photo by W.G. Shriver