Research Publications



Prof. Liana Zanette, Professor and Faculty Scholar

Dr. Michael Clinchy





Marek Allen, PhD candidate

In my Ph.D. thesis, I am expanding upon our previous findings to focus on how the perceived risk of predation affects prey population dynamics through effects on juvenile condition, behaviour and survival. Using radio telemetry, I monitored the fate of juvenile song sparrows out at Liana's long-term sites on the B.C. Gulf Islands during multiple breeding seasons, then returned next spring each year to find juveniles that survived to become adults.


David Swan, PhD candidate

David has established that brown-headed cowbirds are a major nest 'predator' of songbirds. He is now using field data and lab experiments to test whether this whether this killing facilitates their parasitism of hosts.


Lauren Witterick, MSc candidate

For my Masters, I am looking at the long term effects of predator playbacks on the brain, in particular I'm looking at changes in protein expression and dendritic morphology. I conducted predation risk manipulations both in black-capped chickadees in acoustic isolation at the Advanced Facility for Avian Research and in brown-headed cowbirds in large outdoor aviaries at the Environmental Sciences Western Field Station. 


Badru Mugerwa, MSc candidate

My research uses novel automated audio playback experiments to investigate the efficacy of wildlife’s fear responses to acoustic hunting cues (e.g. sounds of dogs, human voices, gunshots) as means of quantifying the extent of and threat illegal hunting (poaching) poses to wildlife in tropical ecosystems. 


Past Members


Justin Suraci, PhD

Justin's PhD focused on the ecological consequences of the loss of large carnivores and the fear (i.e., perceived predation risk) they instill in their prey, experimentally demonstrating that fear alone can cause a trophic cascade.


Julia Hrynkiewicz, BSc Honours

I examined the long-term effects predation risk has on take-off behaviour and doublecortin expression in brown-headed cowbirds. 


RuiLin Guo, BSc Honours

I investigated the impact of perceived predation risk and perceived competition on fall field crickets (Gryllus pennsylvanicus) through experimental manipulations. I quantified the growth, behavioural, and fecundity changes induced by perceived predation and competition.

Ashael Raveh, Visiting PhD

I was a visiting graduate student from Israel (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev). I'm writing my PhD dissertation on effects of ectoparasites (fleas) and risk of predation on foraging behaviour in Allenby's gerbil (Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi). Here at Western I helped with experiments on the effects of perceived predation risk on development, reproduction, and behaviour of fall field crickets (Gryllus pennsylvanicus).


Emma Hobbs, MSc

Emma tested the effect of predator playbacks on immediate early gene (IEG) expression in the nucleus taeniae of the amygdala in chickadees, to corroborate that this is the “fear centre” in the avian brain.


Blair Dudeck, MSc

Blair looked at how fear of predation compromised parental care and the following effects on juvenile survival.


Ben Walters, MSc

My research focused on how brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) respond physiologically to the increased risk of predation and I tested the assumption that predator-induced mass change will affect various measures of flight performance.


Tin Nok Natalie Cheng, MSc

I experimentally manipulated the risk of predation during the breeding season and sampled courtship and mating behaviour in both male and female brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater) to determine how predation risk affects reproductive success.


Alex Chang, BSc Honours

Alex evaluated whether early nestling condition predicts post-fledging survival months later, using radio-telemetry data he collected in B.C.’s Gulf Islands.


David Landsman, BSc Honours

David is evaluating whether fear causes birds to compromise their ability to perform sustained flights, because they become leaner in order to improve their short-term escape performance.


Michael Anderson, Postdoctoral Fellow

Michael's research addressed whether the different conditions experienced by nestling brown-headed cowbirds reared in different host nests have permanent effects on their development that are measurable in adulthood.


Michelle Bondy, MSc

Michelle evaluated whether inter-population differences in predation rate may lead to inter-population differences in genetic diversity.


Aija White, MSc

Aija tested whether fear itself affects the number of offspring song sparrows produce per year.


Rob Decaire, MSc

Rob tested whether host nestling mortality in nests parasitized by brown-headed cowbirds is solely due to the cowbird nestling's being larger.


Melanie Groves, MSc

Melanie analyzed video data collected using the wildlife video surveillance system we developed, evaluating whether parental care during brood-rearing differs between sites differing in nest predation risk.


Marc Travers, MSc

Marc conducted a large-scale experiment at my long-term study sites on the B.C. Gulf Islands that was the first to demonstrate that a parent's experience of losing young to a predator reduces the parent's subsequent reproduction. He demonstrated that predators can affect the birth rate of prey, and we later used stable isotopes to show that this was associated with fear effects on food use.


Katie Pagnucco, BSc Honours

Katie showed that to compete with brood parasitic brown-headed cowbird nestlings, host nestlings mimic the calls of cowbird nestlings, and are thus compelled to behave like "sheep in wolf's clothing".


Neil Goodenough, MSc

Neil collected data concerning the effect of differences in predation risk on facets of the physiological stress response in song sparrows.


Jeremy Pfaff, MSc

Jeremy's research showed that the number of songs adult male song sparrows sing is affected by the size of the song control nuclei in their brain, which Betheny Kempster's work showed is affected by food restriction during early development.

Bethany Kempster, MSc

Bethany conducted a hand-rearing experiment in the lab that demonstrated that food restriction during brood-rearing has lasting adverse effects on brain development and physiological condition. Marek Allen's PhD work will now address whether fear has comparable effects on birds in the field.


Anne Duncan-Rastogi, MSc

Anne experimentally demonstrated that parental nest attendance during incubation is affected by food availability. We subsequently demonstrated that predator-induced fear has comparable effects on incubation behaviour, which Anne's work suggests is due to fear impairing parental foraging.