Beth MacDougall-Shackleton, PhD
Behavioural ecology and population genetics of songbirds
Research in this lab deals with the interplay between mating behaviour (particularly as regards song) and population genetic structure in songbirds. Because most birds learn to sing during early life, and song varies geographically, the songs males sing convey information as to their place of origin. My research addresses whether females use this information to select mates, and if so, whether song functions as a cue for assortative mating (e.g. to maintain local adaptations) or disassortative mating (e.g. to avoid inbreeding and/or to maximize resistance to parasites and disease in their offspring). By combining modern molecular genetic techniques with extensive field ecological study, this research contributes to basic knowledge about how learned traits may shape mate choice and population genetic structure. Such knowledge is also fundamental to the conservation and management of songbird populations.
Degrees and Institutions
- PhD Princeton University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, 2000 (supervisor Tom Hahn)
- MSc Queen's University, Biology, 1994 (supervisor Raleigh Robertson)
- BSc Queen's University, Biology, 1992
- Biology 1001A Biology for Science I
- Schmidt KL, Moore SD, MacDougall-Shackleton EA & MacDougall-Shackleton SA. 2013. Early-life stress affects song complexity, song learning, and volume of the brain nucleus RA in adult male song sparrows. Animal Behaviour 86: 25-35.
- Schmidt KL, EA MacDougall-Shackleton & SA MacDougall-Shackleton. 2012. Developmental stress has sex-specific effects on nestling growth and adult metabolic rates but no effect on adult body size or body composition in song sparrows. Journal of Experimental Biology 215: 3207-3217.
- Schmidt KL, AA Furlonger, JM Lapierre, EA MacDougall-Shackleton & SA MacDougall-Shackleton. 2012. Regulation of the HPA axis is related to song complexity and measures of phenotypic quality in song sparrows. Hormones and Behavior 61: 652- 659.
- Lapierre JM, DJ Mennill, EA MacDougall-Shackleton. 2011. Spatial and age-related variation in advertisement of shared song elements by song sparrows: old males sing the hits. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 65: 2149-2160.
- MacDougall-Shackleton EA, M Clinchy, L Zanette & BD Neff. 2011. Songbird genetic diversity is lower in anthropogenically vs. naturally fragmented landscapes. Conservation Genetics 12: 1195-1203.