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Queen's University

Laurene Ratcliffe - Professor

Ratcliffe.jpg Research: My research centers on the ecology and evolution of communication in songbirds, and on social behaviour such as mate choice.  My students and I are interested in such questions as honest signaling of mate quality and the causes and consequences of mixed mating strategies in socially monogamous species.  Recent studies have examined the structure and function of song repertoires in black-capped chickadees and cerulean warblers, environmental influences on song transmission in wood warblers, and age-related vocal and visual signaling in lazuli buntings.  Current projects include investigating how social and competitive ability influence mating options of male and female chickadees, and testing the 'hidden lek' hypothesis in least flycatchers. We also use stable isotope analyses to study migration behaviour in long-distance migratory species like American redstarts.

Students are encouraged to combine field and lab approaches in their work.  Excellent facilities are provided for field work (Queen's Biology Station), for molecular ecology analyses (molecular ecology lab directed by Dr. Peter Boag), and captive studies (aviaries, Biosciences Complex).

»» No Lab Website »« email: »« telephone: 613-533-6142 ««

Some Recent Publications: 

  • Nocera, J. J. and L. M. RATCLIFFE. 2010.  Migrant and resident birds adjust anti-predator behavior in response to social information accuracy.  Behavioral Ecology 21: 121-128.  (COVER ARTICLE)
  • Germain, R. R., Reudink, M. W., Marra, P. P. and L.M.  RATCLIFFE. 2010. Carotenoid-based male plumage predicts parental investment in the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla).  Wilson Journal of Ornithology 122 (2): 318-325.
  • Foote, J. R., Fitzsimmons, L. P., Mennill, D. J. and L. M. RATCLIFFE. 2010. Black-capped chickadee dawn choruses are interactive communication networks.  Behaviour 147: 12319-1248.
  • Foote, J. R., Mennill, D. J.,  RATCLIFFE, L. M., Smith, S. M.  2010.  Black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus), The Birds of North America (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
  •  Germain, R. R., Marra, P. P., Kyser, T. K. and L. M. RATCLIFFE.  2010.  Adult-like plumage coloration predicts winter territory quality and timing of arrival on the breeding grounds of yearling male American redstarts.  The Condor 112: 676-682.
  • Foote, J. R., Fitzsimmons, L. P., Mennill, D. J. and L. M. RATCLIFFE.  2011. Male black-capped chickadees begin dawn chorusing earlier in response to simulated territorial insertions. Animal Behaviour 81: 871-877.
  • Germain, R. R., Reudink, M. W., Marra, P. P., Boag, P. T. and L. M. RATCLIFFE. 2012. Delayed maturation of multiple signals in a migratory songbird.   Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 66: 419-431.
  • Toth, C. A., Mennill, D. J. and L. M. RATCLIFFE. 2012. Evidence for multi-contest eavesdropping in chickadees.  Behavioral Ecology 23: 836-842. (COVER ARTICLE)
  • McKellar, A. E., Marra, P. P., Hannon, S. J., Studds, C. E. and L. M. RATCLIFFE. 2012. Winter rainfall predicts phenology in widely separated populations of a migrant songbird. Oecologia DOI 10.1007/s00442-012-2520-8
  • McKellar, A. E., Marra, P. P. and L. M. RATCLIFFE.  2013.  Starting over: experimental effects of breeding delay on reproductive success in early-arriving male American redstarts. Journal of Avian Biology 44: 495-503.
  • Osmond, M.M., Reudink, M. W., Germain, R.R, Marra, P. P., Nocera, J.J., Boag, P. T. and  L. M. Ratcliffe.  2013. Relationships between carotenoid-based female plumage and age, reproduction and mate colour in the American redstart (Setophaga ruticilla) . Canadian Journal of Zoology 91: 589-595.
  • McKellar, A. E., Marra, P. P., Boag, P. T. and L. M. Ratcliffe.  (In press) Form, function, and consequences of density-dependence in a long-distance migratory bird.  Oikos
  • Hahn, A.H., Guillette, L. M., Hoeschele, M., Mennill, D. J., Otter, K. A., Grava, T., Ratcliffe, L. M., and Sturdy, C. B. (in press)  Dominance and geographic information contained within black-capped chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) song). Behaviour

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000