Please enable javascript to view this page in its intended format.

Queen's University

BIOL 537 2015-16
Dr. P. Martin

Rm:   4320 Bioscience Complex
Tel:   (613) 533-6598
Lab Web Site:
Faculty Web Site:

Our current work focuses on the behaviour, ecology, and evolution of birds, particularly with respect to species interactions (community ecology).

Honours thesis projects available for this coming year involve comparative analyses of trait evolution in birds, and comparative analyses of behavioural dominance among closely related species of birds. These projects rely on published phylogenetic relationships, genetic data, geographic range data (using GIS), and measures of traits or interactions from the literature, museums, or other sources. These projects will not require field work.

Please see my webpage and recent papers for more details regarding the research
in our lab ( We aim to publish honours thesis projects with undergraduate students as the lead authors. Recent honours theses in our lab were published in Ecology, PLoS ONE, and Animal Behaviour.

I will take up to 2 honours thesis students next year.

STARTING DATE: Projects will require some work in the summer, and intensive work beginning in September.

Possible Projects:

(1) Variation in the relationship between body size and behavioural dominance across taxonomic families of birds— Closely-related species of birds often interact aggressively, with one species consistently dominant to the other. Behaviourally dominant species are typically, but not always, the larger species. This project would test the hypothesis that the importance of body size in determining the outcome of aggressive interactions varies across different families of birds.

(2) Reinforcement, sexual selection, and the evolution of diverse ornamentation in the birds-of-paradise — Birds-of-paradise are renowned for their diversity of extravagant traits, including songs, bare parts, feathers, and colour patterns. This project would test the hypothesis that reinforcement directs sexual selection to different ornaments, leading to the diversification of ornamentation among sympatric birds-of-paradise.

(3) Habitat partitioning among evolutionarily young species of birds — Closely-related species of birds share many ecological traits and preferences through recent common ancestry, and thus are expected to use similar habitats and resources. Using similar habitats and resources, however, can lead to fitness costs from competition, leading to habitat partitioning. This project would test these opposing predictions using a large dataset on the occurrence and abundance of breeding birds from the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas project. The project will require a good understanding of data management and statistics.

Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000