The Ecology & Conservation of  Animals in Seasonal Environments


Research in our lab focuses on the population dynamics, behaviour, conservation, and evolution of animals in seasonal environments, especially migratory birds and butterflies.  We address a variety of topics including effects of climate change and habitat loss throughout the annual cycle of seabirds and songbirds, the role of migration networks and seasonal interactions in predicting changes in population size, the development of optimal conservation plans for a range of migratory species, the costs and benefits of migration, and life-history trade-offs between different periods of the annual cycle. Our research integrates behavioural and demographic field research with landscape ecology, theoretical and empirical modeling, and biogeochemistry. We conduct field research in a number of locations including the BC Pacific coast, Costa Rica, Algonquin Park, the Bay of Fundy, the eastern Canadian Arctic, Long Point Provincial Park, and the University of Guelph campus.

Click here for the departmental webpage

Norris Lab

Department of Integrative Biology,    

University of Guelph

Recent papers from the lab:

New evidence showing that Monarch butterflies do not possess an internal map to navigate to their Mexican wintering grounds.

Mouritsen et al. 2013. An experimental

displacement and over 50 years of

tagged-recoveries show that monarch

butterflies are not true navigators. In

press: Proc Natl Acad Sci USA


Our new experimental fruit fly study shows that carry-over effects and seasonality can increase the long-term stability of populations.

Betini et al. 2013. Carry-over effects,

sequential density dependence and the

dynamics of populations in a seasonal

environment. Proc Roy Soc Lond B

280: 20130110.

Recent lab news:

April 2013: Graduate student Rachael

Derbyshire interview on CBC’s Quirks

& Quarks about our recent work on

monarch navigation. This research was

also featured in Nature, the Globe &

Mail,, and Discovery News.

Congratulations to Gustavo Betini for

winning the Integrative Biology

Distinguished Speaker Award! He

gave a great departmental seminar to a

packed audeience on April 4.

March 2013: Congratulations to

Rachael Derbyshire for being awarded

a Garfield Weston Fellowship from the

Wildlife Conservation Society and a

Bergstrom Award from AFO!

February 2013: A recent study on the

cultural evolution of song in Savannah

sparrows is featured in the Toronto Star

January 2013: Collaborators from

Western, Acadia & Guelph are awarded

a LEF Grant from the Canadian

Foundation for Innovation for tracking

migratory birds. See Guelph news story


Kent Island, Bay of Fundy

Algonquin Park, ON

Marbled murrelet, coastal BC

Gray jays, Algonquin Park, ON

Savannah sparrow, Kent Island, NB

For visitors:

The Norris Lab is located on the 2nd floor of the New Science Complex (Room 2403/2404) on the east side of

Gordon St., University of Guelph campus.  It is about 45 minutes west of the Toronto airport.

Click here for campus map

Click here for visitor parking locations

Click here for the University of Guelph homepage

This website was created July 2010.

All content copyright Ryan Norris.