Norris Lab members


Migratory animals comprising a significant portion of the world’s

biodiversity and billions of dollars are spent each year on their

conservation.  However, there is no single framework that outlines how

best to accommodate the financial and ecological challenges inherent

to effective conservation planning of migratory species.  Monarch

butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are likely the most recognized insect in

North America because they have the longest migration of any insect

in the world.  Each autumn, millions of monarchs depart breeding grounds

from as far north as Canada and migrate south through the United States

to few (~12) densely packed wintering colonies in central Mexico.

Conservation planning for monarchs therefore requires protecting different

resources among three different countries.

For my PhD I am using models, experiments, and field studies to integrate

migratory connectivity, population dynamics and optimal conservation

strategies for the eastern population of monarch butterflies.  I will estimate

migratory connectivity using complementary intrinsic and extrinsic markers

and using this information, I will develop a monarch population model to

include effects of multiple generations and specific life history events

across the annual cycle.  I will then use mathematical optimization to

determine where conservation resources should be allocated through

the entire distribution of the monarch butterfly to maximize population

size and persistence.


Flockhart, DTT, Martin, TM, & Norris, DR. 2012. Experimental examination of intraspecific density-dependent

competition during the breeding period in Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). PLoS, One 7(9): e45080.

Flockhart, DTT.  2010. Timing of events on the breeding grounds for five species of sympatric wood warblers.

Journal of Field Ornithology 81: 372-382.

Flockhart, DTT & Wiebe, KL. 2009. Absence of reproductive consequences of hybridization in the Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) hybrid zone. The Auk 126: 351-358.

Flockhart, DTT & Wiebe, KL. 2008. Variable weather patterns affect annual survival of Northern Flickers more than phenotype in the hybrid zone. Condor 110: 701-708.

Schmutz, JK, Flockhart, DTT, Houston, CS & McLoughlin, PD. 2008. Demography of Ferruginous Hawks breeding in Western Canada. Journal of Wildlife Management 72: 1352-1360.

Flockhart, DTT. 2007. Migration timing of Canada Warblers near the northern edge of their breeding range. Wilson Journal of Ornithology 119: 712-716.

Flockhart, DTT & Wiebe, KL. 2007. The role of weather and migration in assortative pairing within the northern flicker (Colaptes auratus) hybrid zone. Evolutionary Ecology Research 9: 887-903.

Seidensticker, MT, Flockhart, DTT, Holt, DW & Gray, K. 2006. Growth and plumage development of nestling Long-eared Owls. Condor 108: 981-985.

Tyler Flockhart (co-supervisor: Dr. Martin)

PhD Candidate (2009-present)

MSc: University of Saskatchewan

BSc: University of Alberta


Most animal populations have distinct breeding and non-breeding seasons,

yet the implications of seasonality on dynamics of populations and the

evolutionary consequences of such changes are not well understood.

For my PhD, I developed an experimental model system using Drosophila

melanogaster to simulate two distinct breeding and non-breeding season and

mathematical models to examine the ecological and evolutionary consequences

of seasonality. Using this experimental system, which has density dependence

operating in both seasons, I have shown that a decrease in body condition caused

by high density at the beginning of the non-breeding season (i.e. density mediated

carry-over effects) carries-over to the following breeding season and interact

with density dependence to determine per capita breeding output. Such

interactions can stabilize long-term population dynamics and decrease

population size. Preliminary results with my seasonal model system also suggest

that seasonality has resulted in life-history trade-offs that changed the dynamics

of populations.


Betini, GS, Griswold, CG & Norris, DR. 2013. Carry-over effects, sequential

density dependence and the dynamics of populations in a seasonal

environment. Proceedings of the Royal Society, London: Biological

Sciences 280: 20130110.

Betini, GS & Norris, DR. 2012. The relationship between personality and plasticity

in Tree swallow aggression and the consequences for reproductive success.

Animal Behaviour 83: 137-143

Betini, GS, Hobson, KA, Wassenaar, L & Norris, DR. 2009. Stable-hydrogen isotope

values in songbird nestlings: effects of temperature, body size, and diet.

Canadian Journal of Zoology 87: 767-772.

Accordi, IA, Betini, GS, Barcellos-Silveira, A & Pacheco, JF. 2005. Digital

Bibliography of Brazilian Ornithology V. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia


Accordi, IA, Barcellos-Silveira, A, Pacheco, JF, Betini, GS. 2005. Digital Bibliography of Brazilian Ornithology IV.

Ararajuba 13: 117-121.

Accordi, IA, Barcellos-Silveira, A, Pacheco, JF, Betini, GS. 2004. Bibliografia Digital da Ornitologia Brasileira III.

Ararajuba 12: 159-164.

Betini, GS, Pacheco, JF, Aleixo, A, Lima, FCT. 1998. New records extend the know range of the Henna-capped

Foliage-glenaer (Hylocryptus rectirostris) southeastward (Passeriformes: Furnariidae). Ararajuba 6: 145-146.

Book chapters

Nunes, MFC, Betini, GS. 2002. Métodos de estimativa e abundância de psitacídeos. In Galetti, M. e Pizo, M.A.

Ecologia e conservação de psitacídeos no Brasil. Melapsittacus Publicações Científicas. Belo Horizonte-MG. 235 p.

Gustavo Betini (co-supervisor: Griswold)

PhD Candidate (2009-present)

MSc: University of São Paulo, Brazil

BSc: University of São Paulo, Brazil


Talia Sechley

MSc Candidate (2011-present)

BSc: University of British Columbia



For my MSc research, I am investigating the influence of autumn temperatures on reproductive success in the declining Gray jay population in Algonquin Park, ON. Using a combination of experimental and observation studies, I am examining the link between autumn temperature and the spoilage of cached food that is stored and used by the jays over the winter months, as this food is likely integral in the ability of females to meet late-winter breeding season metabolic requirements. I am also addressing the relationship between weight gain, timing of breeding and breeding success. My research will shed light on a potential mechanism by which climate change is influencing the decline of a population at the southern edge of its range.

(See full profiles below)

Dr. Dmitry Kishkinev, NSERC Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-present)

Dr. David Bradley, NSERC IRDF Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-present)

Gustavo Betini, PhD Candidate (2009-present)

Tyler Flockhart, PhD Candidate (2009-present)

Talia Sechley, MSc Candidate (2011-present)

Rachael Derbyshire, MSc Candidate (2012-present)

Jesse Pakkala, MSc Cadidate (2013-present, co-advised with Amy Newman)

Rachael Derbyshire

MSc Candidate (2012-present)

BSc: University of Guelph



For my MSc research, I am examining whether females Gray Jays are food limited during the pre-breeding period by supplementing food on treatment territories. Gray Jays nest during the late winter and rely on cached food during the breeding period. I am currently conducting my first field season in Algonquin Park. My undergrad thesis examined whether monarch butterflies are true navigators (see publication below)


Mouritsen, H, Derbyshire, R, Stakkeicken, J, Frost, B,

Mouritsen, O & Norris, DR. 2013. An experimental displacement

and over 50 years of tagged-recoveries show that monarch

butterflies are not true navigators. In press: Proceedings of the

National Academy of Sciences, USA (undergraduate thesis)

Dr. Dmitry Kishkinev

Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-present)

PhD: University of Oldenburg, Germany

MSc: St Petersburg State University, Russia


The question how migratory birds can find the way to their wintering grounds and back as well as how they can correct for large-scale displacements have puzzled researchers for decades. For my PhD, I conducted a series of experiments with migrating Eurasian reed warblers to elicit their navigational mechanisms. As a result, my co-workers and myself found that (1) reed warblers are able to compensate for a 1,000 km displacement due east, (2) they are unlikely to use time zone or jet lag effect for detection of east-west position, but (3) they do need intact trigeminal nerve to be able to detect their position. This, in turn, indicates that some map-related information is transmitted through trigeminal nerve into the brain. During my PhD, I also participated in various projects focused on studying magnetoreception in birds.  

For my current research at Guelph, I will be examining two hypotheses to explain the sensory mechanisms used by migratory birds in long-distance navigation: (1) birds may use the Earth's magnetic field parameters perceived by a magnetosensitive organ in the upper beak (the so-called beak organ) and transmitted into the brain via the trigeminal nerve or (2) they may use olfactory cues perceived by olfactory receptors. To do this, I will examine whether songbirds can compensate for cross-continental displacement when either their beak organ or smell system is deactivated.

Selected Publications

Kishkinev, D., Mouritsen, H. & Mora, C.V. 2012. An attempt to develop an operant conditioning paradigm to test for magnetic discrimination behaviour in a migratory songbird. Journal of Ornithology 153: 1165-1177. 

Chernetsov, N., Kishkinev, D., Kosarev, V., & Bolshakov, C.V. 2011. Not all songbirds calibrate their magnetic compass from twilight cues: a telemetry study. Journal of Experimental Biology 214: 2540-2543.

Hein, C.M., Engels, S., Kishkinev, D. & Mouritsen, H. 2011. Robins have a magnetic compass in both eyes. Nature 471: E11.

Kishkinev, D., Chernetsov, N. & Mouritsen, H. 2010. A double clock or jetlag mechanism is unlikely to be involved in detection of east-west displacements in a long-distance avian migrant. The Auk 127: 773-780.

Zapka, M., Heyers, D., Hein, C.M., Engels, S., Schneider, N.-L., Hans, J., Weiler, S., Dreyer, D., Kishkinev, D., Wild, M. & Mouritsen, H. (2009) Visual, but not trigeminal, mediation of magnetic compass information in a migratory bird. Nature 461: 1274-1277.

Chernetsov, N., Kishkinev, D. & Mouritsen, H. (2008) A long-distance avian migrant compensates for longitudinal displacement during spring migration. Current Biology 18: 188-190.

Chernetsov, N., Kishkinev, D., Gashkov, S., Kosarev, S. & Bolshakov C. 2008. Orientation programme of first-year pied flycatchers Ficedula hypoleuca from Siberia implies an innate detour around Central Asia. Animal Behavior 75: 539-545.

Mukhin, A., Chernetsov, N., & Kishkinev, D. 2008. Acoustic information as a distant cue for habitat recognition by nocturnally migrating passerines. Behavioral Ecology 19: 716-723.

Selected Publications

Laughlin, A, Taylor, CM, Bradley, DW, LeClair, D, Whittingham, L, Dunn, PO, Horn, A, Leonard, M, Shutler, D,

Dawson, R, Clark, RG, Sheldon, DR, Winkler, DW, & Norris, DR. 2013. Integrating information from geolocators,

weather radar and citizen science data to confirm a key stopover area during fall migration for an aerial insectivore.

In press: The Auk

Bradley, DW, Molles, LE & Waas, JR. 2013. Local–foreign dialect discrimination and responses to mixed-

dialect duets in the North Island kōkako. Behavioral Ecology 24: 570-578.

Bradley, DW, Molles, LE, Valderrama, SV, King, S  & Waas, JR. 2012. Factors affecting post-release dispersal,

mortality, and territory settlement of endangered kokako translocated from two distinct song

neighborhoods. Biological Conservation 147: 79-86.

Bradley, DW, Ninnes, CE, Valderrama, SV & Waas, JR. 2011. Does 'acoustic anchoring' reduce post-translocation

dispersal of North Island robins? Wildlife Research 38: 69-76.

Bradley, DW and Mennill, DJ. 2009 Strong ungraded responses to playback of solos, duets and choruses in a

cooperatively breeding Neotropical songbird. Animal Behaviour 77: 1321-1327.

Bradley, DW and Mennill, DJ. 2009 Solos, duets and choruses: vocal behaviour of the Rufous-naped Wren

(Campylorhynchus rufinucha), a cooperatively breeding Neotropical songbird. Journal of Ornithology 150:


Hennin, HL, Barker, NKS, Bradley, DW & Mennill, DJ. 2009. Bachelor and paired male rufous-and-white wrens use

different singing strategies. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 64:151-159.

My research focuses on understanding how behavioral variation within and between individuals can influence the success of conservation management decisions. For my PhD, I studied vocal variation and conservation of an endangered and endemic New Zealand bird, the North Island Kokako. I examined the influence of vocal dialectal variation in kokako duets on the success of various ongoing conservation measures. For my post-doc, I am interested in understanding the extent to which phenotypic plasticity, the idea that a single genotype may give rise to multiple phenotypes, can influence an animals ability to respond to rapid environmental change. Migratory birds, in particular those that feed on aerial insects, are declining worldwide, and determining the extent to which migratory and reproductive behaviors in this group are flexible versus genetically hard-wired is important for understanding their resilience to human-induced environmental change and their probability of long-term survival. Co-advised by Dr. Norris and Bird Studies Canada, I am investigating phenotypic plasticity in Tree Swallows at Long Point, ON. My main goal is to examine how resource abundance, local weather and temperature conditions, and broad-scale climatic variation influence migratory behaviors such as the timing arrival and departure, and reproductive decisions such as clutch size and nest-site and partner fidelity. I am also collaborating on a large-scale project using light-logging devices attached to Tree swallows throughout North America to examine variation in migration routes, stop-over and staging behaviour, and over-wintering locations.

Dr. David Bradley

NSERC IRDF Postdoctoral Fellow (2012-present)

PhD: Waikato University, New Zealand

MSc: University of Windsor


Jesse Pakkala (co-supervisor: Dr. Newman)

MSc Candidate (2013-present)

BSc: University of Guelph



For my MSc, I am studying the effects of early-life acute stress on fitness in a population of Savannah Sparrows breeding on Kent Island, NB. Using a combination of field experiments and observational data, I am examining the relationship between early life stress and subsequent survival during both the post-fledging and pre-migratory periods.  I am also fitting birds with geolocators during autumn migration to examine whether early life stress influences migratory behaviour.  For my honours thesis at Guelph, I experimentally assessed the capture-restraint protocol for estimating the acute stress response under natural conditions.


Pakkala, J, Norris, DR & Newman, AEM. 2013. An

experimental test of the capture-restraint protocol for estimating

the acute stress response. Physiological & Biochemical

Zoology 86: 279-284. (undergraduate thesis)