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Mark Stanback


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley (Zoology)
B.S. Davidson College (Biology)


As a behavioral ecologist, I am particularly interested in teaching and learning about the interactions between evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and ecology. Consequently, I am able to bring a range of experiences to my teaching of introductory biology, animal behavior, vertebrate zoology, evolutionary biology, and, most recently, evolutionary medicine.

Although I am also conducting research on cavity-nesting birds in Namibia and South Africa, my research students focus on a number of species in the Davidson area. Using Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, Brown-headed Nuthatches, and Carolina Chickadees, we investigate nest site competition, brood parasitism, nest site selection, and behavioral plasticity.


Here in Davidson, my students and I monitor several hundred nest boxes within a 15-minute radius of campus. We have boxes on multiple local golf courses, corporate campuses, and parks. With weekly monitoring of these nest boxes in the spring and summer, my students gain a variety of research experiences as we together investigate several research questions.

Additionally, through a collaboration with Virginia Tech, one of my summer students focuses on the behavioral endocrinology of Tree Swallows nesting near campus.

Further afield, I am collaborating with the Nature Conservancy to test whether providing nest boxes in managed young longleaf pine stands can "jump-start" the colonization of these snag-free habitats by Brown-headed Nuthatches.

Finally, in Africa and India I am using spatial arrays of nest boxes to identify cavity-nesting species most (and least) vulnerable to the loss of large cavity-bearing trees. I am also investigating the roles played by honey bees and honeyguides in maintaining the availability of these cavities for hornbills, rollers, parrots, owlets, and others.


BIO 112 Organisms, Evolution, and Ecosystems
BIO 222 Vertebrate Zoology
BIO 223 Animal Behavior
BIO 232 Vertebrate Natural History
BIO 233 Behavioral Ecology
BIO 264 Evolutionary Medicine
BIO 342 Evolutionary Biology