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Hornbills and Cavity Nesters

Prof. Mark Stanback conducting field research with students
Professor of Biology Mark Stanback conducting hornbill research in Namibia with his student and collaborator, David Millican '11. Also pictured, a researcher with the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and a CCF intern.

Prof. Mark Stanback of the Biology Department considers himself an avian behavioral ecologist, which means he works at the intersection of animal behavior, evolutionary biology, and ecology. Here in Davidson he and his students focus on the behavioral ecology of cavity nesting birds such as Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. For example, in summer 2017 he and Logan Morris '19 investigated the decision rules of settling Tree Swallows and tested if they preferentially nested near kin. On the bluebird front, Cameron Dove '19 asked if females use visual/tactile cues to signal the cessation of egg-laying and if additional eggs in the nest lower hatching success.

Stanback also has an ongoing research program in Namibia focusing on hatching asynchrony and sperm storage. He spent spring 2017 on sabbatical at a study site at the Cheetah Conservation Fund studying how female hornbills allocate energy to egg production. He will return to Namibia in spring 2018 to revisit sperm storage and explore further parental investment in these unusual birds. Read more about his research.