Dave Wilson is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and Biology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. His research focuses on the interplay among animal communication, antipredator behaviour, and sexual selection. Most of his research focuses on birds, but he has also worked with squirrels, frogs, and marine invertebrates. He received his PhD from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, and his post-doctoral training from the University of Windsor. In 2014, he joined the faculty at Memorial University, where he teaches courses in introductory psychology and animal behaviour.

Graduate Students

Kaylee Busniuk 3

Kaylee Busniuk joined the lab in 2017 after completing her BSc at Lakehead University. As a MSc student in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program, she is investigating kleptoparasitism of Atlantic puffins by herring gulls in Newfoundland’s Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.

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Jessika Lamarre joined the lab in 2019 as an MSc student in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program. She is using comparative and experimental research to investigate the the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on avian cognition. The experimental component involves developing ring-billed gulls in the St. Lawrence River.

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Miguel Mejias joined the lab in 2017 after completing a BSc at Trent University and an  MSc on tropicbirds at Memorial University. His new research investigates the evolution of song in the Vireonidae and, in particular, in the Bermudian white-eyed vireo. He is a PhD student in the Biology program.

Katrina Shwedack2

Katrina Shwedack completed her BSc at Lakehead University, and then joined the lab as a M.Sc. student in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program in May of 2017. She is investigating the effects of anthropogenic noise on the songs of dark-eyed juncos, and how the resulting changes in song structure affect signal efficacy.

Chirathi Wijekulathilaka

Chirathi Wijekulathilaka joined our group as an MSc student in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program in May 2018 after completing a BSc at the University of Colombo. Her Honours thesis with Dr. Sampath Seneviratne focused on geographic variation in genetic, morphological, and behavioural traits in populations of dark-fronted babblers in India and Sri Lanka. For her MSc research, Chirathi is investigating ecological, morphological, and behavioural predictors of fitness in dark-eyed juncos in Newfoundland. 

Former Lab Members

Former Graduate Students

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Jeffrey Ethier joined the lab in 2016 after completing his BSc in Biology at Trent University. His research used a new microphone array technology to ascertain the habitat and microhabitat preferences of landbird species at risk in the boreal forest of Labrador. He completed his MSc in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program in fall 2018.

Bronwen Hennigar began her MSc in the Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology program in 2016 after completing an undergraduate degree in Biology at Trent University. Her research used an experimental approach to disentangle the effects of anthropogenic light and sound on the altered singing and spatial behaviour of birds in Labrador. Bronwen completed her program in fall 2018.

Former Honours Thesis Students

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Jessica O’Dea, Department of Psychology, 2018–2019. Jessica tested whether traffic noise impairs reproduction in dark-eyed juncos. Although noise was not associated with hatching success, it was correlated with nestling surivival, suggesting that noise interferes with parent-offspring communication.

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Jordan Sutton, Department of Biology, 2018. Jordan used microphone array technology to investigate the relationship between territory size and the acoustic structure of territorial rattles in North American red squirrels.

Nick Brown

Nick Brown, Department of Psychology, 2016–2017.  Nick showed that orange-footed sea cucumbers adjust antipredator behaviour in response to hydrodynamic conditions as a way of balancing predation risk with the risk of being washed ashore. His research was co-supervised by Dr. Pat Gagnon.

Mohammad Fahmy

Mohammad Fahmy, Department of Biology, 2016–2017. Mohammad used microphone arrays, focal recordings, and playbacks to study the vocal behaviour of ruby-crowned kinglets in Labrador. This 6.5-g bird produces a loud and complex song and, occasionally, displays its fiery red crest to intruders.

Beth Fraser, Department of Psychology, 2016–2017. Beth used a meta-anaysis to investigate mate choice in birds. She showed that a female’s preferences are affected by the amount of time that she has to assess prospective mates in the context of a mate choice experiment.

Gillian Lambert, Department of Biology, 2016–2017. Gillan used social network analysis and hormone assays to investigate personality traits in transient groups of dogs at a dog park. Her research was co-supervised by Dr. Carolyn Walsh.

Scott Taylor, Department of Psychology, 2016–2017. Scott investigated whether sex differences in the begging behaviour of juvenile puffins account for differences in how male and female chicks are fed. Scott’s research was co-supervised by Dr. Anne Storey.

Former Research Assistants

Brianna Hepditch, WISE NL Program, 2017. Brianna assisted with a project investigating the effects of anthropogenic light and noise on the singing and spatial behaviour of songbirds in Labrador. She also assisted with projects on dark-eyed juncos and avian habitat and microhabitat selection. 

Will Balsom, Research Technician, 2016–2017. Will developed a software program that automatically localizes sounds recorded with a microphone array in 3-dimensional space. The software has become a critical part of the lab's research.

Laura Cadigan, Memorial University Career Experience Program, 2016. Laura assisted with a project that focused on the effects of anthropogenic light and sound on birdsong. She scanned long audio recordings from Labrador and extracted the songs of dark-eyed juncos.

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Julie Carberry, Memorial University Career Experience Program, 2015. Julie helped to collect and analyze data for a project on the antipredator behaviour of orange-footed sea cucubmers.

Kristie Earles, WISE NL Program, 2016. Kristie assisted with our Labrador project, which used microphone arrays to understand the habitat and microhabitat preferences of birds. She helped to organize and analyze over 4000 hours of audio recordings. 

Victoria Mackey, NSERC USRA Program and Memorial University Career Experience Program, 2017–2018. Victoria developed a software approach to determine the amplitude of the songs of many species of birds that were recorded in Labrador with a microphone array. The findings provide important insight into the transmission, function, and evolution of song.

Arielle Przybysz

Arielle Przybysz, Student Volunteer and Memorial University Career Experience Program, 2015–2017. Arielle contributed to several projects, including our investigation of how noise-induced changes to song structure affect signal efficacy in dark-eyed juncos. She assisted with setting up microphone arrays and capturing birds in the field, and she helped organize and analyze the resulting data in the lab.

Cameron Pye

Cameron PyeMemorial University Career Experience Program, 2015. Cameron helped to set up and calibrate a new microphone array technology that we then used to study birds in Labrador the following year.

Nicole Vatcher

Nicole Vatcher, WISE NL Program, 2015. Nicole conducted research on several projects, but worked primarily on characterizing the fine structure of North American red squirrel rattles.

Emily Wells, Faculty of Science Undergraduate Research Award Program, 2015. Emily was the first member of the our lab. She helped to establish a field site for studying chickadees, and she conducted a phylogenetic analysis of song structure in New World warblers.

© Dave Wilson 2016