sealPurdue Animal Ecology Experts

Animal behavior/birds

Jeffrey R. Lucas

Associate professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-8112

Is an expert in the area of foraging behavior and food hoarding in birds, and how these behaviors relate to energy regulation. Is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Naturalists, the American Society of Zoologists, the Animal Behavior Society, the Ecological Society of America, and the International Society for Behavioral Ecology.

Animal behavior/toads

Richard D. Howard

(765) 494-8136

Studies how traits that function primarily in the acquisition of mates (rather than in the struggle for survival) could provide reproductive advantages. Works with American toads to study the mechanisms of mate choice in females, such as vocal characteristics of males that influence females' mate choice, and the benefits obtained by females due to mate choice.

Conservation/sea turtles

Frank V. Paladino

Professor, biology, IU-PU Fort Wayne
(219) 481-6304

Research focuses on the ecology of sea turtles, including leatherbacks, loggerheads and Kemp's ridleys. Has investigated how leatherback turtles regulate body temperature in cold and warm waters. Has used satellite tracking devices to monitor movements of endangered sea turtles. Is working to establish a national conservation area in Costa Rica. Directing a graduate student to reintroduce peregrine falcons in Indiana.

Alan H. Rebar

Professor, clinical pathology
Dean, School of Veterinary Medicine
(765) 494-7608

Is one of the world's leading experts on the clinical pathology of the sea otter. Clinical pathology uses laboratory techniques to treat disease. Was an expert witness for the U.S. Department of Justice on environmental and animal damage done by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska. Is a member of the American Society for Veterinary Clinical Pathologists, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association for the Advancement of Science. Is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Received the 1994 Gaines Fido Award from American Animal Hospital Association for contributions in diagnostic cytology and veterinary hematology (study of responses of circulating blood cells in disease). Started Purdue's Veterinary Cytology Resource Center, which houses a photograph and microscopic slide collection designed to train veterinarians in using a noninvasive technique, based on examining cells, to diagnose animal diseases.

Environmental hazards/sea otters (con't)

Paul W. Snyder

Assistant professor, toxicologic pathology
(765) 494-9676

Has expertise in evaluating the immune systems of animals and directs a clinical immunology lab where he analyzes samples from animals across the country. Is studying the effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill on Alaskan sea otters. Identified an enzyme in sea otters that metabolizes aromatic hydrocarbons, which may indicate the level of oil exposure in the animals. Applies techniques he developed for evaluating sea otter health to river otters in Indiana.


Kerry N. Rabenold

Professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-8120

Studies the effects on bird communities of human disturbance on forests, as well as the effects that variation in ecological conditions, migration and habitat fragmentation have on the biodiversity of birds. Has found that old growth forests in the United States contain up to 50 percent more songbird species and 50 percent more individual birds than do similar second-growth sites. Has tracked neotropical bird populations in Great Smoky Mountain National Park and thrush populations in the Midwest.

Population ecology

Peter N. Waser

Professor, biological sciences
(765) 494-8129

Expert on the dispersal, mating systems, social behavior and population structure of mammals. Studies focus on the ecological and demographic causes of dispersal -- how animals space themselves within a population -- and the consequences of this phenomenon for social behavior and population structure. Uses DNA fingerprinting to determine the rates and consequences of inbreeding in the field and to measure genetic variation in small populations. Also studies social interactions such as dominance hierarchies, territoriality, mating systems and submissive behavior. Current studies focus on the bannertailed kangaroo rat in Arizona. Other current projects include investigations of diving behavior in Arctic ringed seals, the causes of population decline in kangaroo rats, the role of vocalizations as reproductive isolating mechanisms in African forest monkeys, and the effects of habitat acoustics on primate vocalizations. Students also are currently investigating dispersal and its relationship to behavior and population structure in Yellowstone red foxes and white-footed mice.

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