Fran Bonier, Assistant Professor
My research interests are broad and varied, from ecology to behavior, physiology to evolution. In general, all of this varied work is organized by one theme: response to challenges. I am fascinated by the challenging conditions that organisms face, and the myriad ways that they respond to those challenges. In addition to being a biologist, I am also a mom to two boys and an amateur equestrian.
Sarena Olson, MSc student
I am interested in how parental life history events can affect
offspring, specifically how the presence and degree of parasitism in
adults can affect their
offspring’s growth, development, and response to infection later in
life. I have chosen to study avian malaria in red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus)
and to look specifically at the maternal effects of this disease on
future generations in the field. To look at these effects, we are
conducting large-scale field experiments in a population with
exceptionally high rates of infection with avian malaria.
Liam Harrison, MSc student
Environmental factors such as temperature play a major role in shaping
individuals, populations, and ecosystems. For my MSc thesis, I am describing plasticity in
life history traits of a species of burying beetle, Nicrophorus orbicollis,
facing natural variation in temperature. I am also measuring the
fitness correlates of this plasticity. This species is ideal for my
research because it is sensitive to changes in temperature and exhibits
biparental care - a form of parental care that is relatively rare in
the insect world. My work will contribute to our understanding of how
recent and future climate change might affect this species, and
ectotherms more generally.
JieYuen Ong, MSc student
Amelia Cox, MSc student
I am broadly interested in how humans are impacting
the other species that surround us, often by causing population
declines. Tree swallows are members of a guild of birds that forage on
flying insects (i.e., aerial insectivores), many of which are in
decline across the globe. Tree swallows are an ideal focal species for
testing hypotheses to explain population declines because we have
monitored a box-nesting population of tree swallows at the Queen’s
University Biological Station for breeding success and individual
metrics like timing of breeding, disease status, growth rate, body
condition, and survival since 1975, spanning before and during periods
of population decline. My MSc research aims to identify likely
demographic and environmental causes of tree swallow population decline.
Ivana Schoepf, Postdoctoral associate
I am an evolutionary biologist particularly interested in behavioural endocrinology. My primary research aims to understand adaptive phenotypic plasticity in individuals facing severe challenges, being environmental or parasitic in nature. My research is mostly empirical and typically employs the use of field experiments performed in wild species in their natural environment. I typically employ a multi-disciplinary approach to tackle my questions, often looking at proximate mechanisms and ultimate reasons leading to individuals displaying certain traits. Some of the topics I have addressed so far include: sociality (mating systems in particular), dispersal, life-history trade-offs, performance, and personality.
Currently I am working on maternal effects and host-parasite interactions in the Bonier lab. My work is aimed at understanding how haemosporidian parasitic infections change across life stages, and how parasites from different genera interact within a single host, ultimately affecting its fitness. To do so, I am experimentally medicating wild red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) in a population with an exceptionally high prevalence of avian malaria, to treat their infections, and measure medication effects on behaviour and reproduction of adults as well as growth, physiology, immune function, behaviour, and survival of their offspring. Overall, this research aims to understand how infection impact fitness and reproduction. Find out more about my research here.
Kennedy Everitt, BSc Honours Thesis Student
Zoe Walter, BSc Honours Thesis & NSERC USRA Student