Kathryn E. Sieving

Department of Wildlife Ecology & Conservation

University of Florida, Gainesville


B.Sc.  Wildlife, Fish, & Conservation Biology, U California-Davis

Ph.D. Ecology, Ethology, & Evolution, U Illinois-Urbana-Champaign


Publications             How I Work – Interview by Rhett Barker


Sieving Lab Research Interests


My research program focuses on conserving forest biodiversity, especially birds, in disturbed, fragmented, urbanized, and otherwise human-dominated landscapes in historically forested biomes.  Conceptually, my lab’s work is rooted in behavioral, community, and landscape ecology. Functionally, the over-riding theme in my lab that applies to all of us is ‘effective conservation science via rigorous research design’.  Ecosystems are complex and difficult to understand, and conservation is emotionally pressing; but standards of rigor in conservation science must be high. Beyond that, my graduate, undergraduate, and post-doctoral scholars’ interests take us in a variety of directions, as the philosophy of mentoring in my lab is that ‘it’s your degree and your future - so take the reins’!


Currently, I am working on a major project that holistically addresses the causes and consequences of the extraordinary vocal complexity of chickadees and titmice. With Todd Freeberg (lead PI: UT-Knoxville) and Jeff Lucas (Purdue) we are testing three major hypotheses for the causes (social, habitat, and predation risk complexity) of variation in vocal complexity. My focus is also on understanding what effects parid vocal output has on eavesdropping animals. Conservation-related questions that integrate with information ecology are of particular interest.


Sieving Lab News-Wire


Sieving-Lab Alumni in the World

·        Dr. Eduardo Silva (PhD 2012) moves into a faculty position in Conservation Planning at U Austral, Chile (2018). Suerte Eduardo! - link

·        Dr. Willandia Chaves (PhD 2016) begins a post doc with David Wilcove at Princeton University in 2018. Congrats Willa!  - link

·        Dr. Jackson Frechette (PhD 2014) leads an innovative Cambodian livelihood and conservation program for Fauna and Flora International. ­- link

·        Dr. Fangyuan Hua (PhD 2013) earns a Newton International Fellowship, British Royal Society for work on global impacts of land use change. - link


What we learned in 2017-18!

·        Species distribution models seriously underestimate forest bird ranges!  (Where fragmentation is an issue).

o   Diversity and Distributions (link)

·        People in the Amazon will choose to eat less bushmeat! (If they are included in community-building events that reinforce education).

o   Conservation Letters (link)

·        Prey (bluebirds) closely track local variations in their predators’ (accipiter) behaviors!  (Apparently, they know about life history theory, too…)

o   Ecoscience (link)

·        Forest fragment-raised birds are more “street-smart”! (They navigate fragmented landscapes better than naïve deep-forest birds.)

o   Perspectives in ecology and conservation (link)

·        Groups with high diversity act smarter! (More diverse bird groups solve foraging puzzles more easily than less diverse groups).

o   Scientific Reports (link)


Sieving Lab - Anchor Project Areas


Animal Information Landscapes



When the titmouse speaks, everybody listens!   We’ve discovered that the Eastern Tufted Titmouse encodes a high diversity of reliable and distinctive information about predation threats they perceive in their alarm calls and other vocalizations (including their chip calls).  Many other species not only know the titmouse code, they change their behaviors in accordance with the degree of threat conveyed in those calls.  We are exploring many aspects of parid ‘info-scapes’.  See Publications list. 








This work has been funded by National Science Foundation; University of Florida; Animal Behavior Society; others.


Behavioral Landscape Ecology of Forest Animals 


Principles of Behavioral Landscape Ecology are fundamental to understanding the distribution and viability of wildlife populations.  Behavioral mechanisms help determine spatial distributions of animals and their responses to landscape change (short and long term) and disturbance.  We use behavioral ecology to understand animal movements, activities, and distribution in disturbed landscapes. We have found that landscape connectivity is defined by a species’ behavioral perceptions of risks and rewards in spatial decision-making, and is greatly influenced by spatial configuration of habitat and also what other species are doing nearby at local and landscape scales.  See Publications.  Figure is from Cornelius et al. 2017.








This work has been funded by NGS; NSF; USP; Disney; UF; Animal Behavior Soc; Conservation Leadership Program; US Fish & Wildlife Service; others.


The Sieving Lab Today


·       Kristen Malone, PhD. Avian and predator community response to large-scale hardwood reduction.

·       Sarah Obaid, PhD. Monitoring wetland restoration using bioacoustic metrics.

·       Bobbi Carpenter, MSc. Wild turkey spatial behavior during nesting.

·       Jin Bai, MSc. Avian aggression across the urban-wildland interface.

·       Mary Mack Gray. MSc. Regional genetics of brown-headed nuthatch populations.

·       Pete Monte, MSc. Parid leadership in predator mobbing dynamics – behavioral and acoustic analysis.

·       Aaron Aguila, BSc. Salmonella incidence in bird feeders.

·       Zach Holmes, BSc. G.R.E.B.E. president and research volunteer.

·       Izzy Garcia, BSc. G.R.E.B.E. officer and research volunteer.

·       Jennifer Franklin, BSc. Research volunteer.

·       Odile Maurelli, BSc. Grad Cornell U, Research volunteer.


Study Species of the Sieving lab


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/76/Bachmanssparrow.jpg/220px-Bachmanssparrow.jpg   http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/PHOTO/LARGE/carolina_chickadee_4.jpg      Image result for wild turkey  Image result for rat snake with quail egg  Image result for salmonella  Related image



For Prospective Graduate Students & Post Docs: 


To be considered for a position in my lab, please send …

·       A clear, brief email of career goals and research interests that relate to lab interests.

·       A current curriculum vita indicating relevant coursework, GPA, experience, publications, and GRE scores.

·       Please read over websites pertaining to the graduate programs in WEC and SNRE at UF, and indicate which one is best for you.

·       Please explore the following links and address funding issues in your inquiry.

o   University of Florida - $  /  NSF Graduate Fellowships GRFP - $  /  Fulbright Scholar Program - $

o   McKnight Fellowships - $  /  Wildlife Conservation Society - $  /  ProFellow - $

·       And please read everything on this page!!! 

o   WEC Admission Guidelines


Courses Developed & Taught


Current courses


·       WIS 4934 Wildlife Behavior and Conservation - Fall

·       WIS 5496 Research Design in Wildlife Ecology & Conservation - Fall

·       WIS 4547c  Avian Field Research (pictured) – Spring


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Past courses

·       WIS 4/6934 Ancient Bird Language for Modern Naturalists (field course in animal behavior)

·       WIS 6934 Networking Women in Sustainability Science (online course)

·       WIS 3403c  Perspectives in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

·       WIS 4934-Honors / Becoming Ecological Natives in the Anthropocene

·       Research Design in Conservation Biology – 1 week short course

o   Co-taught with Lyn Branch in Acre, Brazil;

o   with Nilmini Jayasena and Fangyuan Hua in Kandy, Sri Lanka

·       Design of Social-Ecological Research Studies – 1 week short course

o   Co-taught w/ Mickie Swisher (UF) in Argentina;

o   and for OTS in Costa Rica.

·       Natural Resource Conservation; Wildlife Ecology and Management; Ornithology; Conservation Biology

·       Biodiversity Conservation: Global Perspectives; Field Ecology; Attaining a Sustainable Society; Resilience in Living Systems


Sieving Lab Alumni and their current activities.                                          Updated Jan 2018



·       Dr. Leila Kalantari, Post Doc (2018). Machine learning algorithms applied to acoustic data retrieval (UF Informatics Institute Fellow).

·       Dr. Rajeev Pillay, Post Doc (Summer 2016). Regional variation in vocal complexity in Paridae (NSF-funded).

·       Dr. Dara Wald, Post Doc (Spring 2013). Taught “Networking Women in Sustainability” (NSF-funded).  Asst. Professor, Iowa State U.

·       Dr. Thomas A. Contreras, Post Doc (2002-2006).  Ecology of winter flocks (USDA, NSF Postdoc). Professor, Wash-Jefferson U.   

·       Dr. Kevina Vulinec, Post Doc (2000-2002).  Fire ecology and restoration (USDA). Professor, Delaware State University. 

·       Dr. Joan L. Morrison, Post Doc (1999).  Landscape ecology of nest predators (Ford Foundation.) Professor (retired) Trinity College. 


Ph.D. Students

·       Dr. Rosalyn Johnson, Ph.D. 2016. Native bee communities and pollen foraging in organic farm-scapes. CEO, YardBio.org.

·       Dr. Willandia Chaves-Didier, Ph.D. 2016. Wildlife trade, hunting, and game consumption in the Amazon. Post doc at Princeton.

·       Dr. Jackson Frechette, Ph.D. 2014. Apes, seed dispersal, tropical tree regeneration. Flora and Fauna International, Cambodia.

·       Dr. Fangyuan Hua, Ph.D. 2013. Forest degradation and bird conservation.  Post-docs: (1) Princeton, (2) Cambridge.

·       Dr. Eduardo Silva, Ph.D. 2012.  Chilean wildlife conflicts w/ domestic carnivores. Faculty Universidad Austral, Valdivia, Chile.

·       Dr. Iván A. Díaz, Ph.D. 2008. Epiphyte–bird interactions in Chilean rainforest. Faculty Universidad Austral, Valdivia Chile.

·       Dr. Matthew J. Reetz, Ph.D.  2008.  Invasion of brown-headed cowbirds in Florida. ED for Madison WI Audubon Society.

·       Dr. Traci D. Castellón, Ph.D.  2005.  Avian landscape ecology and sustainable patch networks. Biologist, FFWCC.

·       Dr. John J. Kappes, Ph.D.  2004.  Heterospecific use of red-cockaded woodpecker cavities.  Independent consultant.

·       Dr. Gregory A. Jones, Ph.D.  2003.  Integrating bird conservation and farming. Faculty Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida. 


M.Sc. Students

·       Harrison Jones, M.Sc. 2016. Traits and factors predicting reliance on socially derived anti-predator information in winter flocking species. Starting UF PhD Biology Fall 2016.

·       Aaron Grade, MSc. 2015. Soundscape ecology: avian information restriction caused by road noise. Starting a PhD in Fall 2015 at U Mass, Amherst.

·       Kaan Kerman, MSc. 2015. Behavioral syndromes in an invasive species, Monk parakeet. Starting a PhD in Fall 2015 at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg.

·       Amanda Abel, MSc. 2014. Florida scrub jay landscape ecology; patch occupancy and barriers to movement in Ocala Nat’l Forest. GIS Analyst, Quest Ecology, FL.

·       Elizabeth White, MSc. 2014. Florida scrub jay anti-predator behavior.  Currently PhD student in SNRE/WEC.

·       Ping Huang, M.Sc. 2010. Effects of social information on bird exploratory behavior. Doctoral student in Biology, U Florida, with Collette St. Mary.

·       Willandia Chaves-Didier, M.Sc. 2009. Wildlife and logging in Acre, Brasil. (PhD candidate in my lab).

·       John J. DeLuca, M.Sc. 2008. Are farms ecological traps for Eastern Bluebirds?  USDA Forest Service.

·       Stacia A. Hetrick, M.Sc. 2006. Vocal signaling of risk by tufted titmice.  With FFWCC; private consulting.

·       Michael P. Milleson, M.Sc.  2005.  Mechanisms of arrested succession in south-temperate rainforest. Disease Biologist at Florida Field Station -- Wildlife Research (USDA), Gainesville, FL. (Lab page).

·       Leonard Santisteban, M.Sc.  2001.  Use of sensory cues by selected avian and mammalian nest predators. PhD, New Mexico State University, 2009.

·       Matthew Reetz, M.Sc.  2000.  The effects of predator identity and capability on nest defense by songbirds. (See above).

·       Heather McPherson, M.Sc.  1999.   Distributional constraints of the ochre-flanked tapaculo, Eugralla paradoxa. Biologist, Washington State Department of Natural Resources.

·       Diana Swan, M.Sc. 1999.  Nesting ecology of three woodpecker species in north Florida longleaf pine forest. Biologist, Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

·       Brian D. C. Williams. M.Sc. 1998.  Distribution, habitat associations, and conservation of CA purple martins. Consultant: Williams Wildland Consulting, and adjunct Faculty with Sierra College, California.

·       Gerard J. McChesney.  M.Sc. 1997. Breeding biology of the Brandt’s cormorant on San Nicolas Island, CA.  Seabird biologist with USFWS in California.


B.Sc. Students

·       Jonathan Argov, BSc. Research Technician. Avian acoustics.

·       Brittany Panos, BSc. Bioacoustics volunteer.  Roving field technician.

·       Adriana Betancourt, BSc. Sparrow nest predation.  White Oak Intern, North Florida.

·       Tannyr Lamica, BSc. Honors 2017. Interactive playback reveals aggressive escalation in vocalizations of tufted titmouse.

·       Lauren Diaz, BSc. In WEC, former NSF-funded research technician. MSc program at Clemson.

·       Jason Lacson, B.Sc. Honors 2015. Design of a camera trap for owls and other raptors using passerine distress calls. Working as a technician.

·       Jordon Davis, B.Sc. 2015. Distance, noise, and habitat complexity effects on spectral tag detection efficiency for parid vocalizations. Working as a technician.

·       Julie Perreau, BSc Honors 2014. Bluebird reproductive responses to different nest boxes and temperature.  Getting her MSc in Europe.

·       Amanda Powell, BSc Honors. 2013. Bluebird reproductive responses to perceived predation risk. Working lots of great internships!

·       Michael Bainum, BSc. 2013. Feral cat camera trapping in urban environs. Working lots of interesting jobs. Published his thesis!

·       Jessica Burnett, B.Sc. 2012. Testing whether actual and perceived landscapes of risk align. Completed MSc in WEC. Starting PhD in Oklahoma, Fall 2015.

·       Kelly Frye, B.Sc. Highest Honors. 2012. Social interactions and homing behavior. Now in UF Vet School.

·       Chelsea Heatherington, B.Sc. Highest Honors. 2011. Homing behavior in forest birds. Recipient NSF GF, now in grad school @ U Texas Austin

·       Derrick Thrasher, B.Sc. Honors. 2011. Painted bunting habitat use in Florida. Recipient NSF GF, now in PhD program @ Cornell.

·       Chloe Wright, B.Sc. Honors. 2010. Predation risk and bluebird reproductive behavior. Started PhD program in US.

·       Montana Atwater, B.Sc., Highest Honors.  2008.  University Scholar.  Native Dragonflies as Ag Pest-Consumers. MSc in UF Entomology; Now doing PhD abroad.

·       Scarlett Howell, B. Sc.  Highest Honors.  2006.  Functionally referential signals in birds. USFWS Biologist, San Diego, California.

·       Elizabeth Farley, B. Sc.  Highest Honors.  2004.  University Scholar.  Characterization of winter bird flocks.  MSc, University of Texas at Tyler, 2009. Doing PhD Texas Tech.

·       John Davis, B.Sc. Highest Honors.  2002. University Scholar.  Defense of roosting cavities by RCWs.  Doctoral Program at UGA Ecology; NSF Graduate Fellow.  US EPA.

·       Justin Gude, B.Sc. Highest Honors.  2000.  Bird-assisted restoration of south-temperate rainforest.  M.Sc. Montana State University (NSF Graduate Fellow); Biologist with State of Montana.

·       Kimberly L. Maute, B.Sc. Honors. 1999.  Forest boundary crossing by mobbing passerines. Finished dissertation in Australia.

·       John P. Justus, B.Sc. Honors.  1998.  Nest predation and oak-pine forest boundaries.  U Colorado School of Law on a Merit Scholarship.  Hoskin, Farina & Kampf, Colorado, USA.

·       Gary M. Langham. B.Sc. Honors. 1995.  Pishing and Parids: a holarctic scolding homology. VP Chief Scientist for National Audubon Society, Washington DC.