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


Publication List        Google Scholar profile              


How I work (interview by Rhett Barker) – [Link]


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 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 to provide trustworthy inferences (causal, predictive, explanatory) people can use. Beyond that, my graduate, undergraduate, and post-doctoral scholars’ interests take us in a variety of conceptual and taxonomic directions, as the philosophy of mentoring in my lab is that ‘it’s your degree and your future - so take the reins’!


Sooper PhotographyCurrently, 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 (mammals and other birds). Conservation-related questions that integrate information ecology are of particular interest to me.



Sieving Lab News-Wire


What we (students, collaborators & me) learned in 2017-18!

·        Male but not female Monk parakeets exhibit social conformity under risk-taking tasks. We tested for boldness in a flock of monks under both social and solitary contexts, and males altered boldness to conform to partners’ behaviors (females did not).  Personality in social species should be tested under social conditions!

o   Behaviour (link)

·        When titmice give the ZZZ hawk alarm, foliage gleaners dive to cover.  Flycatchers show no reaction, probably seeking personal cues of the danger. Hence when it comes to dodging hawk attacks, eavesdropping birds are divided into “Show Me” or “Tell Me” categories of information use.

o   J Animal Ecology (in revision)

·        Communicative complexity (think chickadees and titmice) is key in Machiavellian social manipulation!

o   Comparative Psychology (link coming soon)

·        Mixed species bird flocks (and their nuclear species) are critical conservation targets! Because 20% (likely more) of all bird species forage in flocks.

o   Biological Conservation (link)

·        Species distribution models underestimate actual forest bird ranges!  Where fragmentation is an issue.

o   Diversity and Distributions (link)

·        People in the Amazon will choose to eat less bushmeat!   If included in community-building experiences (think radically fun Cooking Lessons!!) that reinforce education.

o   Conservation Letters (link)

·        Prey (bluebirds) closely track local variations in their predators’ (accipiter) behaviors!  Apparently, blue birds 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 Alumni in the World: 2018 life events

·        Dr. Eduardo Silva (PhD 2012) moves into a faculty position in Conservation Planning at U Austral, Chile. 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 innovative Cambodian livelihood and conservation program for Fauna & Flora International. Great work, Jax! ­- link

·        Dr. Fangyuan Hua (PhD 2013) wins Newton Int’l Fellowship, British Royal Soc. and faculty position offers (TBA). Ur a rising star, Fangyuan! - 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.

·       Demeng Jiang, PhD, Guangxi University, Visiting Scholar (2018-19). Flocking bird behavioral ecology.

·       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.

·       Yue Liu, MSc. Bluebird perception and response to predation risk.

·       Angie Romano, BSc. Research technician, mobbing flock acoustics.

·       Brian Stokes, BSc. Research technician, acoustic spectral analysis.


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 4570c 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 (free global online course; NSF sponsored)

·       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 and Willa Chaves-Didier 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 (Argentina, Costa Rica).

·       UF Honors Program: Biodiversity Conservation Global Perspectives; Sustainable Society; Resilience in Living Systems

·       Sacramento State U: Natural Resource Conservation; Wildlife Ecology and Management; Ornithology; Conservation Biology


Sieving Lab Alumni and their current activities.                                          



·       Dr. Leila Kalantari, Post Doc (2018-19). 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 (2014-16, (2) Cambridge (2017-19).

·       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. Professor, Santa Fe College, Gainesville, Florida. 


M.Sc. Students

·       Harrison Jones, M.Sc. 2016. Predictors of reliance on socially derived anti-predator information. PhD in UF Biology.

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

·       Kaan Kerman, MSc. 2015. Behavioral syndromes in an invasive species, Monk parakeet. PhD, U degli Studi di Torino.

·       Amanda Abel, MSc. 2014. Florida scrub jay landscape ecology 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 exploratory behavior. PhD, UF Biology; Post doc, Academia Sinica.

·       Willandia Chaves-Didier, M.Sc. 2009. Wildlife and logging in Acre, Brasil. PhD in WEC; Post doc at Princeton U.

·       John J. DeLuca, M.Sc. 2008. Are farms ecological traps for Eastern Bluebirds?  Wildlife Biologist, Bureau Land Management.

·       Stacia A. Hetrick, M.Sc. 2006. Vocal signaling of risk by tufted titmice.  Plexus Worldwide.

·       Michael Milleson, M.Sc.  2005.  Arrested succession, south-temperate rainforest. Disease Biologist, USDA-APHIS, Gainesville, FL.

·       Lenny Santisteban, M.Sc.  2001.  Use of sensory cues by selected nest predators. PhD, NMSU; Res. Scientist, private sector.

·       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. Biologist, Wash. State Dep. Natural Resources.

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

·       Brian Williams. M.Sc. 1998.  Distribution and conservation of CA purple martins. Private consultant, Williams Wildland Consulting, CA.

·       Gerard J. McChesney.  M.Sc. 1997. Breeding biology of Brandt’s cormorant, San Nicolas Island, CA.  USFWS, Farallon Islands, California.


B.Sc. Students

·       Aaron Aguila, BSc. Salmonella incidence in bird feeders. Honors thesis student.

·       Zach Holmes, BSc. G.R.E.B.E. president and research volunteer. Intern Tall Timbers Research Station.

·       Izzy Garcia, BSc. G.R.E.B.E. officer and research volunteer. BioCorps Intern at Everglades National Park.

·       Jennifer Franklin, BSc. Research volunteer.

·       Odile Maurelli, BSc. Grad Cornell U, Research volunteer. Roving field technician.

·       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 effects on spectral tag detection efficiency for parid vocalizations.

·       Julie Perreau, BSc Honors 2014. Bluebird reproductive responses to different nest boxes and temperature.  PhD program UT Austin.

·       Amanda Powell, BSc Honors. 2013. Bluebird reproductive responses to perceived predation risk. ARCI biologist.

·       Michael Bainum, BSc. 2013. Feral cat camera trapping in urban environs. Employed @ Eventplicity.

·       Jessica Burnett, B.Sc. 2012. Actual and perceived landscapes of risk. MSc in WEC. PhD U Oklahoma.

·       Kelly Frye, B.Sc. Highest Honors. 2012. Social interactions and homing behavior. UF Vet School grad. Practicing veterinarian.

·       Chelsea Weitekamp, B.Sc. Highest Honors. 2011. Homing behavior in forest birds. NSF GF, PhD @ U T Austin, Post Doc US EPA.

·       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.