Benkman Lab at the University of Wyoming
I'm at heart a naturalist and thus my interests are fairly broad within behavior, ecology and evolution. What unites them is my belief that many interesting and important questions can only be answered with an understanding of resource availability. Consequently, much of my research has focused on linking resource availability to various aspects of behavior, ecology, evolution and conservation. We continue to study crossbills (Loxia) (and conifers and other conifer-seed-eating animals such as tree squirrels and nutcrackers) because we can quantify resource availability, measure the form of phenotypic selection in the wild and we can bring food resources into the laboratory where we can ask meaningful questions with captive crossbills. There are also many fascinating questions posed by crossbills and I'm not the first to think so. The great naturalist and myrmecologist from Cornell University, Dr. William L. Brown, Jr. (1922-1997), wrote in The Quarterly Review of Biology in 1957 "Were I an ornithologist, I think that the finches of the genus Loxia would take up most of my research time. No group of birds seems to offer more tantalizing problems in that area of biology where systematics, ecology, zoogeography, population dynamics, and ethology overlap."
People in the Benkman lab
Research in the Benkman lab