Department of Zoology and Physiology

Program in Ecology

Evolutionary Biology

Biodiversity Institute

Contact information:

Office: Berry Center 149
Lab: Biological Sciences 439

Mailing Address:
Department of Zoology & Physiology, 3166
University of Wyoming
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie, WY 82071

Office Ph: (307) 399-4785
Fax: (307) 766-5625


Craig W. Benkman

Curriculum vitae


Current Lab Members

Former Graduate Students

Former Post-docs


Current Lab Members

Jonathan Argov, MS student

I am interested in avian ecology and conservation. My research is attempting to determine if there are consistent landscape level patterns of resource depletion for Cassia Crossbills correlated with climatic variables, and whether this can guide conservation.


Chad Brock, Post-doc

My research focuses on the mechanisms that are responsible for producing and maintaining species diversity, and phenotypic and genomic variation at multiple spatial and temporal scales. At the macroevolutionary scale, I study the pattern and process of evolutionary change over geological timeframes, the statistical properties of phylogenetic diversification methods and the role of hybridization in promoting speciation and adaptive evolution. At the population level, I study microgeographic variation in male signaling traits and the role of phenotypic plasticity, phenotype-dependent habitat choice, natural selection and gene flow in mediating adaptive trait-environment correlations. I also develop visual models to address questions in sensory ecology and assess how the evolution of the visual system in both con- and heterospecifics mediates sexual selection and trait diversity at multiple spatial scales. For my current work in Loxia crossbills, I am investigating the genomic landscape of divergence across crossbill ecotypes and species, and developing and applying demographic modeling methods to infer the historical context of ecotype divergence.


Cody Porter, PhD student

I am interested in speciation, especially the evolution of reproductive isolation in incipient species, where the processes directly giving rise to divergence are best studied. At present, I am developing a research project to evaluate the role that variation in resource availability plays in driving reproductive isolation between Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra complex) call types. I am a passionate proponent of the importance of natural history in evolutionary biology. Indeed, my current fascination (obsession might be more appropriate) with crossbills stems from their unique and well-characterized natural history.



Former Graduate Students

Beth Bardwell, MS, 2000

Thesis: "Feeding performance of Western Scrub Jays on pinyon pine cones and acorns: is geographic variation in bill structure adaptive?"

Current position: Director of Freshwater Conservation, Audubon New Mexico


Nathan Behl, MS, 2017

Thesis: "The abundance and habitat associations of a range-restricted specialist, the Cassia Crossbill (Loxia sinesciuris)"


Chris Borg, MS, 2001

Thesis: "Impacts of timber harvest on the endemic Sacramento Mountain salamander, Aneides hardii (Caudata: Plethodontidae), in the southern Rocky Mountains of New Mexico, USA"

Current position: Land Protection Specialist, Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests


Kim Coffey, MS, 1997

Thesis: "The adaptive significance of spines on pine cones"


Amanda Favis, MS, 2002

Thesis: "Patterns of seed predation by crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) and red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) and the geographic selection mosaic"

Current position: Director, Ruidoso Animal Clinic, New Mexico


Trevor Fetz, PhD, 2010

Thesis: "The ecology and conservation of a small endemic population of Red Crossbill"

Current position: Lead Avian Biologist, Hawks Aloft, Inc., Albuquerque, New Mexico


Julie Hart, MS, 2013

Thesis: "Are South Hills crossbills declining with increasing temperatures?"


William Holimon, MS, 1996

Thesis: "Spatio-temporal patterns of Red Crossbills and conifer cones in southeast Alaska"

Current position: Director, Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission


Patrick Keenan, MS, 2007

Thesis: "Call learning and call variation in Red Crossbills"

Current position: Outreach Director, Biodiversity Research Institute, Gorham, Maine


Thomas Parchman, MS, 2002; PhD, 2007

Thesis: "Diversifying coevolution between crossbills and black spruce on Newfoundland"

Dissertation: "Patterns of genetic variation and coevolution in the diversification of crossbills"

Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Nevada at Reno


Anna Parker, MS, 2019

Thesis: "Selection, serotiny, and squirrels: effects of predation on lodgepole pine cone traits"

Current position: Graduate student, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Joy Sales, MS, 2004

Thesis: "Does selection by an ectoparasite drive a population of Red Crossbills from their adaptive peak?"


Leonard Santisteban, PhD, 2010

Dissertation: "Temporal variation in population dynamics, natural selection, and reproductive isolation in the South Hills crossbill (Fringillidae: Loxia)"


Adam Siepielski, MS, 2002; PhD, 2007

Thesis: A role for island area in the geographic mosaic of coevolution for Red Crossbills and lodgepole pine"

Dissertation: "The ecology and evolution of seed dispersal mutualisms between nutcrackers and pine"

Current position: Assistant Professor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Julie Smith, MS, 1997; PhD, 2005

Thesis: "The adaptive use of public information by foraging Red Crossbills"

Dissertation: "The role of coevolution in promoting ecological speciation in Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra complex)"

Current position: Associate Professor, Pacific Lutheran University


Lisa Snowberg, MS, 2006

Thesis: "Mate choice preferences of female red crossbills (Loxia curvirostra complex): the importance of vocalizations and foraging rates"

Current position: PhD student, University of Texas, Austin

John Stanek, MS, 2009

Thesis: "Breeding habitat selection by rosy-finches in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado"

Current position: Wildlife Biologist, Southern Sierra Research Station


Matt Talluto, PhD, 2013

Dissertation: "The evolution of landscape structure: Eco-evolutionary dynamics drive spatial variation in serotiny in lodgepole pine"

Current position: Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Austria


Lauren Throop, MS, 2011

Thesis: "Evidence for Allee effects? How variation in local limber pine (Pinus flexilis) density influences seed dispersal by the Clark's Nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana)"

Current position: Wildlife Biologist/Project Manager, Hayden-Wing Associates



Former Postdocs

Anna Chalfoun

2007-2008. Postdoctoral Fellow funded by the National Park Service

Current position: Assistant Professor/Assistant Unit Leader, USGS Wyoming Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, University of Wyoming


Eduardo T. Mezquida

2003-2005. Postdoctoral Fellow funded by Spanish Ministry of Education and Science

Current position: Professor Ayudante Doctor, Autonomous University of Madrid, Spain


Pim Edelaar

2002-2003. NWO Talent Fellow from the Netherlands

Current position: Assistant Professor, University Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain