Benjamin Van Doren
I study avian migration, focusing on understanding the drivers of change and flexibility in migratory behavior. My work straddles ecology, evolution, behavior and conservation, and I believe in taking diverse perspectives—from individuals to flyways, tracking to remote sensing, acoustics to genomics.
My recent work has focused on three major themes: (1) birds’ innate migratory programs, (2) the impact of human activity on migration, and (3) continent-scale perspectives on migration systems. Since 2012, I have worked with the BirdCast project to study and predict large-scale migratory movements, including research on the effects of light pollution on migrating birds and a tool to forecast nocturnal migratory movements across the United States. During my PhD, I used data from lab studies to understand birds’ inherited migratory programs and their responsiveness to environmental change. I also investigated how humans are influencing the migrations and winter ecology of blackcaps (Sylvia atricapilla) in the United Kingdom.
I am now pursuing projects that leverage complementary data sources to study the dynamics of migration systems. Interactions among individuals, species, and environments drive these dynamics, yet we have little knowledge of individual behavior during active migration. I am working to unify tracking, citizen science, remote sensing, and genomic data to infer detailed behavior across large spatial scales. In addition, I hope to develop and deploy sensors to reveal individual interactions and responses to light pollution during active migratory flights.
In today’s era of “big data” ecology, I am eager to advance understanding and appreciation of one of the world’s most captivating natural phenomena.
B.S., Cornell University
Ph.D., University of Oxford