Benjamin Van Doren

Postdoctoral Fellow

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

Recent Publications

Lin, T., K. Winner, G. Bernstein, A. Mittal, A. M. Dokter, K. G. Horton, C. Nilsson, B. M. Van Doren, A. Farnsworth, F. A. La Sorte, S. Maji, and D. Sheldon (2019). MistNet: Measuring historical bird migration in the US using archived weather radar data and convolutional neural networks. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 10:1908–1922.
Horton, K. G., C. Nilsson, B. M. Van Doren, F. A. La Sorte, A. M. Dokter, and A. Farnsworth (2019). Bright lights in the big cities: Migratory birds' exposure to artificial light. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 17:209–214.
Horton, K. G., B. M. Van Doren, F. A. La Sorte, E. B. Cohen, H. L. Clipp, J. J. Buler, D. Fink, J. F. Kelly, and A. Farnsworth (2019). Holding steady: Little change in intensity or timing of bird migration over the Gulf of Mexico. Global Change Biology 25:1106–1118.
Van Doren, B. M., and K. G. Horton (2018). A continental system for forecasting bird migration. Science 361:1115–1118.
Horton, K. G., B. M. Van Doren, F. A. La Sorte, D. Fink, D. Sheldon, A. Farnsworth, and J. F. Kelly (2018). Navigating north: How body mass and winds shape avian flight behaviours across a North American migratory flyway. Ecology Letters 21:1055–1064.
Nilsson, C., K. G. Horton, A. M. Dokter, B. M. Van Doren, and A. Farnsworth (2018). Aeroecology of a solar eclipse. Biology Letters 14:20180485.
Van Doren, B. M., K. G. Horton, A. M. Dokter, H. Klinck, S. B. Elbin, and A. Farnsworth (2017). High-intensity urban light installation dramatically alters nocturnal bird migration. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Van Doren, B. M., L. Campagna, B. Helm, J. C. Illera, I. J. Lovette, and M. Liedvogel (2017). Correlated patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation across an avian family. Molecular Ecology 26:3982–3997.
Shamoun-Baranes, J., A. Farnsworth, B. Aelterman, J. A. Alves, K. Azijn, G. Bernstein, S. Branco, P. Desmet, A. M. Dokter, K. Horton, S. Kelling, et al. (2016). Innovative visualizations shed light on avian nocturnal migration. PLOS ONE 11:e0160106.
Dzielski, S. A., B. M. Van Doren, J. P. Hruska, and J. M. Hite (2016). Reproductive biology of the Sapayoa (Sapayoa aenigma), the "Old World suboscine" of the New World. The Auk:347–363.
Van Doren, B. M., K. G. Horton, P. M. Stepanian, D. S. Mizrahi, and A. Farnsworth (2016). Wind drift explains the reoriented morning flights of songbirds. Behavioral Ecology:arw021.
Horton, K. G., B. M. Van Doren, P. M. Stepanian, W. M. Hochachka, A. Farnsworth, and J. F. Kelly (2016). Nocturnally migrating songbirds drift when they can and compensate when they must. Scientific Reports 6:21249.
Horton, K. G., B. M. Van Doren, P. M. Stepanian, A. Farnsworth, and J. F. Kelly (2016). Seasonal differences in landbird migration strategies. The Auk 133:761–769.
Farnsworth, A., B. M. Van Doren, W. M. Hochachka, D. Sheldon, K. Winner, J. Irvine, J. Geevarghese, and S. Kelling (2016). A characterization of autumn nocturnal migration detected by weather surveillance radars in the northeastern USA. Ecological Applications 26:752–770.
La Sorte, F. A., W. M. Hochachka, A. Farnsworth, D. Sheldon, D. Fink, J. Geevarghese, K. Winner, B. M. Van Doren, and S. Kelling (2015). Migration timing and its determinants for nocturnal migratory birds during autumn migration. Journal of Animal Ecology 84:1202–1212.

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