Conor Taff

Research Associate

Expertise

Behavioral Ecology • Evolution • Endocrinology • Physiological Ecology • Sexual Selection

I use field and lab approaches to study wild birds from an integrative perspective. My research falls at the intersection of physiology, evolution, ecology, and behavior. I use techniques from endocrinology and immunology to bioacoustics and behavioral observations. I generally work on questions relating to breeding biology, life history trade-offs, and sexual selection. My main projects at Cornell Lab are conducted using wild tree swallows as a study system and address how stress affects behavior and physiology, and how social signals and social interactions affect phenotype and fitness.

Education

Ph.D., University of California Davis
B.A., Skidmore College

Recent Publications

Injaian, A. S., J. J. Uehling, C. C. Taff, and M. N. Vitousek (2021). Effects of artificial light at night on avian provisioning, corticosterone, and reproductive success. Integrative and Comparative Biology 61:1147–1159.
Wheeler, S. S., C. C. Taff, W. K. Reisen, and A. K. Townsend (2021). Mosquito blood-feeding patterns and nesting behavior of American Crows, an amplifying host of West Nile virus. Parasites & Vectors 14:331.
Taff, C. C., C. Zimmer, D. Scheck, T. A. Ryan, J. L. Houtz, M. R. Smee, T. A. Hendry, and M. N. Vitousek (2021). Plumage manipulation alters associations between behaviour, physiology, the internal microbiome and fitness. Animal Behaviour 178:11–36.
Taff, C. C., and C. R. Freeman-Gallant (2021). Female ornamentation, incubation behavior, and reproductive success in a wild bird. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 75:92.
Odom, K. J., M. Araya‐Salas, J. L. Morano, R. A. Ligon, G. M. Leighton, C. C. Taff, A. H. Dalziell, A. C. Billings, R. R. Germain, M. Pardo, L. G. de Andrade, et al. (2021). Comparative bioacoustics: a roadmap for quantifying and comparing animal sounds across diverse taxa. Biological Reviews. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/brv.12695
Shipley, J. R., C. W. Twining, C. C. Taff, M. N. Vitousek, A. Flack, and D. W. Winkler (2020). Birds advancing lay dates with warming springs face greater risk of chick mortality. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:202009864.
Zimmer, C., C. C. Taff, D. R. Ardia, A. P. Rose, D. A. Aborn, L. S. Johnson, and M. N. Vitousek (2020). Environmental unpredictability shapes glucocorticoid regulation across populations of Tree Swallows. Scientific Reports 10:13682.
Winkler, D. W., K. K. Hallinger, T. M. Pegan, C. C. Taff, M. A. Verhoeven, D. Chang van Oordt, M. Stager, J. J. Uehling, M. N. Vitousek, M. J. Andersen, D. R. Ardia, et al. (2020). Full lifetime perspectives on the costs and benefits of lay‐date variation in tree swallows. Ecology 101.
Uehling, J. J., C. C. Taff, D. W. Winkler, and M. N. Vitousek (2020). Developmental temperature predicts the adult response to stressors in a free‐living passerine. Journal of Animal Ecology 89:842–854.
Vitousek, M. N., C. C. Taff, T. A. Ryan, and C. Zimmer (2019). Stress resilience and the dynamic regulation of glucocorticoids. Integrative and Comparative Biology 59:251–263.
Taff, C. C., C. Zimmer, and M. N. Vitousek (2019). Achromatic plumage brightness predicts stress resilience and social interactions in Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). Behavioral Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1093/beheco/arz010
Townsend, A. K., C. C. Taff, M. L. Jones, K. H. Getman, S. S. Wheeler, M. G. Hinton, and R. M. Logsdon (2019). Apparent inbreeding preference despite inbreeding depression in the American Crow. Molecular Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/mec.14866
Zimmer, C., C. C. Taff, D. R. Ardia, T. A. Ryan, D. W. Winkler, and M. N. Vitousek (2019). On again, off again: Acute stress response and negative feedback together predict resilience to experimental challenges. Functional Ecology. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2435.13281
Taff, C. C., L. Campagna, and M. N. Vitousek (2019). Genome‐wide variation in DNA methylation is associated with stress resilience and plumage brightness in a wild bird. Molecular Ecology 28:3722–3737.
Injaian, A. S., P. L. Gonzalez-Gomez, C. C. Taff, A. K. Bird, A. D. Ziur, G. L. Patricelli, M. F. Haussmann, and J. C. Wingfield (2019). Traffic noise exposure alters nestling physiology and telomere attrition through direct, but not maternal, effects in a free-living bird. General and Comparative Endocrinology 276:14–21.
Townsend, A. K., C. C. Taff, M. Jones, K. H. Getman, S. S. Wheeler, M. Hinton, and R. Logsdon (2019). [In press] Inbreeding tolerance despite inbreeding depression in the American Crow. Molecular Ecology.
Injaian, A. S., C. C. Taff, G. P. Patricelli, M. N. Vitousek, M. Gin, and K. Pearson (2019). [In press] Experimental traffic noise exposure alters stress physiology and reduces reproductive success in a free-living bird. Hormones & Behavior.
Del Giudice, M., C. L. Buck, L. Chaby, B. M. Gormally, C. C. Taff, C. J. Thawley, M. N. Vitousek, and H. Wada (2019). [In press] What is stress? A systems perspective. Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Townsend, A. K., C. C. Taff, S. Wheeler, A. Weis, M. Hinton, M. Jones, R. Logsdon, W. Reisen, D. Freund, R. Sehgal, M. Saberi, et al. (2019). [In press] Low heterozygosity is associated with vector-borne disease in crows. Ecosphere.
Lawton, S. J., A. M. Weis, B. A. Byrne, H. Fritz, C. C. Taff, A. K. Townsend, B. C. Weimer, A. Mete, S. Wheeler, and W. M. Boyce (2019). [In press] Comparative analysis of Campylobacter isolates from wild birds and chickens using MALDI-TOF MS, biochemical testing, and DNA sequencing. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.
Del Giudice, M., C. L. Buck, L. E. Chaby, B. M. Gormally, C. C. Taff, C. J. Thawley, M. N. Vitousek, and H. Wada (2018). What is stress? A systems perspective. Integrative and Comparative Biology. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icy114
Miles, M. C., M. N. Vitousek, J. F. Husak, M. A. Johnson, L. B. Martin, C. C. Taff, C. Zimmer, M. B. Lovern, and M. J. Fuxjager (2018). Standing variation and the capacity for change: Are endocrine phenotypes more variable than other traits? Integrative and Comparative Biology:1–12.
Vitousek, M. N., C. C. Taff, D. R. Ardia, J. M. Stedman, C. Zimmer, T. C. Salzman, and D. W. Winkler (2018). The lingering impact of stress: brief acute glucocorticoid exposure has sustained, dose-dependent effects on reproduction. Proc. R. Soc. B 285.
Lawton, S. J., A. M. Weis, B. A. Byrne, H. Fritz, C. C. Taff, A. K. Townsend, B. C. Weimer, A. Mete, S. Wheeler, and W. M. Boyce (2018). Comparative analysis of Campylobacter isolates from wild birds and chickens using maldi-tof ms, biochemical testing, and DNA sequencing. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation 30:354–361.
Freeman-Gallant, C. R., and C. C. Taff (2018). Age and infection history are revealed by different ornaments in a warbler. Oecologia 188:1025–1036.
Injaian, A. S., C. C. Taff, K. L. Pearson, M. M. Y. Gin, G. L. Patricelli, and M. N. Vitousek (2018). Effects of experimental chronic traffic noise exposure on adult and nestling corticosterone levels, and nestling body condition in a free-living bird. Hormones and Behavior 106:19–27.
Townsend, A. K., C. C. Taff, S. S. Wheeler, A. M. Weis, M. G. Hinton, M. L. Jones, R. M. Logsdon, W. K. Reisen, D. Freund, R. N. M. Sehgal, M. Saberi, et al. (2018). Low heterozygosity is associated with vector-borne disease in crows. Ecosphere 9:e02407.
Taff, C. C., L. A. Schoenle, and M. N. Vitousek (2018). The repeatability of glucocorticoids: A review and meta-analysis. General and Comparative Endocrinology 260:136–145.
Injaian, A. S., C. C. Taff, and G. L. Patricelli (2018). Experimental anthropogenic noise impacts avian parental behaviour, nestling growth, and nestling oxidative stress. Animal Behaviour 136:31–39.
Whittingham, L. A., P. O. Dunn, C. R. Freeman-Gallant, C. C. Taff, and J. A. Johnson (2018). Major histocompatibility complex variation and blood parasites in resident and migratory populations of the Common Yellowthroat. Journal of Evolutionary Biology. https://doi.org/10.1111/jeb.13349
Taff, C. C., C. Zimmer, and M. N. Vitousek (2018). Efficacy of negative feedback in the HPA axis predicts recovery from acute challenges. Biology Letters 14.
Taff, C. C., and A. K. Townsend (2017). Campylobacter jejuni infection associated with relatively poor condition and low survival in a wild bird. Journal of Avian Biology 48:1071–1076.
Taff, C. C., and C. R. Freeman-Gallant (2017). Sexual signals reflect telomere dynamics in a wild bird. Ecology and Evolution 7:3436–3442.
Weis, A. M., B. C. Huang, D. B. Storey, N. Kong, P. Chen, N. Arabyan, B. Gilpin, C. Mason, A. K. Townsend, W. A. Smith, B. A. Byrne, et al. (2017). Large-scale release of Campylobacter draft genomes: Resources for food safety and public health from the 100K Pathogen Genome Project. Genome Announcements 5:e00925-16.
Taff, C. C., A. M. Weis, S. Wheeler, M. G. Hinton, B. C. Weimer, C. M. Barker, M. Jones, R. Logsdon, W. A. Smith, W. M. Boyce, and A. K. Townsend (2016). Influence of host ecology and behavior on Campylobacter jejuni prevalence and environmental contamination risk in a synanthropic wild bird. Applied and Environmental Microbiology:AEM.01456-16.
Taff, C. C., and C. R. Freeman-Gallant (2016). Experimental tests of the function and flexibility of song consistency in a wild bird. Ethology 122:319–328.
Taff, C. C., and M. N. Vitousek (2016). Endocrine flexibility: optimizing phenotypes in a dynamic world? Trends in Ecology & Evolution 31:476–488.
Patricelli, G. L., A. H. Krakauer, and C. C. Taff (2016). Variable signals in a complex world: shifting views of within-individual variability in sexual display traits. In Advances in the Study of Behavior (J. C. M. Marc Naguib Leigh W. Simmons, Louise Barrett, Sue Healy and Marlene Zuk, Editor). Academic Press, pp. 319–386.
Conor Taff
Center Biodiversity Studies & Higher Education
Projects Conservation Science
Email cct63@cornell.edu
Website Website

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