Elise Morton

Elise Morton

Assistant Professor of Biology, Department of Biological Sciences



  • Biological Diversity
  • Wildlife Population Ecology
  • Ornithology
  • Tropical Biology
  • Transitioning to University Life
  • Molecules, Cells, and Genes laboratory
  • Preparing for Professional Life


  • Avian ecology
  • Community ecology
  • Population dynamics
  • Wildlife Conservation
  • Behavior
  • Tropical biology


  • BS, West Virginia University
  • PhD, Indiana University

Academic Profile

The research in my lab is broadly focused on avian ecology, behavior, and conservation. Integrating field biology, quantitative models, and ecological theory we are interested in a diverse set of questions aimed at understanding how biological populations and communities respond to environmental variables across space and time.

Several current research projects examine the dynamics of bird communities in the tropical montane forests of East Africa. Our study area, the Albertine Rift, is one of the most biodiverse regions in Africa and supports nearly half of the bird species found on the continent. It’s also considered to be one of the most vulnerable regions on the planet due to human-caused environmental changes. Partnering with the Wildlife Conservation Society – Rwanda and the Institute for Tropical Forest Conservation in Uganda, we are trying to understand the long-term patterns of avian diversity in this region in order to identify how best to conserve the birds that live there.

Students in my lab are investigating additional questions as well, including the evolution of avian eye color, the effects of artificial light at night [ALAN] on roosting behavior in Chimney swifts [Chaetura pelagica], and partial migration in species such as the Red-headed Woodpecker [Melanerpes erythrocephalus]. A link to my lab’s website.

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