For the Birds: Student Research Project Studies Parasites’ Effects on Swallow Nestlings
July 1, 2015
By Elaine Jeon ’17
Elizabeth Black ’16 and Victoria Luizzi ’17, collecting data
Rain or shine, four dedicated biologists Elizabeth Black ’16, Joely DeSimone ’15, Victoria Luizzi ’17 and Natalie Sun ’18 have been spending seven days a week in the College’s Wildlife Sanctuary this summer collecting data on the effects blood-sucking fly larvae have on the growth and health of tree swallow nestlings.
Ethan Clotfelter, associate professor of biology and neuroscience and chair of the Department of Biology, answers questions about his course Biology 281: “Animal Behavior.” He taught the course last semester and will offer it again in Fall 2013.
The four professors will use their grants to work with students to continue researching brain circuitry, fish evolution, plant disease and environmental conservation, respectively. Below are brief descriptions of the grants and the research that will be supported.
Warmer Nests Mean Healthier Mothers and Chicks, Finds Amherst College Research Team
AMHERST, Mass. – Heating the nests of tree swallows enables them to spend more time incubating their eggs and maintain higher egg temperatures as a result, according to Amherst College biology professor Ethan Clotfelter and his team of collaborators, who conducted a series of experiments investigating the energetics of reproduction in tree swallows in 2006 and 2007. Through the studies, Clotfelter and his research group also discovered that swallows whose nests had been experimentally warmed had higher body mass and fed their babies at higher rates, leading to healthier nestlings overall.