The collection of birds at UMass, originally started in the early 1950's by Lawrence Bartlett, presently features about 4500 catalogued specimens. Over two-thirds of catalogued specimens are from the US, and the vast majority of these from the North East. Approximately half of all of our catalogued specimens were collected locally in Massachusetts.
Highlights from our international collections include specimens collected from the Panama Canal zone (Gordon Field collections) and the Phillipines (E.E. Macatiguib collections). The majority of our specimens are skins with or without skeletal material. We also have an additional 1000 skeletal or skull-only specimens. Our collection also includes about 325 taxidermic mounts, about ~40 nests with eggs, and a diversity of eggs.
Curator: Dr. Jeff Podos
I have been affiliated with the University since 2000, and am currently a Professor of Biology. I received a bachelors degree from Franklin and Marshall College in 1989, and a doctoral degree from the Department of Zoology at Duke University in 1996. At Duke I studied with Dr. Stephen Nowicki, with whom I continue to collaborate. I conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Arizona from 1998-2000.
My students, collaborators, and I study the behavior and evolution of birds, with particular emphasis on the evolution, function, and development of vocal signals. One line of ongoing research examines the relationship between morphological adaptation and vocal evolution in Darwin's finches, and possible consequences of this relationship on finch evolutionary dynamics. Our finch research program integrates perspectives from behavioral ecology, evolutionary ecology, and functional morphology. A second line of research examines the interaction of learning predispositions and morphological constraints on the development of vocal signals in swamp sparrows. This research is conducted both in the laboratory and at a field site at the nearby Quabbin reservoir.