Christopher Whelan     

Adjunct Faculty

 PhD, Dartmouth College

I am an evolutionary ecologist who works with birds and other taxa. My
research interests include ecology of human-dominated landscapes
(including the urban environment), ecosystem services, plant-animal
interactions, and interplay of digestive physiology and foraging
ecology. A common theme that unites my research interests is
consumer-resource theory. As consumers, birds play many functional roles
in the ecosystems they inhabit, including pest control and seed
dispersal. As resources themselves, bird communities are often strongly
impacted by predation, particularly nest predation. A central goal is
building fundamental understanding of the evolutionary ecology of birds
in ways that can promote sound land and resource management while
enhancing bird species conservation.
My work, over many years, has investigated a wide variety of questions,
including foraging ecology of New World warblers, seeking insights into
their resource exploitation systems, habitat selection, and community
organization; predation by insectivorous birds on the invasive gypsy
moth caterpillar (with Richard Holmes); phenological causes and
consequences of fruit consumption and seed dispersal by migratory
songbirds (with Mary Willson); avian pest control of forest leaf-chewing
insects (with Robert Marquis). More recently I teamed with Illinois
Natural History Survey colleagues to examine potential ecological
effects of rail transportation corridors and infrastructure in the upper
Midwest. I strive to cultivate collaborations that promote integration
of scientific approaches and disciplines.

Representative Publications (Complete list of publications on Google Scholar)

  • Flower, C.E., L.C. Long, K.S. Knight, J. Rebbeck, J.S. Brown, M.A. Gonzalez-Meler, and C.J.  Whelan. 2014. Native bark-foraging birds preferentially forage in infected ash (Fraxinus spp.) and prove effective predators of the invasive emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire). Forest Ecology and Management 313:300–306.

  • Oyugi, J.O., J.S. Brown, C.J. Whelan. 2012. Foraging behavior and coexistence of two sunbird species in a Kenyan woodland. Biotropica. 44:262–269.

  • Whelan, C.J., D.G. Wenny, and R.J. Marquis. 2010. Policy implications of ecosystem services provided by birds. Synesis 1:11-20.

  • Schmidt, K.A. and C.J. Whelan 2010. Nesting in an uncertain world: Information and sampling the future. Oikos 119: 245 253.

  • Whelan, C.J., D.G. Wenny, and R.J. Marquis. 2008. Ecosystem services provided by birds. Pages 25-60  in R.S. Ostfeld and W.H. Schlesinger, editors, The Year in Ecology and Conservation Biology 2008, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.    Behavior, Academic Press, Oxford.

  • Whelan, C.J. and J.S. Brown. 2005. Optimal foraging under gut constraints: reconciling two schools of thought. Oikos 110: 481-496.

  • Whelan, C.J. 2001. Foliage structure influences the foraging of insectivorous forest birds: an experimental analysis. Ecology 82:219-231.

  • Marquis, R.J., and C.J. Whelan. 1994. Insectivorous birds increase growth of white oak by consuming its herbivores. Ecology 75:2007-2014.


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Contact Information

Office: 3350 SES, MC 066
Phone: 312-355-0990
Fax: 312-412-2435