Sheila Conant

Professor Emerita, Biology

Life History, Ecology and Conservation Biology of Endemic Hawaiian Birds, Island Biology







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Research Interests

Life history, ecology and conservation of Hawaiian birds have been the focus of my research for the last 45 years. Past research has included studies of altitudinal distribution of birds in relation to environmental factors, ornithological surveys of large natural areas, avian census techniques, and a variety of natural history subjects such as plant and invertebrate distributions. More recently my work has included studies of geographic variation in morphology, genetics and behavior of three species of endangered passerines in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and how birds were used in Hawaiian material culture. My graduate students undertake research on these topics, as well as plant-pollinator interactions, conservation biology of rare plants and invertebrates, impacts of alien species on native Hawaiian biota and seabird behavior and conservation.

Hawai'i has lost more species than any other geographic area on Earth. This extinction crisis continues today, as biologists and managers work to prevent the loss of hundreds of endangered species, including more than 30 birds, 300 plants and at least 150 species of invertebrates. My research and that of my students has sought, among other things, to document the ecologies of some of these threatened species and, through basic ecological research, to provide a sound biological basis for effecting their recovery. We are also interested in environmental conflict resolution and how interactions between science, policy and management affect natural resource conservation.

Selected Publications

Lepczyk, C.A., N. Dauphine, D.M. Bird, S. Conant, R.J. Cooper, D.D. Duffy, P.J. Hatley, P.P. Marra, E. Stone, S.A. Temple. 2010. What conservation biologists can do to counter trap-neuter-return: Response to Longcore el al. Cons. Biol. 24:627-629.

Yeung, N. W., D.B. Carlon, and S. Conant. 2009. Testing subspecies hypothesis with molecular markers and morphometrics in the Pacific white tern complex. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 98, 586-595.

Rauzon, M, and S. Conant 2009. Seabirds. In: Gillespie, R. and D. Clague (eds.) Encyclopedia of Islands. Univ. of Calif. Press.