A Nelson’s sparrow and a saltmarsh sparrow at Barn Island, CT
A Nelson’s sparrow and a saltmarsh sparrow at Barn Island, CT (photo by Chris Elphick, feel free to use with attribution).

Depending on my mood, I consider myself a conservation biologist, an applied ecologist, or an ornithologist, with research interests that span behavioral, population, community and landscape ecology. Most of my research has focused on aquatic species that occur in wetland or agricultural habitats, but I’ve also worked in temperate and tropical forests, the boreal zone, and (long ago) the open ocean. Despite this breadth (or, if you like, lack of focus) the overriding goal that unites much of our group's work is understanding how ecologists can best guide management decisions so as to reconcile the conservation of biological diversity with other human activities.

Our current research interests involve studies of birds in tidal marshes, birds in agricultural settings, species interactions in fragmented forests, the causes and measurement of past and projected avian extinctions, global insect declines, and ways to better synthesize the conservation literature.


Several artists have developed work related to our research. The Only Show in Town an exhibition by artists Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir and Mark Wilson ran at the David Winton Bell Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island, from 6 April - 7 July, 2019. Also, check out poetry by David Crews and Samuel Illingworth.

Contact information

Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut
75 N. Eagleville Road, Unit 3043
Storrs, CT 06269-3043, USA

Email: chris.elphick@uconn.edu
Phone: +01 (860)486-4547

Directions to my office (TLS 372/4): If you are coming from off campus, you can get directions to UConn. Park in the North Garage on North Eagleville Rd. (to the west of Swan Lake, see the map at this site). From the garage, walk down (east on) N. Eagleville Rd. Go into TLS (which is just across from the cemetery) and up two flights to the third floor.

Lab positions

General information for prospective graduate students

Postdocs: We anticipate advertising a postdoctoral position working with tidal marsh (SHARP) data some time this winter.  This position will be analysis-focused and we will be searching for someone with strong quantitative skills.

Graduate students: I anticipate a grant-funded opening for a new PhD student, starting in fall 2022, focused on the creation of species distribution models for saltmarsh nesting birds. I will be looking for someone with prior modelling experience.

Field technicians: Next summer (2022) we anticipate hiring for several positions (a) surveying tidal marsh birds, (b) banding coastal sparrows and nest searching, and (c) collecting RTK elevation data at coastal marsh restoration sites.  Please check back mid-winter for more information.

All job positions