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. the decline of the saltmarsh sparrows is also addressed in poetry by David Crews and Samuel Illingworth.

Most recently, Kristin Hauge  of the University of Virginia's Department of Music composed On the Strangest Sea (click to listen), which interprets the results in Figure 6 of Field et al. (2017) - a graph that describes the projected future population trajectory for saltmarsh sparrows.

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

Directions to my office (Gant W418): 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). Gant is the building immediately east of the parking garage on N. Eagleville Rd. I'm on the 4th floor in the West Wing, the one closest to the garage.

Lab positions

General information for prospective graduate students

Postdocs: We do not have any open postdoctoral positions at present, but I am open to discussions with anyone who has or is seeking independent research funding.

Graduate students: I do not anticipate accepting new students in fall 2024, but am open to discussions with strong candidates who have clear research ideas and who are seeking independent research funding (e.g., NSF GRFP).

Field technicians: We are not hiring for technician positions, but check back mid-winter to learn about opportunities for the 2024 field season.

All job positions