Sharon Gill

Photo of Sharon Gill
Sharon Gill
Professor of Biological Sciences
(269) 387-5613
3157 Wood Hall, Mail Stop 5410
Mailing address: 
Department of Biological Sciences
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5410 USA
Research interests: 
  • Behavioral ecology
  • Ornithology
  • Sound ecology

Dr. Sharon Gill is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Western Michigan University.

The primary research focus of the Gill lab is to understand the behavioral responses of animals to environmental change. The lab is exploring whether animals alter communication strategies in response to anthropogenic noise, considering the degree to which individuals can flexibly adjust their calls and songs as well as other behaviors depending on noise. All of the data collection occurs in the field, with most work on songbirds (chipping sparrows, field sparrows and house wrens), but also investigating these questions in two frogs, grey tree frogs and spring peepers. The work is done at various conservation and recreation lands across southwest Michigan, including preserves of the Southwest Michigan Land Conservancy, and state, county, township and city parks. Once back from the field, hundreds of hours are spent analyzing sound recordings, considering both patterns of noise in the recordings as well as the animal sounds themselves. Research is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Maarten Vonhof and WMU noise engineer Dr. Koorosh Naghshineh and his students, and is funded by the National Science Foundation and Western Michigan University.

In collaboration with Dr. Kathryn Docherty and Dr. Maarten Vonhof, the effect of urbanization on microbes, blood parasites and health of songbirds is also being examined. In cooperation with Dr. Kathleen Baker ways to collect spatial-balanced random samples across an urbanization gradient have been developed. Mistnets are used to capture birds, collect samples from them and take various body measurements that help assess body condition and health.

Students in Gill's laboratory:

  • Jesús Barajas, Undergraduate Student
  • Eric Branch, Research Assistant
  • Parks Marion, MS Student
  • Joanna Sblendorio, PhD student
  • Victoria Underhill, PhD student
  • Caroline Wolf, BS, Research assistant


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