Profile: Douglas W. Morrison

Associate Professor

Faculty
Department of Biological Sciences

 

My studies of communally roosting bats and birds have examined the role of predation pressure and the availability of critical resources (feeding and roosting sites) on the evolution of social foraging and mating systems. I use radio-tracking to monitor the responses of individuals to natural and experimental changes in the availability of feeding and roosting sites. For example: (a) Comparative studies of tropical fruit bats in the rain forests of Central America and West Africa (1972-1980) explained foraging patterns and (harem) mating systems in terms of the energetic costs involved in search, feeding, and defense. (b) Studies of communal roosting by starlings, grackles, and robins in rural/suburban New Jersey (1981 - 88) revealed that it is the diurnal feeding area rather than the nocturnal roost that is the central base of operation for these birds. This contradicts the long-standing "information center hypothesis" and lead to the formulation and testing of an alternative ("patch sitting") hypothesis.

Current research projects

My research interests include developing ways to expand and humanize computer-aided instruction in undergraduate education. General Biology 101-102, my course of 600 mixed majors, has been a test site for several BioQUEST computer simulations. I am currently collaborating with the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) program to develop CD-ROM and video-based catalysts for small group discussions in ecology.

  • Education

    Ph.D. in Animal Behavior/Ecology, Cornell University, 1975.