Alice Boyle, Professor


Contact information

308 Ackert Hall

Lab website:


Ph.D. 2006, University of Arizona. Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.

Area(s) of Specialization

Behavioral, evolutionary, & physiological ecology; basic and applied ornithology; migration, dispersal, and life history

Research Focus

My research investigates the evolutionary, behavioral, and physiological ecology of mobile animals, especially focusing on avian movements. Much of my research centers on understanding the life-history trade-offs underlying alternative migratory and dispersal strategies, organismal responses to selective pressures imposed by elevational gradients, and the role of climatic variability in shaping life history and movement. My work is centered at the population level, but I explore the causes and implications of behavior at the community level, drawing heavily from the physiological ecology toolbox to understand underlying mechanisms for ecological patterns. Much of my research has focused on understanding the costs and benefits of avian migratory movements in both tropical and temperate biomes. Recent work points to a strong role for climate variation, a finding with major implications in the face of changing climatic regimes. I combine a field-based research program with an array of laboratory and analytical methods to address questions of fundamental importance to both basic and applied branches of wildlife ecology.

Selected Publications

Herse, M.R., M.E. Estey, P.J. Moore, B.K. Sandercock and W.A. Boyle. in press. Landscape context determines settlement patterns of an enigmatic grassland songbird. Landscape Ecology

Williams, E.J. and W.A.Boyle. in press. Patterns and correlates of within-season breeding dispersal: a common strategy in a declining grassland songbird. The Auk: Ornithological Advances, 135. doi: 10.1642/AUK-17-69.1

Boyle, W.A., 2017. Altitudinal bird migration in North America. The Auk: Ornithological Advances, 134, 443-465. doi:10.1642/AUK-16-228.1

Boyle, W.A. and K. Martin, 2016. The conservation value of high elevation habitats to North American migrant birds. Biological Conservation, 192, 461-478. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2015.10.008

Boyle, W.A., B.K. Sandercock, and K. Martin. 2016. Patterns and drivers of intraspecfic variation in avian life-histories along elevational gradients: a meta-analysis. Biological Reviews, 91:469-482; doi: 10.1111/brv.12180

Boyle, W.A. and S.J. Sigel. 2015. Ongoing changes in the avifauna of La Selva Biological Station, Costa Rica: twenty-three years of Christmas Bird Counts. Biological Conservation, 188, 11-21.

Boyle, W.A., D.W. Winkler, and C.G. Guglielmo. 2012. Rapid loss of fat but not lean mass prior to chick provisioning supports the flight efficiency hypothesis in Tree Swallows. Functional Ecology 26, 895-903. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2435.2012.01997.x.

Boyle, W.A., C.G. Guglielmo, K.A. Hobson, and D.R. Norris. 2011. Lekking birds in a tropical forest forego sex for migration. Biology Letters, 7, 661-663. Supplementary material

Boyle, W.A., C.J. Conway, J.L. Bronstein. 2011. Why do some, but not all, birds migrate? A comparative study of diet breadth and fruit preference. Evolutionary Ecology, 25, 219-236. doi: 10.1007/s10682-010-9403-4.

Boyle, W.A., D.R. Norris, and C.G. Guglielmo. 2010. Storms drive altitudinal migration in a tropical bird. Proceedings of the Royal Society-B, 277, 2511-2519.

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