About OEB

OEB provides interdepartmental training for MS and PhD students in ecology, animal behavior, organismal biology and evolutionary biology. Graduate students, post-docs, and faculty study biological processes ranging from the molecular to the ecosystem level, often bridging the gap between basic and applied research. Our faculty and students conduct research in four broad areas:

Animal Behavior: Behavioral ecology, communication, learning
Ecology: Community ecology, population ecology, landscape ecology, conservation biology
Evolutionary Biology: Evolution, phylogenetics, population genetics, molecular evolution
Organismal Biology: Physiology, morphology, paleontology

News & Announcements

Three OEB Students Receive Lotta M. Crabtree Fellowships

A great way to welcome in 2020 is to celebrate our three latest Lotta Crabtree fellows: Jake Barnett, Seanne Clemente, and Carolina Munoz-Agudelo. The Lotta M. Crabtree Fellowship in Production Agriculture supports UMass students pursuing research that aims to improve agriculture.

Congratulations, Jake, Caro, and Seanne!

3 OEB Students  Awarded Research Grants

Three OEB students were awarded grants through the UMass Graduate School research grants program. Chaise Gilbert has received a Dissertation Research Grant. Kadambari Devarajan and Josh Moyer have received Fieldwork Grants. Congratulations to Chaise, Kadambari, and Josh!

National-scale study by UMass ecologists Emily Fusco and Bethany Bradley finds invasive grasses increase wildfire risk

According to a national-scale study by ecologists Emily Fusco (OEB graduate and Environmental Conservation postdoc), Bethany Bradley (Associate Professor, Environmental Conservation) and colleagues at the University of Colorado-Boulder, invasive grasses can double the number of fires. One species, invasive cheatgrass, has a long, well-earned reputation as a firestarter, making wildfires worse and more common. It is now clear that this effect is much more pervasive than a single species, they report. The new analysis finds at least seven other non-native grasses can increase wildfire risk around the country, some doubling or even tripling the likelihood of fires in grass-invaded areas. Read more here. These findings have also received coverage in the New York Times and Boston Globe.

Amazon’s White Bellbirds Set New Record for Loudest Bird Call


Biologist Jeff Podos at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with Mario Cohn-Haft at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, Brazil, report that they have recorded the loudest bird calls ever documented, made by dove-sized male white bellbirds as part of their mating rituals in the mountains of the northern Amazon. Details are in the latest Current Biology. Read more

Biology and Art: The UMCA launches a collaboration with the Natural History Collections in October


One of the exciting happenings on the UMass Amherst campus this fall is a seed of something huge to come: an innovative collaboration between the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA) and the Natural History Collections. The pilot project for this partnership, ongoing through 2020/21, is Fielding, a show by guest artist Emily Tareila ’19G (MFA), mounted in pop-up fashion in Morrill Science Center. In a time of global environmental shifts, the methodical catalog of species that natural history collections furnish is a particularly valuable resource. “The collections are the foundation of a lot of biological research, documenting and recording life on earth, for scientists to study in terms of what has happened, and what’s coming,” says Assistant Professor of Biology, Madelaine Bartlett. “We have a legacy of herbarium records that can now be used to track the impact of climate change.” Read More