Frank R. Moore

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Teaching Interests

HON 301 Prospectus Writing

BSC 103 Biological Sciences

BSC 442/542 Behavioral Ecology


Research Interests


My graduate students and I study the behavior and ecology of migration. Migration is a fundamental characteristic of the life history of many organisms and is surely one of the most fascinating of all behavior. Nearly two-thirds of all North American landbirds undertake migrations between temperate breeding areas and tropical wintering quarters. Although many landbird migrants are capable of making spectacular, non-stop flights over ecological barriers, few actually engage in nonstop flights between points of origin and destination, rather they stopover periodically between migratory flights. Indeed, the cumulative amount of time spent at stopover sites far exceeds time spent in flight and determines the total duration of migration. When a migratory bird stops en route, she almost invariably finds herself in unfamiliar surroundings at a time when energy demands are high, often faced with the need to acquire food in a short period of time, while balancing often conflicting demands between predator avoidance and food acquisition, competition with other migrants and resident birds for limited resources, unfavorable weather, exposure to parasites and pathogens, not to mention the need to make accurate orientation decisions upon departure. How well she meets these challenges will determine the success of her migration, while a successful migration is measured in terms of survival and reproductive performance. Long term, programmatic research in my lab has been organized around the challenges migrants face when they stop over during migration, how migrants meet those challenges, and the consequences of their response to en route challenges. 

Our research has recently taken on a sense of urgency because populations of many migratory songbirds are on the decline. These declines are linked to deforestation on wintering grounds in Central and South America and fragmentation of forested breeding habitats. Our work is calling attention to a third factor -- the availability of suitable habitat during migration, where energy stores critical to a successful migration can be safely deposited. The biology of migrants during migration must figure in any analysis of population change and in the formulation of sound conservation policy.

Current Graduate Students | Migratory Bird Research Group

Representative Publications

Cohen, E. B., Frank R. Moore, R. A. Fischer. 2014. Fuel stores, time of spring, and movement behavior influence stopover duration of Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus.  Journal of Ornithology 155: 785 – 792.

Németh, Z., and F. R. Moore. 2014. Information acquisition during migration: A social perspective. Auk: Ornithological Advances 130: 186 – 194.

Owen, J. C., M. C. Garvin, and F. R. Moore. 2014. Elevated testosterone advances onset of migratory restlessness in a nearctic-neotropical landbird. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 68: 561-569.

Ruegg, K. C., E. C. Anderson, K. L. Paxton, V. Apkenas, S. Lao, R. B. Siegel, D. F. DeSante, F. R. Moore, and T. B. Smith. 2014. Mapping migration in a songbird using high-resolution genetic markers. Molecular Ecology 23: 5726 – 5739.

Cohen, E.B., Z. Németh, T. J. Zenzal Jr., K. Paxton, R. Diehl, E.H. Paxton, and F.R. Moore. 2015. Spring resource phenology and timing of songbird migration across the Gulf of Mexico. Studies in Avian Biology. Eric Wood and Jherime Kellerman, (eds). CRC Press. Boca Rotan, FL.

Paxton, K. and F. R. Moore. 2015. Carry-over effects of winter habitat quality on en route timing and condition of a migratory passerine during spring migration. Journal of Avian Biology 46: 195 - 206.

Deppe, J. L. M. P. Ward, R. H. Diehl, A. Celis-Murillo, R. T. Bolus, T. J. Zenzal, F. R. Moore, J. A. Smolinsky, L. N. Schofield, D. A. Enstrom, E. H. Paxton, G. Bohrer, T. J. Benson, T. A. Beveroth, R. L. Obringer, D. Delaney, and W. W. Cochran. 2015. Minimizing risk and maximizing success: factors that allow migratory birds to traverse large geographic features. Proceedings National Academy of Sciences 112: E6331-E6338

Covino, K. M., S. R. Morris, and F. R. Moore. 2015. Patterns of testosterone in three Nearctic-Neotropical migratory songbirds during spring passage. General and Comparative Endocrinology 224: 186-193.

Zenzal, T. J. and F. R. Moore. 2016. Stopover biology of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) during autumn migration. Auk: Ornithological Advances 133: 237 – 259.

LeFleur, J., J. Buler, and F. R. Moore. 2016. Geographic position and landscape composition explain regional patterns of migrating landbird distributions during spring stopover along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Landscape Ecology 31: 1697 – 1709.

Johnston, R. A., K. L.  Paxton, F. R.  Moore, R.K. Wayne, and T.B. Smith. 2016. Seasonal gene expression in a migratory songbird. Molecular Ecology 25: 5680 - 5691.

Lewis, W. B., F. R. Moore, and S. Wang. 2017. Changes in the gut microbiota of migratory passerines during stopover after crossing an ecological barrier. The Auk:
Ornithological Advances 134: 137 – 145.

Covino, K. M., J. Jawor, J. F. Kelly, and F. R. Moore. 2017. Overlapping life-history stages in migrating songbirds: Variation in circulating testosterone and testosterone production capacity.  Journal of Ornithology. In Press

Moore, F. R., K. Covino, W. Lewis, T. J. Zenzal Jr., and T. J. Benson. 2017. Effect of Fuel Deposition Rate on Departure Fuel Load of Migratory Songbirds during Spring Stopover along the Northern Coast of the Gulf of Mexico.  Journal of Avian Biology. In Press.