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Dr. Barbara Ballentine

Assistant Professorphoto
Behavioral Ecology and Evolution


Ph.D. Duke University
M. S. Auburn University
B. S. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Research Interests:

I am interested in elucidating the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms underlying phenotypic variation and population divergence in animals, primarily birds.  I use an integrative approach combining field and laboratory studies to investigate mechanisms that explain variation in morphology and behavior both within and between populations through processes of natural and sexual selection as well as how this type of variation can accumulate between populations resulting in population divergence.  Specifically, my research focuses on understanding  1) how female mating preferences influence the evolution of visual and acoustic signals in birds; 2) how ecological differences between populations of birds influences morphological divergence; and 3) how ecological and morphological divergence between populations of birds impacts the function of sexual signals and maintains divergence between populations.  The broader scope of my research is to increase the understanding of how ecological and evolutionary forces impact biodiversity and conservation.


Courses Taught:

BIOL  2985  Biodiversity
BIOL  2018  Introductory Biology II
Animal Behavior (George Washington University)


Selected Publications:

Ballentine, B and R. Greenberg.  In prep.  Female mating preferences in swamp sparrows may facilitate ecological speciation.
Ballentine, B. and R. Greenberg.  In Review.  Ecological adaptation in the absence of divergence in neutral genetic markers.
Ballentine, B.  2009.  The ability to perform physically challenging songs predicts age and size in male swamps sparrows (Melospiza georgiana).  Animal Behaviour
Ballentine, B., W. Searcy and S. Nowicki.  2008.  Reliable aggressive signaling in swamp sparrows.  Animal Behaviour. 75:693-703
Ballentine, B.  2006.  Natural selection influences the evolution of a signal used in mate choice.  Evolution.  60:  1936-1944
Estep, L. K., H. Mays Jr., A. J. Keyser, B. Ballentine, and G. E. Hill.  2005.  The effects of color and density on mate-guarding and extra-pair paternity in blue grosbeaks.  Journal of Canadian Zoology. 83:1143-1148
Ballentine, B., S. Nowicki and J. Hyman.  2004.  Vocal performance influences female response to male bird song: an experimental test.  Behavioral Ecology 15:163-168
Ballentine, B. and G. E. Hill. 2003. Female mate-choice in relation to structural plumage coloration in blue grosbeaks.  The Condor.  105:593-598.
Ballentine, B., A. Badyaev and G. E. Hill.  2003.  Changes in song complexity correspond to periods of female fertility in blue grosbeaks.  Ethology.  109: 55-66.