Wendy Tori, Ph.D.

Professor of biology; Martha Sykes Hansen endowed chair in biology for ornithology

Email:[email protected]

Department: Biology
Environmental Sustainability

Program: Anthrozoology applied minor
Art, Nature and Conservation applied minor

Location: Stanley Hall Room 136
801 National Road
Richmond, Indiana 47374

About me

I am a field ecologist and ornithologist with area of focus on bird ecology, behavior, genetics and evolution. My current research with undergraduates involves working in the field (Amazon and the U.S. Midwest) and in the molecular genetics lab, with Manakins, Bluebirds and Turtles. I love fieldwork and I am deeply interested in ecology, environmental science, ornithology, conservation and leading off-campus programs. I regularly engage students in conducting research in the Amazon Rainforest, Tanzania, Ecuador, Peru, Borneo, Indiana, Iowa and pretty much anywhere I go around the world.

My favorite activities include my family, bird watching, walking with my dog through the woods, dog training, traveling, cooking, running, reading, camping, playing games, playing D&D, and doing sports (volleyball, racquetball and basketball). I also volunteer with my dog, Nala, at Reid doing dog therapy work.

I teach at Earlham because I like the diversity and how the community embraces people no matter where you come from or who you are. The students are simply amazing, they are curious about everything, and want to learn as much as they can in a hands-on, experiential way while gaining a solid understanding of the sciences. I also like engaging students and the community in learning about natural history through our well-known Vicki-Penziner Matson expeditions.


  • Ph.D., University of Missouri, St. Louis (Ecology)
  • M.S., University of Missouri, St. Louis (Biology)
  • P.G.C., Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (Environmental Quality Assessment)
  • B.S., Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (Biology)

Professional memberships

Research projects

Collaborative student research experiences

Earlham students have been actively working with me since 2008. They have co-authored articles, and they have contributed to my long-term Amazon Manakin Project and most recently in my collaborative work with Dr. Jaime Coon in projects connected with Applied Grassland Ecology, habitat restoration and the effects on wildlife (mainly birds). Students have been involved in real science from planning, to troubleshooting, to wrestling with the findings, and publishing our results. I have worked with students doing research projects in the following places:

  • United States Indiana (Bluebird Project) and Nebraska (Painted Turtle project collaboration w/ Dr. John Iverson)
  • United States: Iowa (Grassland Ecology Restoration and Wildlife Biology) collaboration w/ Dr. Jaime Coon,
  • Peru (Species diversity and altitudinal gradients)
  • Ecuador (Sexual Selection theories, tracking and Manakins)
  • New Zealand (Diversity changes in intertidal zones of Kaikoura)
  • Borneo (various projects with primates, butterflies and birds)
  • Galapagos (Natural History of the Galapagos Islands)
  • Papua New Guinea (bird parasite research, collaboration with M.S. Kasun Bodawatta)

Off-campus study experiences

I have led and co-led students in a variety of off-campus programs. I taught courses in:

  • Peru (Tropical Ecology, Conservation and species diversity);
  • Galapagos (Natural History and Evolution);
  • Borneo (Tropical Ecology, Primate Conservation and People);
  • Bahamas (Iguana Research in the Exumas).
  • New Zealand (Environment and Sustainability- Semester abroad program)
  • Nebraska (Painted Turtles)
  • Tanzania (Animal Behavior and Conservation)
  • Italy (Borders, Cultures and the Globe)

Scholarly interest

I study ecology and the factors that shape reproductive behavior in birds. Undergraduate students at Earlham have joined me in the Field (Amazon Rainforest) and in the Lab to help answer questions related to ecological, behavioral, environmental, and genetic factors influencing the outcomes of mate competition, mate choice and reproductive success in wild populations. Students have engaged in using a combination of field techniques and tracking of marked individuals (field work) and molecular genetic techniques (e.g., paternity analysis using microsatellite markers, barcoding). I have used two species as model systems to answer these questions: White-crowned Manakins (Dixiphia pipra) in Eastern Amazonia-Ecuador and Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) in Indiana.

A second focus of my research is the study of lek mating systems. In lekking species adult males cluster to display for females. Typically only a few males monopolize most of the matings and others do not mate at all. This leads to the question: Why do males join leks, when their probability of reproductive success is so low? I am interested in studying the evolution of these male aggregations and I am using Manakins (Pipridae, Amazon Rainforest) as my model systems.

I am currently collaborating with Dr. Jaime Coon in the Grand River Grasslands of southern Iowa and northern Missouri working on projects that deal with applied ecology on habitat restoration for declining wildlife in particular birds species.

I have collaborated with Dr. John Iverson to study the mating systems of Painted Turtles (Nebraska) and Allen Cays Rock Iguana (Exumas islands, Bahamas). Both projects actively engage students in research during the summer, spring and fall semesters.

Published works

*indicates with students

Bodawatta, K.H., Shriner, I.*, Pigott, S.*, Koane, B., Vinagre‐Izquierdo, C., Rios, R.S., Jønsson, K.A. and Tori, W.P., (2022). Ecological factors driving the feather mite associations in tropical avian hosts. Journal of Avian Biology, p.e02951.

Wolfe-Merritt*, C. J., Hartman*, L. E., Barragan*, E. M., Hellman*, B. M., Pigott*, S., Rodríguez-Ferraro, A., & Tori, W. P. (2022). Identity and characteristics of feathers used as lining in Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) nests in Indiana and Ohio. The Wilson Journal of Ornithology.

Tori, W.P, A. Davis, K.H. Bodawatta*, K. Schmidt*, E.L. Lewis*, D.S. Neumeister*, et al. Testing the hotspot hypothesis of lek evolution in the white-crowned manakin (manuscript in preparation).

Vanderbilt C.C., E. DuVal, W.P. Tori et al. Identifying common metrics of male fitness across manakin species (manuscript in preparation).

Iverson, J.B., H. Klondaris*, C. Angel*, and W.P. Tori. (2016). Olfaction as cue for nest-site choice in turtles. Chelonian Conservation and Biology 15(2): 206-213.

Tori, W.P., K.H. Bodawatta*, K. Schmidt*, E.L. Lewis*, D.S. Neumeister*, and J. Hogle*. (2016). Evaluating white-crowned manakin (Dixiphia pipra) use of space in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Ornitologia Neotropical 27: 145–154.

Hidalgo J.R., Blake J.B., Loiselle B.A., Ryder T.B., Durães R., , and & Tori W.P. (2012). Nest site selection by Blue-crowned (Lepidothrix coronata) and Wire-tailed (Pipra filicauda) Manakins in Lowland Ecuador. Ornithologia Neotropical 23: 63-71.l

Durães R, JG Blake, BA Loiselle, TB Ryder, WP Tori, and JR Hidalgo. (2011). Vocalization activity at leks of six manakin (Pipridae) species in eastern Ecuador. Ornitología Neotropical

Ryder, B.T., W.T. Tori, J.G. Blake, B.A. Loiselle, and P.G. Parker. (2009). Mate choice for genetic quality: a test of the heterozygosity and compatibility hypothesis in a lek breeding bird. Behavioral Ecology 21: 203- 2010.

Tori, W.P., et al. (2008). Advances in sexual selection theory: insights from tropical avifauna Ornitología Neotropical, 19: 151-163

Barber, N.A., R.J. Marquis, and W.P. Tori. (2008). Invasive prey impacts distribution of native specialist predators. Ecology, 89: 2678–2683.

Loiselle, B.A., J.G. Blake, R. Durães, T.B. Ryder, and W.P. Tori. (2007). Environmental segregation in lek sites among six co-occurring species of manakins (Aves: Pipridae) in eastern Ecuador. Auk 124: 420-431.

Loiselle, B.A., T.B. Ryder, R. Durães, W.P. Tori, J.G. Blake, and P.G. Parker. (2007). Kin selection does not explain male aggregation at leks of 4 manakin species. Behavioral Ecology 18: 287-291.

*Flannagan, Karen, Kevin Schmidt, and Wendy Tori. (2012). Lance-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia lanceolata), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

*Kanaski, Alina, Clara Stuligross, Jose Pareja, and Wendy Tori. (2012). Long-tailed Manakin (Chiroxiphia linearis), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; *Susuki, Ian, Natsumi Fearnside, Wendy Tori, and Jose I. Pareja. (2012). Screaming Piha (Lipaugus vociferans), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.