Biological Surveys - Avian Biology


Wendy Schelsky (BS, MS, PhD)

Avian Ecologist

University of Illinois - Illinois Natural History Survey


Office Address:

1816 S Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Telephone: (217) 333-4712
INHS Staff Page



  • B.S., Biological Sciences, Colorado State University, 1995
  • M.S., Biology, UIUC, 2003
  • Ph.D., Biology, University of Florida, 2010 


  • Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences (NRES), UIUC

About Me:

I am a molecular and avian ecologist. I approach my research from both an ecological and evolutionary perspective by studying populations and communities using both molecular tools and rigorous ecological experiments. I am interested in combining both basic and applied science in my research questions. My primary focus is on life-history evolution, specifically life history traits related to predation and parasitism. I am particularly interested in the factors affecting mating systems, parental care, and dispersal behavior and how those interact to influence genetic diversity and structure within populations. I have studied questions related to life-history evolution in both temperate and tropical species.

My current research focuses on how the ecology of multiple parasites can interact to affect host fitness and survival. I am investigating how Brown-headed Cowbirds, an obligate brood parasite, can upset the typical balance between the host, the Prothonotary Warbler, and its nest ectoparasite, the blowfly. I am also studying the effects of forest fragmentation on avian communities and their Haemosporidian blood parasites. I am currently developing research to examine the role of parasites in mate choice as well as the factors affecting inbreeding in Prothonotary Warblers.