Jennifer Styrsky, PhD

Assistant Professor of Environmental Science

Jennifer Styrsky


Degrees and Certifications

  • BA, Biology with Honors, University of Chicago, 1993
  • PhD, Animal Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003


  • Assistant Professor of Environmental Science: Lynchburg College, 2014-present
  • Adjunct Professor of Biology and Environmental Science: Lynchburg College, 2011-2014
  • Post-Doctoral Fellow: Auburn University, Auburn, AL
  • Adjunct Instructor: Southern Union State Community College, Opelika, AL
  • Field biologist: U.S. Department of Defense (Panama), Illinois Natural History Survey (Illinois), Conservation Research Foundation (Idaho), Hastings Natural History Reservation (California), Brookfield Conservation Park (Australia)

Teaching Areas

  • Earth and Environmental Science I and II
  • Ecology
  • Introductory Biology

Professional Interests/Research

I am interested in a wide range of ecological questions, particularly in the areas of life-history, population dynamics, and reproduction. My previous research with tropical forest birds focused on: clutch size evolution; effects of climatic conditions on annual fecundity; nest-site selection; and parental care behaviors. I also have studied similar questions in a variety of terrestrial habitats throughout North America, Australia, and Panama.

Currently, I am investigating the effects of habitat on the abundance and distribution of Belted Kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) along the James River in Virginia. This project combines my longtime interest in bird populations with my developing interest in aquatic ecosystems. I am particularly excited by this project because it is a collaborative effort with the non-profit James River Association (JRA) and involves citizen scientist volunteers and high school students participating in a summer JRA expedition course as a critical part of the data collection process.

Finally, I encourage undergraduate students to participate in research and am very interested in the independent projects they develop for their Ecology lab. Some note-worthy projects from Spring Semester 2015 include:

  • Effect of social environment on the behaviors of domestic horses
  • Effect of temperature and rainfall on duration of frog calls
  • Effect of tree size and bark type on the distribution of poison ivy vines
  • Tree size preferences of beavers in urban and rural locations

Selected examples of my work

Styrsky, J. N. and J. D. Brawn. 2011. Annual fecundity of a Neotropical bird during years of high and low rainfall. Condor 113:194-199.

Brawn, J. D., G. Angher, N. Davros, W. D. Robinson, J. N. Styrsky, and C. E. Tarwater. 2011. Sources of variation in the nesting success of understory tropical birds. Journal of Avian Biology 42:61-68.

Styrsky, J. N., C. Guyer, H. Balbach, and A. Turkmen. 2010. The relationship between burrow abundance and area as a predictor of gopher tortoise population size. Herpetologica 66:403-410.

Styrsky, J. N., J. D. Brawn, and S. K. Robinson. 2005. Juvenile mortality increases with clutch size in a Neotropical bird. Ecology 86:3238-3244.

D. Robinson, J. N. Styrsky, and J. D. Brawn. 2005. Are artificial bird nests effective surrogates for estimating predation on real bird nests? A test with tropical birds. Auk 122:843-852.

Styrsky, J. N. 2005. Influence of predation on nest-site reuse by an open-cup nesting Neotropical passerine. Condor 107:133-137.

Professional Associations and Affiliations

  • American Ornithologists’ Union
  • Central Virginia Environmental Education Alliance
  • Cooper Ornithological Society
  • Ecological Research as Education Network
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Virginia Herpetological Society
  • Virginia Society of Ornithology